The American author wanted to write an ABC rhyme book with lots of references to the Holy Land and Palestinian culture. However, her book risks being overshadowed by a ruckus about an entry called “I is for Intifada.”
“I wanted to write and publish a book that was greatly needed — a classic, playful and pedagogically sound ABC rhyme book with lots of references to the Holy Land (Christmas, Jesus Christ, Bethlehem, Nazareth), Palestinian food, dance, culture, and the geography, multiculturalism of the region.”
— Dr. Golbarg Bashi, professor of history at Pace University
Traditional children’s alphabet books have taught kids that “A is for Apple,” “B is for Boy,” and “C is for Cat.” But a new twist on the genre aims to teach kids the ABC’s of Palestinian culture.
The book, called “P is for Palestine,” was published last week and has quickly caused a stir among some Jewish parents in New York for teaching kids that “I is for Intifada.”
The author, Iranian-born Dr. Golbarg Bashi, promoted her book and a reading at a local bookstore in a post last week on a closed Facebook page for New York moms. Her post drew angry responses from women who called “P is for Palestine” anti-Semitic and anti-Israel propaganda, a charge Bashi denies.
“The charge of anti-Semitism is a very severe one and it is not something I take lightly,” she told Haaretz. “This is a book written from a place of love not a place of hatred. It is a book celebrating Palestinians and empowering their children without an iota of animus towards any other people — Israelis included.”
Comments posted in the Facebook group are off the record, but they have become so heated that its moderators are considering shuttering the page. Pro-Israeli parents were particularly incensed by the “I is for Intifada” page in the book, with one woman suggesting that if Bashi wanted to promote diversity, “I” could have been for “Israel.”
Bashi said she hopes for peace in the region, but added, “Intifada is an aspect of Palestinian life just as Bethlehem is the birthplace of Jesus Christ. Wearing a Palestinian thob (dress), cooking a Palestinian dish, celebrating a Palestinian holiday, protecting an olive tree from being bulldozed . . . is a form of ‘Intifada.’
“It is only in the mind of those determined to demonize Palestinians that this term is associated with violence — I am against any and all kind of violence, against any human being,” she said.