Book Culture’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 “to represent as widely as we can the diverse output of the publishing industry — the unique, the scholarly, the under-represented, the under-read”.
The shameful statement issued by Book Culture as published in West Side Rag first apologizes for causing “communal pain”, presumably to the synagogue community represented by the SWFS congregation, by selling the children’s book ‘P is for Palestine: A Palestine Alphabet Book’ by NYC-based Swedish-American author Dr. Golbarg Bashi and for missing the book’s “ramifications” – meaning that the Palestinian armed resistance to the injustice of the Jewish state referenced in the book amounts to terrorist violence “perpetrated against Israeli civilians during the intifada or thereafter”.
Having accepted the premise that Palestinians are victimizing Jews through terrorist activity and not that the Jewish state is dispossessing Palestinians, that Israel has “a right to exist” and Palestinians have no rights, Book Culture moves on “logically” 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, “We practice The Palestine Exception to Free Speech”.
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 Israel’s killing of innocent Palestinian children—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 conditions—and Palestinian resistance to them—that inflict pain on the Palestinian community worldwide and deserve both public platform and public sympathy.