(JTA) – The public library in Highland Park, N.J. cancelled a June 5 public hearing about the children’s book P is for Palestine, citing safety and crowd control, but said it would reschedule a reading of the book by its author. An author event scheduled for mid-May had previously been postponed by the library after Jewish critics of the book said it promoted violence and that its author shouldn’t be given a platform at the public library. The library announced that it would reschedule the talk and reading by P is for Palestine author Golbarg Bashi, and schedule a similar program around the book I is for Israel, by Gili Bar-Hillel and Prodeepta Das.
In 2017, the alphabet book by Bashi, an Iranian-born instructor of Middle Eastern history at nearby Rutgers University, sparked controversy when it was offered for sale at a popular bookstore on New York’s Upper West Side. A nearby Reform synagogue objected especially to a two-page spread featuring the letter I, which states “I is for Intifada, Intifada is Arabic for rising up for what is right, if you are a kid or a grownup!” Critics said the page glorified the violent resistance that characterized the two separate Palestinian “uprisings” of the late 1980s and early 2000s.