Success! NJ Library Reinstates Palestine Children's Book Event

Copyright: Golbarg Bashi (Author)

Copyright: Golbarg Bashi (Author)

The Highland Park Public Library announced late Tuesday that it would allow a book event organized by Jewish Voice for Peace-Central New Jersey (JVP) to go forward after the Library cancelled the event because of racist, Islamophobic complaints.

Palestine Legal, the Center for Constitutional Rights and ACLU-NJ wrote the library board of trustees on May 29, warning that the cancellation violated the First Amendment and Article I, Paragraph 6 of the New Jersey Constitution, by which public libraries in New Jersey are bound.

The letter demanded that the event, P is for Palestine: Story Reading and Author Signing, be allowed to proceed and that the library apologize to JVP.

The library announced late Tuesday that the event would go forward and that a board of trustees meeting discussing the event, originally scheduled for today, was being cancelled due to concerns of violence. Former New York City assemblymember Dov Hikind, a staunch Israel advocate with ties to right-wing extremist Meir Kahane, along with the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), had urged their supporters to attend the meeting and demand that the library censor the event.

Hikind and the ZOA falsely claimed that P is for Palestine — an ABC picture book for toddlers — called for violence and terrorism. A lawyer for the library wrote Palestine Legal and co-counsel on Friday, explaining that the event had been cancelled because the Library received complaints that the book “promotes violence against innocent people and a holy jihad against Jews.”

"While we’re glad the library ultimately recognized that these complaints were false — and frankly downright racist — the event should never have been cancelled in the first place,” said Palestine Legal senior staff attorney Radhika Sainath. “Children have the right to hear about Palestinian culture without government censorship."

While the ZOA and some media outlets presented the event as harming Jewish people, the fact remains that the event was organized by Jewish Voice for Peace a national, grassroots organization inspired by Jewish tradition to work for a just and lasting peace according to principles of human rights, equality, and international law for all the people of Israel and Palestine.

Groups like the ZOA frequently try to silence support for Palestinian rights by falsely portraying it as an attack on Jewish identity.

“Palestinian stories deserve to be told and I am so glad the Highland Park Library has agreed to change their position and allow a reading of the children’s book P is for Palestine to proceed,” said JVP-Central NJ member Marion Munk. "As a proud Jewish member of this community, I’m thrilled that my local library won’t be censoring stories about Palestine.”