Anti-Israeli propaganda on American campuses has been supported by a variety of radical groups under the pretext of decolonization, anti-racism, anti-Apartheid, and BDS. This push to convert American opinion has now been extended towards pre-K children.
November is a crucial month in Middle Eastern history and politics. Between the anniversary of the 1917 Balfour Declaration on November 2, and that of November 29 -- when the nascent United Nations voted in 1947 to establish the Jewish and Arab states -- another "event" took place on November 18, 2017, that literarily erased the Jews from Palestine.
On this date, a new book for toddlers, P is for Palestine: A Palestine Alphabet Book, was presented and read by its author, Ms. Golbarg Bashi. This reading took place in the basement of the Book Culture store on Columbus Avenue on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, located between the Temple Rodeph Sholom and the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue.
Ms. Bashi's book fails to include a single mention of Jews, Israel, or Jerusalem, though it depicted all manner of facets of Palestinian life. The ultimate goal of this book is to present Israelis as strangers to the land of Palestine, who should be cast out of its landscape.
What authority does Ms. Bashi have to negate the richly documented history of Jews in the land of Palestine, and to promote such falsehoods to American children? Is she a Palestinian commissar of propaganda, of education? No, not at all.
Before we dive into the author's biography, however, let us run through selected key examples from this short book that subvert the truth. The author's oral annotation of her book reading, which I have on video, is of value, since it presents her method of reaching her subjects' hearts. Her oral explanations from the reading are added in parentheses:
'B' stands for Bethlehem, where Jesus was born.
'C' stands for Christmas, because Palestine is Jesus Christ's country ...
'F stands for Falafel (yummy, yummy in your tummy).
'G' stands for Gaza (like Mombassa; full of generous casas!) ...
'I' stands for Intifada. (Arabic for rising up for what is right, whether you are a kid or grown up!)
'J' stands for Jesus (who was born in my hometown of Bethlehem).
'K' stands for Kuffiye.
'L' stands for Lavne yogurt ...
'N' stands for Nazareth (a very noisy town with ringing bells on Sunday).
'O' stands for the orange orchards of our land.
'P' is for Palestine (for me and my people).
'Q' is for Quds (where the Dome of the Rock exists and where we go daily for our blessings).
'R' is for Ramallah (where the rainbows come after the rain).
'S' is for Sukh which means 'market.'...
'W' is for Wallahi, 'I swear by God.'...
The book, drawings and explanations are targeted to affect the emotions of pre-K children and to plant into their fertile minds false political and historical values and concepts. From this book kids will learn about the city of Quds, without knowing that its original name was "Yir-Shel-Shalom," i.e., "Yerushalayim." "S" will not mean King Solomon, who originally built that great city, and so on. This book presents an unnecessary dose of enmity toward Jews and Israelis, and for doing so, has been lauded by various Palestinian activists.
So who is Ms. Golbarg Bashi and what made her decide to write, illustrate, and publish this propagandistic booklet?
According to information provided on Amazon, Ms. Bashi was born in 1982 in Isfahan, Iran. The book's press release identifies her as an Iranian professor of Middle Eastern history in New York. She was raised in Iran and Sweden, and educated in the UK and U.S., where she was widely exposed to the strong tradition of progressive children's literature.
Is this intentionally false presentation of Palestinian history a new formula for peace and a peaceful coexistence that Israelis should take at face value, or is it another lofty maneuver?
My thoughts have drifted to the plethora of books, analyses, and statements by prominent Arab scholars about that narrow slice of land on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean. In particular I considered the following points:
- All people born in British Mandatory Palestine between 1923-1948 (today's Israel) had "Palestine" stamped on their passports at the time. But when they were called Palestinians, the Arabs were offended. They complained: "We are not Palestinians, we are Arabs. The Palestinians are the Jews."
- The prominent scholar Bernard Lewis stated that during the resurrection of pan-Arabism, subjects of the British mandate identified themselves not as Southern Syrians but as Arabs.
- Neither Jerusalem nor Al Quds in Arabic is mentioned even once in the Koran.
- Lebanese-American historian and Middle East professor at Harvard and Princeton Philip Khuri Hitti (1886-1978) testified before a British-American committee in 1946 that "History did not register the history of Palestine prior to 1948."
- A search on Google Ngram -- the most authoritative ledger of our times, which maintains analyses of books from 1500 through 2008 -- provides appearances of references to books regarding the Palestinian people and the Palestinian state only since 1960. Ngram also notes that this fact was publicly stated in 1977 by no other than Zuheir Mohsen, one of the leaders of PLO: "The Palestinian people does not exist. ... The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel. ... It is only for political and tactical reasons that we speak today about ... the existence of a distinct 'Palestinian people' to oppose Zionism."
- I also recalled a meeting that I had in the late 1980s with the head of Romanian counter-intelligence, Ion Mihai Pacepa. He defected to the U.S. and published Red Horizons, the most revealing account of how the Soviets created and supported the PLO and its terrorist pawns. Pacepa knew these secrets intimately, since he trained and provided material and financial support to PLO under the direct instruction of Yuri Andropov, head of the KGB.
Additional developments concerning this book took place not at the UN, but on Columbus Avenue. Rabbi Hirsch of the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue sent a letter to the four owners of Book Culture requesting that they rescind their support of this book for its glorification of the Palestinian Intifada. The rabbi's letter stated the following three reasons for his position:
- He objected to the statement, "'I' which stands for Intifada."
- The store supported the publication of this book by contributing $650.
- The Free Synagogue was scheduled to host a book fair featuring this book on December 7, 8, and 10.
Rabbi Hirsch asked Book Culture for a clarification regarding their sponsorship of this book. He notified them that if they continued to endorse the book, the store would not be able to participate in the forthcoming book fair. The deadline for the response was November 27.
No reply was received, and hence the book will not be exhibited.