Book Cultureâ€™s statement distancing itself from politics and books related to justice in Palestine because of pressure from the rabbis at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue (SWFS), which bills itself as “a beacon of progressive Jewish thought”, is an appalling development for a bookstore whose mission is â€œto represent as widely as we can the diverse output of the publishing industry â€” the unique, the scholarly, the under-represented, the under-readâ€.
The shameful statement issued by Book Culture as published in West Side Rag first apologizes for causing â€œcommunal painâ€, presumably to the synagogue community represented by the SWFS congregation, by selling the childrenâ€™s book â€˜P is for Palestine: A Palestine Alphabet Bookâ€™ by NYC-based Swedish-American author Dr. Golbarg Bashi and for missing the bookâ€™s â€œramificationsâ€ â€“ meaning that the Palestinian armed resistance to the injustice of the Jewish state referenced in the book amounts to terrorist violence â€œperpetrated against Israeli civilians during the intifada or thereafterâ€.
Having accepted the premise that Palestinians are victimizing Jews through terrorist activity and not that the Jewish state is dispossessing Palestinians, that Israel has â€œa right to existâ€ and Palestinians have no rights, Book Culture moves on â€œlogicallyâ€ to the conclusion that the store therefore cannot endorse any Palestinian resistance to oppression, even that represented by an ethical, principled, non-violent movement as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS).
Considering the above, Book Culture might as well change its mission by adding, â€œWe practice The Palestine Exception to Free Speechâ€.
The US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) wishes to point out that Book Culture, like many other U.S. organizations ostensibly interested in human rights, has failed to condemn the state of Israelâ€™s killing of innocent Palestinian childrenâ€”500 as in the 2013 War on Gaza; its widespread incarceration of Palestinian young people; and its forced underdevelopment of the Palestinian population via military encirclement, economic control, and political apartheid. It is these conditionsâ€”and Palestinian resistance to themâ€”that inflict pain on the Palestinian community worldwide and deserve both public platform and public sympathy.