Samantha Rose Mandeles
A recent controversy in New Jersey has the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) quickly changing its tune on “free speech.”
Yesterday, the organization’s New Jersey chapter issued a press release complaining that the Highland Park Public Library canceled a planned event with the Golbarg Bashi, the author of children’s book P is for Palestine: A Palestine ABC Book.
In the weeks preceding the cancellation, local Jewish community members objected to the violence they said the book promotes. They noted the page for the letter ‘I’, which teaches children the term ‘Intifada’.
In its press release, CAIR called the event cancellation “censorship” and claimed that the word ‘Intifada’ doesn’t promote violence and terror, but rather means “‘rebellion’ or ‘resistance’ in Arabic.” CAIR is also circulating a petition to “Stand up for free-speech, demand reinstatement” of the event.
Not only does CAIR mislead readers about the origin of the term ‘intifada’ (it derives from a verb meaning “to shake off” and is sometimes used to refer to an uprising or rebellion), but CAIR also ignores the fact that in the Israeli-Palestinian context, the term only refers to several protracted periods of Arab violence against Jews in Israel—which have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Arab Muslims as well as the murder of Jewish civilians in dozens of suicide bombings.
The petition is co-sponsored by a number of organizations that have excused terrorism against Israelis in other contexts. They include Samidoun: the “Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network”, which maintains multiple ties to the U.S. Department of State-designated terrorist group, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; the New York branch of Al-Awda: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, which was founded by proud Hezbollah supporter, Abbas Hamideh, and is a member of an umbrella organization that reportedly supports Hamas; and the New Jersey branch of American Muslims for Palestine, which is the “successor and alter-ego” of now-defunct Hamas front group, Islamic Association for Palestine.
On May 18th, Golbarg Bashi complained about the cancellation and the fact that the library removed the book from its shelves. Her Facebook post included a video interview in which she claimed, “This is not about me. This is about my book, this is about the first amendment.”
We find all this a bit ironic, considering that only last November, CAIR’s Dallas-Fort Worth chapter campaigned to have a different book—Holy Terror, a story of comic superheroes battling Al Qaeda in New York City—removed from the Plano, TX library on the basis of its supposed “Islamophobia.” On that occasion, CAIR seemed to feel that “imposing hate literature on a captive audience of children is not appropriate” and questioned the Plano library about the “standards, policies or code of ethics that the publicly funded library followed when faced with publications that dehumanize or marginalize minorities.”