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Controversy Erupts Around Children’s Book, ‘P is for Palestine’

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A new children’s book is causing quite the stir. It’s called “P is for Palestine,” and it’s was featured over the weekend at a New York City reading event.

According to The New York Post, the author, a Swedish-Iranian professor of history at Pace University, Golbarg Bashi, said that she “came up with the idea for this book after I couldn’t find a book about Palestine for children.’’ She went on to say that she loves “ABC books personally, and I have so many of them at home about all kinds of places — Mexico, United States, Italy, everywhere.”

On the surface, the book, illustrated by Golrokh Nafisi, seems simple: It’s an alphabet book featuring illustrations of Palestinian families and using each letter to showcase something about Palestinian culture: “A is for Arabic, my tongue, a language that’s the 4th biggest ever sung!”

But some entries are more contentious than others. Case in point:  “I is for Intifada, Arabic for rising up for what is right, if you are a kid or grownup!”

Intifada is also the word for the two bloody Palestinian uprisings against Israel, in the 1980s and in the early 2000s.

Writer and entrepreneur Bryce Gruber-Hermon is a member of UES Mommas, a Facebook group where controversy recently erupted over the book’s promotion. Gruber-Hermon told Kveller:

More than half my family either lives in Israel currently or has at some point, and several of my closest friends are still there. The word “intifada” is on par with a curse word to me, because it equals destruction, violence, and death. Maybe some people who are less familiar with Middle Eastern history will tell you the word has peaceful roots, but the modern iteration of the world has grown to mean something very dark, grim, and terrible for humans on every side of the equation.

The book appears to have been launched via a crowdfunding effort and to have been self-published. (It is sold via the author’s Etsy account)  It has garnered its fair share of praise, including from the controversial, anti-Zionist women’s rights activist Linda Sarsour, who said, “P is for Palestine is a colorful manifestation of all that is beautiful about the land of my parents and ancestors.”

The author, who didn’t immediately respond to comment, told The Post that she is currently looking for funding to create a kids’ Hebrew language alphabet block set, similar to the one she created in the Persian alphabet.

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