Middle East studies in the News
Kids' Book Called 'P Is for Palestine' is Stirring Up Outrage Among Moms [on Golbarg Bashi]
by Sara Dorn and Stephanie Pagones
A children's book titled "P Is for Palestine" is infuriating some New York Jewish mothers — who charge that it's nothing but anti-Semitic propaganda disguised as a kids' alphabet book.
"Omg. Crazy. I'm livid at this," one woman wrote on Facebook. "I can't believe it's real and in NYC!"
Another post reads, "You have gall advertising your incredibly politically insensitive book on this site.
"You must have known you would be igniting a political firestorm by posting that in the hopes of drumming up sales for your ridiculous book . . . It's disgraceful."
And still another Facebook user wrote, "A children's book on Palestine that doesn't recognized the state of Israel . . . is very sad."
But the author, Golbarg Bashi, a Pace history professor and former Rutgers Iranian-studies instructor, told an audience at a bookstore reading Saturday that she "came up with the idea for this book after I couldn't find a book about Palestine for children."
She told The Post after her reading at Book Culture on the Upper West Side, "I love ABC books personally, and I have so many of them at home about all kinds of places — Mexico, United States, Italy, everywhere."
She added that she's trying to get funding for a kids' Hebrew language alphabet block set. She's already produced a block set in Persian, a language spoken in Iran.
"I'm an American, too," she said.
"I grew up in Sweden. I am not a representative of the Iranian government."
Iran has been siding with the Palestinians in their feud with Israel for decades.
At least one Jewish parent who attended the reading was supportive of Bashi.
Rafael Shimunov, of the group "Jews for Racial and Economic Justice," brought his 7-year-old daughter.
He said he did not find the book anti-Semitic.
"We wanted to be present and make sure that we can be mindful of what anti-Semitism truly is."
He said it has nothing to do with being Palestinian.
Still, Bashi's detractors point out that she has written pro-Palestinian blog posts.
At least one takes direct aim at Israel.
"By all measured historical accounts . . . Israel is a racial and religious apartheid state," Bashi wrote.
Her book, which features colorful illustrations of Palestinian families, associates each letter of the English alphabet with Palestinian culture: "A is for Arabic, my tongue, a language that's the 4th biggest ever sung!"
But some of the phrases and illustrations are clearly anti-Israel.
"I is for Intifada, Arabic for rising up for what is right, if you are a kid or grownup!" It shows a child on her father's back standing before barbed wire and flashing peace signs.
Intifada refers to the two Palestinian uprisings against Israel, in the '80s and early 2000s.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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