Middle East studies in the News
'Christmas is a Palestinian Festival': Ex-Professor Under Fire for New Children's Book [on Golbarg Bashi]
by Chris Agee
A Palestinian children's author and former professor is facing criticism for the contents of her recent book, "P is for Palestine."
Several pages of the alphabet book have raised red flags with critics, including assertions about Christmas and an allegedly sanitized definition of the anti-Israel uprisings known as intifada.
Golbarg Bashi, however, remains defiant, explaining to Fox News that her book is not anti-Semitic.
She described the book as a "fun diverse children's rhyme book" that offers a "social justice story" regarding Palestine's history.
A former history professor at Pace University, Bashi has been a vocal supporter of the so-called BDS movement, which advocates for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel. In her book, she sparked backlash for what many saw as an idealized definition for a more direct and violent Palestinian reaction to the enemy nation.
On a page declaring "I is for intifada," Bashi called the movement a "peaceful resistance."
Intifada refers to two separate and often violent Palestinian uprisings over the past four decades. As the Washington Post reported, the first intifada led to the formation of Hamas, a Sunni-Islamic fundamentalist political group described by many critics as a terrorist organization.
Bashi, however, offered a broader definition in defending the view represented in her book.
She claimed that intifada referred to the daily perseverance of a group facing Israeli occupation.
Qualifying activities, she said, include "carrying a Palestinian flag, wearing a Palestinian dress, cooking a Palestinian dish, and protecting a Palestinian olive tree from being bulldozed."
Her book was also denounced by some who disagreed with her references to the life of Jesus Christ.
She responded to criticism of pages like "C is for Christmas" and "J is for Jesus" by suggesting the truth about these topics is one not often included in Western academics.
"Americans' news media as well as American school books have never allowed this universal information to be passed on," she said.
Bashi further explained that she believe is it "very important for American, Mexican, Canadian, Central and South American, British, Swedish and children from any region and nation whose most important holiday is Christmas to know that Christmas is a Palestinian festival, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, an Abrahamic Prophet who was born in Bethlehem, a Palestinian City."
As for Christians who find her perspective offensive, she encouraged them to "attend a Palestinian church in either Bethlehem or Nazareth, and pray with their fellow Christian Palestinian sisters and brothers."
Haaretz cited several social media posts attacking the author for the book's message. She responded by insisting that her intention was to unite, not divide, by addressing a topic she does not believe is fully understood.
"This is a book written from a place of love not a place of hatred," she said. "It is a book celebrating Palestinians and empowering their children without an iota of animus towards any other people — Israelis included."
A New York bookstore that helped fund "P is for Palestine" and hosted an in-store reading has since apologized after receiving complaints from a number of concerned, primarily Jewish, locals.
In the end, Bashi said she believes her critics are upset largely because she included the term "Palestine" in the book's title.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.
Campus Watch contact e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org