Local Rabbi Clashes With Book Culture Over Children’s Book

By Lisa Kava

A local rabbi and a local bookstore have clashed over a children’s alphabet book called “ P is for Palestine.” Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch of Stephen Wise Free Synagogue (SWFS) on West 68th Street sent an email last week to the co-owners of Book Culture on Columbus Avenue, who partially funded the book and hosted a reading for the author, Dr. Golbarg Bashi, on November 18th.

In the letter Rabbi Hirsch asked Book Culture’s owners to publicly rescind their support of this book. He said that if Book Culture continues to support the book they will not be allowed to participate in an upcoming book fair at the synagogue’s preschool scheduled for early December.

“P is for Palestine” is an ABC book for young children written in English that aims to teach young children about some of the basic ideas and traditions in Palestinian culture. The book includes pages such as “A is for Arabic my native tongue, a language that’s the fourth biggest ever sung” and “E is for Eid it means festival …when we eat enticing eats.”

The page in the book that Rabbi Hirsch strongly objects to reads “I is for Intifada. Intifada is Arabic for rising up for what is right, if you are a kid or a grown up!”  The Rabbi said “The Intifada is about murder, killing of innocent Israelis not all Jewish, that makes it impossible to host Book Culture if they continue to sponsor this book. There are other more subtle issues with the book but the specific most egregious issue is the page about the intifada. This is a specific reference that promotes murder. We can’t take a book that is geared towards young children that has certain elements in it including the most offensive part of promoting the intifada, we simply can’t host either the author or the bookstore that has subsidized and supported the author in our synagogue during a Jewish book fair.”

SWFS announced the details in a post on their Facebook  page and on the synagogue’s website.

Book Culture’s owners responded to the Rabbi’s email and they are planning to meet with him this week in person to discuss. The date and time for this meeting has not yet been set.

Rabbi Hirsch told West Side Rag in an interview, “We (SWFS and Book Culture) are both part of the same community on the Upper West Side. We are supportive of the concept of Book Culture. We both occupy a progressive social sphere. I am actually pained that we don’t see eye to eye on this issue and I am eager to hear from them as to what is motivating them and for them to hear from us as to why we have taken such great offense.” When asked if he would be open to speaking to the author as well, the Rabbi responded “I would be happy to meet the author. I believe in dialogue I believe in reason and hearing people out I believe in tolerance. But the immediate issue is not about the author, it is between us and Book Culture.”

Rabbi Hirsch was not the first to be offended by “P is for Palestine.”  A post by the author in a Facebook group of Manhattan moms caused such acrimony that the group was shut down. The author of the book was a member of the Facebook group UES Mommas and she posted in that group  to promote her book along with her Nov 18th reading at Book Culture. Her post sparked such heated arguments and verbal attacks among members that the administrators of the group deactivated the page last week. The group was since reactivated with new rules for posting (no politics allowed) and additional admins.

Chris Doeblin, one of Book Culture’s co-owners, spoke with us about his reaction to the rabbi’s letter. “Our view is taken from the context of bookselling and ideas in general. Our openness to a broad range of ideas, even those we do not agree with is essential. Censorship of books is a very grave thing to propose. As owners of the store we may each have differences in our point of view on ‘P is for Palestine’, but we are obligated to the First Amendment.”

“In spite of my own belief in the First Amendment, there are books we would not carry because they are so offensive to us. While there are strong sets of arguments on both sides of this particular book, the book is quite a long way from the borderline of becoming inadmissible,” he added.

Since the Rabbi’s objection went beyond Book Culture selling the book and focused on the fact that the store helped fund the book and hosted a reading for the author, we asked Doeblin his thoughts on that. He explained that the author of the book is married to a man he has known for 30 years and that the author and her husband together have been friends, neighbors and supporters of the store. “When his wife asked me to buy 100 copies of the book to help get it off the ground and to have a reading at the store I did not feel that I needed to vet the book. This was about community-based support of children’s books.”

Doeblin told West Side Rag that he believes it is essential to have books that portray the various ethnicities, genders and points of view in our community and that the store is open to promoting a broad range of opinions. He noted that difficult conversations are happening all over the country and said “there is a lot of shutting people out of conversation. The solution cannot be to shut down the other side left or right. Words matter. Words have the power to change people’s minds. We need to be able to listen to different viewpoints.”

Doeblin says the store tries to represent many different viewpoints in its readings and selections. Tammar Stein, the author of a book called  “The Six Day Hero”  which is published by an Israeli publisher, will be reading from her book at Book Culture Columbus Avenue on December 10th. “The Six Day Hero” is a book geared towards middle grade readers about an Israeli family’s experience during the Six Day War. The story is told from the point of view of a 12 year old Israeli boy in the family.

We asked Doeblin how he felt about the page in the book “P is for Palestine” that references the intifada. “People have written to me that the use of the word intifada is offensive enough to be censored,” he said. “I am not in a position to make a claim as to if that is valid or invalid. I do not want to be involved in a discussion about the word intifada. I can have a discussion about censorship and the First Amendment.”

Dr. Golbarg Bashi, the book’s author, is an Upper West Side mom. She told us that her book is about empowering children of Palestinian background to feel good about who they are. She said that it is the first children’s alphabet book about Palestine written in English. She said it is not an anti Israel book and that she is not anti Israel. She also told us that she has had positive reactions to her book. “I have received letters from all over the world thanking me for writing ( the book.)”

When asked how she felt about Rabbi Hirsch’s letter to Book Culture  she said “I am dismayed that a religious institution would interfere with the freedom of expression of writers and publishers in this country.”

“People should not threaten the livelihood of progressive independent bookstores. This is saying ‘Burn the book.’ I am shocked. Since the Rabbi’s email I have received a volume of hate mail and death threats.”

When we brought her attention to the controversial page referencing the intifada, the author responded   “I think it is very important to keep in mind that when you have an occupied people they will have resistance. The resistance has multi-faceted representations, most of which are creative, artistic and peaceful. Intifada in the Palestinian context also has the manifestations of peace. The illustration on the page is of a father and a child holding a peace sign. I am against violence towards any human being.  In my book the intifada stands for the peaceful and the artistic resistance to occupation.”

Rabbi Hirsch said that he is looking forward to meeting with the owners of Book Culture to discuss the issues. “I am eager to meet with them,” he said. “I’ll learn more from them as to what they are thinking and I want them to hear from us as to why segments of the New York population have responded this way.” Rabbi Hirsch is hopeful that he and Book Culture’ s owners will have a productive conversation. But he remains firm in his stance. “There are parts of this book that are particularly offensive and not the right message to send to anyone, let alone young children. We simply can’t host either the author or the book store that has subsidized and supported the author in our synagogue during a Jewish book fair organized by our preschool. So for those reasons we are extending our hand to meet with them.”

We asked the author if she would be willing to talk to the Rabbi and she said “I would love to. I would be happy to be a part of the conversation between Book Culture and the synagogue.”

NEWS | 80 comments | permalink
    1. Sherman says:

      Maybe this book should have a passage labeled “I is for Israel where Palestinian citizens enjoy more freedoms and a better standard of living than Arabs anywhere else in the Middle East”.

      • UWS_lifer says:

        You I like.:)

      • Kristi says:

        “Intifada” was an Arabic word literally before the state of Israel existed.

        This book separates that word from its politicization to show children the values at its heart. Muslim, Jewish, Christian, atheist – we should all welcome that kind of dialogue. Don’t bow down to demagogues, Book Culture.

        • Francis says:

          Merriam-Webster defines intifada as “armed uprising of Palestinians against Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”

          You can pretend intifada means something else, but we are not fooled.

          Teaching Palestinian children to become suicide bombers???

      • Marcy says:

        Or maybe a passage labeled “L” for LGBTQ for the only country in the Middle East which does not hideously discriminate against those groups. Or “G” for Gay Pride Week in Tel Aviv, which the largest (in some cases, the only) Gay parade in the Middle East or Asia. Or “K” for Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, which has Muslim members.

    2. AndrewE says:

      Everyone loves free speech until someone says something they don’t like. I think the rabbi is wrong here.

    3. Noma says:

      I’ll try not to politicize this too much, but I find it concerning that a community leader would target a children’s book in this way.

      In any event, at least I know what to get for stocking stuffers this year.

      • Peace says:

        Do you even know what an intifada is?
        If the answer is yes, then you might find more stocking stuffers to your liking on the ISIS website.

        • Bruce Bernstein says:

          ISIS has nothing to do with the Palestinian Intifadas and i doubt even supported them.

          Maybe “PEACE” could benefit by reading this book, or maybe an adult book on the politics and history of the Middle East.

          • Peace says:

            The most recent intifata was a terrible terrorist movement with suicide bombers, including children who were trained to become suicide bombers.

            Get the connection?

            “I is for intifada”, accompanied by a child displaying a “V for victory” sign (in the Arab world, the two finger sign is not a peace sign, but a victory sign) is very disturbing, given this history.

      • JerryV says:

        Norma, Perhaps you have not read the Rabbi’s comments. He was neither “targeting” nor censoring the book as you claim. He was merely saying that he did not want it to be part of a Jewish preschool book fair at his synagogue. Please read the Rabbi’s comments from the main part of this article. “We simply can’t host either the author or the book store that has subsidized and supported the author in our synagogue during a Jewish book fair organized by our preschool.” Do you not believe that a Black Church has the right to exclude what it believes are racist books from a children’s book fair at its church? What does this have to do with blocking free speech?

    4. UWS_lifer says:

      How dare this woman?!? On the UWS no less!!!

      I is for Intifada? Let me guess…is O for Occupation?

      How about we leave the global politics and religion until the kids are at least 7 or 8, OK? Not to mention, we have enough to deal with these days in the our own homeland due to a crisis of confidence with our “leadership”.

      Now, having said all of that (just my opinion)….sell the book and don’t boycott the store. This is America and NYC. Come on, we are better than that. Remember, “when they go low, we go high”. L’Chaim.

    5. Scott says:

      It’s always funny when progressives turn on each other.

      ::gets the popcorn::

    6. Scott says:

      Makes West Side Kids look apolitical.

    7. Phil Ossifer says:

      PERHAPS Rabbi Hirsch should recall this famed confirmation of the right to think and speak as one wishes:

      “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

      The quote is widely attributed to “Voltaire”, who did not actually exist, as explained by Quote Investigator <https://quoteinvestigator.com/2015/06/01/defend-say/:

      "Voltaire was the pen name of François-Marie Arouet who died in 1778. The earliest evidence of the saying appeared many years afterwards in the 1906 book “The Friends of Voltaire” by S. G. Tallentyre which was the pseudonym of historian Evelyn Beatrice Hall."

      Got that? Doesn't matter, as long as we all agree that, even in this era of fierce partisanship, freedom of speech/opinion is still a basic concept of our democracy…no matter how vile the words (short of, as SCOTUS ruled in 1919, intentionally doing harm by FALSELY yelling 'FIRE' in a crowded theater.)

      Should the theater really be on fire, feel free to yell FIRE.

    8. michael says:

      This is absolutely disgusting. As someone who lived in Israel, I believe it’s ok to criticize the Israeli Government. However, it’s another thing entirely to encourage violence against Israeli’s or anyone else for that matter. Book Culture being complicit in the call for violence against innocent people no longer has my business.

    9. Walk on By says:

      It is apparent that the bookseller has a very selective interpretation of ‘censorship’ and an idiosyncratic notion of the First Amendment.

      He is not the government, with the power to censor and prevent publication or dissemination; he is a bookseller, and the marketplace will decide.

      I would think that an independent bookstore would face enough challenges without giving platform to extremist viewpoints, including murder for a religio-political cause.

      Sometimes, you win neither battles nor wars.

      • Ken says:

        Exactly, “the marketplace will decide.” But it can only decide if the book is there for sale.

        • JerryV says:

          Ken, But the book will still be there for sale – only not for preschoolers within the synagogue.

        • Walk On By says:

          No, the bookseller’s willingness to disseminate this type of violence-encouraging propaganda will ALSO factor into the market place .

          I am disinclined to give my custom or my patronage to such a bookseller.

    10. Pigeon says:

      The Book Culture co-owner defends his support of the book by saying “we are obligated to the First Amendment.” He is mistaken.

      This is not a First Amendment issue.

      The First Amendment concerns the government. Specifically it prohibits the government from limiting speech. The First Amendment does not tell a bookstore to stock all books, and it certainly doesn’t tell a bookstore to provide support to all books.

    11. Peace says:

      The author of the children’s book says “In my book the intifada stands for the peaceful and the artistic resistance to occupation.”

      She might think so, but what about the children who will read the book? What about all the blood spilled by those who were swayed by the two intifadas of the past thirty years?

      If there is a third intifada, let’s hope it is an intifada of music and dance. Fat chance.

    12. SWFS neighbor says:

      This is certainly a disappointing situation.

      Rather than privately informing Book Culture that it would need to withdraw it’s invitation to the synagogue’s book fair, Rabbi Hirsh has elected to engage in a much more public battle over a picture book that he and his congregants have taken offense to.

      Must a neighborhood battle ensue?

      The synagogue is well within its right to withdraw support from any vendor it wishes to, and the vendor is free to move forward.

      If Rabbi Hirsh really wants to engage the Upper West Side community in the Israel/Palestine tragedy, there are better options available. Framing the debate on the basis of a children’s picture book only serves to inflame emotions and cheapen a critically important matter.

      • Steen says:

        How refreshing to read a reasonable assessment of this situation on WSR.

        Thank you.This summed up my feelings on this matter.

    13. Michael G says:

      It looks like “intifada” in the context of the book is not so much hateful as it is reckless, given that it mixes a historical reference to *the* violent intifadas with a visual message that promotes peaceful resistance (*an* intifada in general).

      And since this kid’s book is clearly not part of some extremist tendency in the store’s bookselling practices, it seems equally reckless to escalate reasonable objections about one ill-advised bit of content into public ultimatums against the store. Just ask them not to sell the book at the fair.

      In any case, I hope something productive comes out of this.

    14. Brenda says:

      You lost me at “I is for Intifada”


      A children’s book??

    15. Robert says:

      Lets have a reality check:

      Intifada – Wikipedia

      In the Israeli–Palestine conflict: First Intifada, a Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation lasting from December 1987 to 1993. Second Intifada, a period of intensified Israeli-Palestinian violence, which began in late September 2000 and ended around 2005

      Keep telling lies, someone will start beliving

    16. Rob B. says:

      Book Culture’s owner’s references to the First Amendment are misplaced. The Amendment, which prevents Congress from enacting a law limiting free speech, does not require private businesses to disseminate any material, let alone a children’s book that may sanction violence. Book Culture should make an informed decision about the material it carries, and stand by that decision. It should not deflect the issue by citing, incorrectly, to the First Amendment.

    17. Carl N Steeg MD says:

      Rabbi Hirsch is in no way “threatening the livlihood” of the author or bookstore owners, as stated above. He is canceling the participation in a Jewish book fair at a synagogue by a bookstore which is supporting a book that he strongly feels contains anti-Israel issues.

      Hardly unreasonable.

      He has not called for a book ban or a book burning. He is not criticizing the publication nor the author. He is voicing his objection to issues he finds offensive, as a book-reviewer might do.

      He hasn’t even closed the door on the issue. He remains open to a conversation in order to personally discuss the controversy with “the other side.”

      (Full disclosure: I am a congregant at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue

    18. Carlin Meyer says:

      Might not a truly “Wise” rabbi offer to raise money from its wealthy congregation to pay for a new edition of the book with a compromise definition of Intifada? There are all sorts of words whose meanings have been perverted by some, and perhaps there’s a way to recognize that in the book?

    19. elizabeth says:

      I will be boycotting the store; the bios about Hillary Clinton written for children were bad enough, but this is offensive propaganda. As though Muslim practices and Islamic thought are not already respectfully presented in progressive UWS schools!

    20. Carlin Meyer says:

      To clarify earlier comment, the “perversion” to which I refer is NOT the Palestinian uprisings in response to Israeli acts and occupation, but the use by others whose causes are less just.

      • Been to Both says:

        Maybe you’d also like to clarify what you had in mind by referring to the congregation as wealthy. How are you in a position to know? Or are you just echoing the “rich Jews” trope?

    21. UWSHebrew says:

      “co-owners of Book Culture on Columbus Avenue, who partially funded the book”. THAT’S ALL I NEEDED TO KNOW, THANK YOU WEST SIDE RAG.

    22. Adam says:

      “G” is for “Genocide”, which the Israelis have committed against the Palestinians.

      • UWSHebrew says:

        “A” is for “Abhorrent Adam”, which is what your statement is. There is no “Genocide” of the Palestinians, if there were, Gaza would be a parking lot. Casually throwing around that term to fit your political agenda just lessens your message.

    23. Annie says:

      Would people still think the rabbi was overreacting if there was a picture or reference to a black man in a noose? Or “J is for Japanese internment camps where Japanese people were kept safe”? This book is condoning and minimizing a VIOLENT uprising and the author know it. There are other words to represent ” standing up for what you believe”. I think the Rabbi is justified in being upset and he has a right to handle it as he sees fit. Of course he wants publicity, that’s how change occurs and to believe otherwise is naive. I think people are anit-semitic and roll their eyes when Jews complain. But really think about this type of reference to slavery, gun violence etc and see how you honestly feel. There are people who felt they were “fighting for a cause” when the twin towers were destroyed or for other terrorist acts. Everyone knows that the definition of intifada necessarily includes violence. Otherwise, what is it? Artistic resistance?? How is that the intifada? That’s called artistic resistance.

    24. Gail says:

      Bravo to the author, the rabbi and Book Culture for their willingness to meet & discuss. Powerful disagreement shouldn’t mean incivility or estrangement. Thank you Phil O for your reasoned response. Book Culture will get more of my business for offering controversial, even provocative, books.

    25. Victor M. says:

      Book Culture store owner said, “As owners of the store we may each have differences in our point of view on ‘P is for Palestine’, but we are obligated to the First Amendment.” This is pure nonsense. First Amendment protects speech from government. It is not applicable to a private business. This has been debated ad infinitum. For example, on campuses where pro-Israel speech is often sensored First Amendment protections can apply only to state schools funded with public money. When it comes to anti-Israel speech its advocates cry for the First Amendment. But when it comes to pro-Israel speech they are the first ones to shut such speech down.

      The bottom line is that Book Culture chose to carry a book that is glorifying killing of Jews and Israeli civilians is a pieace of anti-Israel propaganda designed to influence impressionable children from the earliest age. Anti-Israel forces have been trying to get their warped version of history into the US curricula. This happened at the college level already and is now happening at the school level (see: https://www.algemeiner.com/2017/08/07/palestinian-propaganda-is-infiltrating-us-public-schools/). With the help of Book Culture this is now the case at the pre-K level as well.

    26. Jillian says:

      This is not about the First Amendment or censorship of books. Every independent bookstore has its own personality and serves its neighborhood and customers in its thoughtful curating of books, including funding and hosting of selected authors. Mr. Doeblin’s reaction invoking censorship and such is a straw-man argument. On a separate note, I am with Rabbi Hirsch and others that invoking intifada in a young children’s book is part of the destructive attitude that keeps the conflict alive.

    27. IKJ says:

      Thank you for making this public.
      I’ve read enough.
      No longer a customer of this book store.

    28. rcq says:

      Per aspera ad astra Chris, We love independent book stores.

    29. Christina says:

      I’m sorry but WE are NOt in Israel!! Children can read whatever they want in a children’s section! Please keep PC out of this! I’m so sick of certain religions dictating what should or shouldn’t be available!!!

      • UWSHebrew says:

        Tell us what else you’re sick of Christina. We all want to know. Spell it out.

      • JerryV says:

        Christina, You clearly have no understanding of this issue. You write, ” I’m so sick of certain religions dictating what should or shouldn’t be available!!!” But NO ONE is so dictating this. The synagogue is merely stating that this book should not be available for sale in its synagogue.

    30. Been to Both says:

      There’s an irony here in that the “Free” in the name of Rabbi Hirsch’s synagogue means (as explained on the synagogue’s website) that anyone who addresses the congregation can say what he or she wishes. (Among those who have spoken at the synagogue was Bishop Tutu, who was no friend of Israel.) That said, for the author to say that intifada is meant in an artistic, peaceful way is laughingly disingenuous. There may be humming in the background of Rabbi Hirsch’s objection an awareness of the outrageous politicization and weaponization of children’s books in Palestine that are infused with hatred of Israel and, more generally, anti-Semitism.

    31. Marcia says:

      I am impressed by the knowledge of so many who have already written about what the First Amendment really is. Nothing to do what a book store owner chooses to sell, display, highlight, but everything to do with the government and free speech. The author of the book may indeed be a peaceful individual, but it is ingenuous at best to suggest that writing about the intifada (or an intifada; both have a very specific meaning) in a positive manner in a children’s book does not suggest a peaceful response to Palestinian (or any other) children. “Intifada in the Palestinian context also has the manifestations of peace?” To whom but the delusional? And to the owner of the bookstore, the issue is not the “use” of the word. It is the meaning of the word. I suggest he read a bit about both about what the intifada really is and a bit about the First Amendment. Until then, I have a bridge he may like to buy.

    32. Adam says:

      The author claims she is “not anti Israel”? It’s very odd then that her twitter feed is filled with so many retweets of extreme BDS postings. Check out the anti-semetic collages of Scarlett Johansson for example.

    33. Nan A Canter says:

      I support Book Culture. As a former member of Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, I am saddened to see their response to this book.

    34. Adam G says:

      The author says she is not anti-Israel, yet by way of further background her social media accounts are loaded with retweets of BDS messaging (including a very ugly and disrespectful collage of Scarlett Johansson).

    35. Adam Cherson says:

      Perhaps the second edition can replace the entry with “I is for Israel, Our Neighbors for Thousands of Years and Thousands More To Come”?

    36. MLuws says:

      I read this article several times before I hesitantly ventured into comments that induced a few more reads. I don’t think anyone directly associated with this book did so lightly or recklessly if you trouble yourself to consider their contexts.
      Dr Bashi, via a google search, seems an eminently accredited and accomplished educator.
      I would logically posit that she chose “I is for Intifada” for a children’s book with a eye toward reclaiming the definition in a positive context…”a father and child holding a peace sign”.
      I am very confident that I understand the context of Book Culture and read their statement of obligation to the First Amendment as an affirmation, not a legally binding behavior. After all, their representative goes on to say that they do edit offensive books.
      In this case, a book that is meant to provide young children a feeling of pride in their ethnicity for what is inarguably a discriminated group deserves context. There is an incredible teaching experience right here for each of us should we choose to learn.

    37. Not a fan of intifada. says:

      Calling for intifada in a children’s book in Manhattan. What a scary thought. And the book store not only supports this, but finds it- terrible.

    38. Pat Salomon says:

      How happy I am that this book was written and is available.

    39. Question says:

      I think people should ask themselves, if there was an I for Israel book which contained a page T is for terrorist organization (hamas), would they find that acceptable in a children’s book. It’s not saying every Palestinian is a terrorist. It’s just calling attention to a terrorist organization.

      One has the freedom to write that, but would not the Muslim community be upset?

      Or has it just become so acceptable to hate Israel that it’s just different.

    40. David Solomon says:

      I am surprised, even shocked, that a bookseller does not understand that the First Amendment regulates the power of the Federal government and by extension other governmental authorities to interfere with the expression of ideas (among other things).
      It has absolutely nothing to do with whether Book Culture should support the book, accede to the Rabbi’s demand, or take no action.
      It is intellectually dishonest to use the First Amendment as a defense.

    41. rk says:

      FAKE NEWS!!!

    42. Anon. says:

      Well finally, UWSers have found something else to complain about beside new construction and the Gilder Center at the AMNH, Yay, a win-win!

    43. Barbara Litt says:

      I would love to be at that meeting myself! I’m not convinced that this is a First Amendment issue. The book is offensive to me and inappropriate for children. Do they really need to know I is for intifada? Is that truly in a child’s best interest? First Amendment or child protection?

    44. C is for closed, which is what this store will soon be. Maybe they should try opening a shop in any of the Hamas controlled territories, see how well they do. This store won’t stay in business another year, if there are any proud Jews still living in NYC.

    45. Oona says:

      Sometimes a little less noise is better. There are many who believe the establishment of Israel was a wrongful solution to one problem because it created another in that it took over the homeland belonging to the Palestinians. We will never have peace in the world until this displacement is resolved. I know a little something about this as I’m Irish and our Country has never been settled and never will be settled until the English remove themselves. 800 years of strife should be a valuable lesson to anyone who is paying attention.

      • UWSHebrew says:

        What a shocker, an Irish woman who is anti-Israel, lecturing us all on “conflict”. Here is a clue — nobody cares what you have to say, as you are biased. Ireland always sides with “the underdog”, no matter what the facts are.

        • Bruce Bernstein says:

          what a a surprise — UWSHebrew denigrating a commenter, at least partially based on nationality.

          Oona, i urge you to regard this as a compliment, as it puts the Irish in the same camp as his two other “most reviled” ethnic groups: Blacks and Hispanics.

          What a lovely person this fellow is.

        • Oona Shanely says:

          Name-calling always wrong mostly ineffective . http://www.jewishireland.org

      • Poona says:

        If Israel took over the “homeland belonging to the Palestinians,” what year was the term “Palestinian” first used and why? When was a desolate sliver of land the size of NJ “home” to Arabs in Palestine? Why did most Jews of 23 Arab countries leave their homes? How did the peaceful coexistence of Arabs and Jews of Palestine come to an end?

        • Oona Shanely says:

          Lots of debate here my friend but this quote suits –
          Israel was called The Palestine since the days of the Greek philosopher-historian Herodotus.
          It was called so, even during the time the Jewish nomads came from Persia and later on from Egypt.
          Officially the true name of Palestine simply is …Palestine.
          It is a name derived from the Ancient and wise Greeks a very long time ago.
          The beauty of the Greeks is, among all other things of course, that they used to write down each and every thought they had in their minds.
          Do not forget that from the 7 Arts, to physics, geometry, mathematics, medicine, trigonometry, literature, democracy etc. each and every thought is written on some sort of book or notepad.
          One of those books is The Herodotus Book. That happened almost 3000 years ago.
          That’s exactly what you need to to read in order to discover how, why and when the Middle East was called Phoenicia and Palestine.
          Please do not trust my words only, do some research.

          • UWSHebrew says:

            A derivitave of the name “Palestine” first appears in Greek literature in the 5th Century BCE when the historian Herodotus called the area “Palaistin?”(Greek – Παλαιστ?νη). In the 2nd century CE, the Romans crushed the revolt of Shimon Bar Kokhba (132 CE), during which Jerusalem and Judea were regained and the area of Judea was renamed Palaestina in an attempt to minimize Jewish identification with the land of Israel.

    46. UWS Craig says:

      It is my hope that this dialog in our community will help take us one small step closer to lasting peace in the Middle East.

    47. Scott says:

      “Intifada” doesn’t mean murder, it means uprising. It means resistance, the same hashtag Never Trumpers use liberally. In any case if this rabbi knew anything he’d know Palestinians die at a roughly 10-1 ratio to Israelis. So the real murderers wear IDF unis, on our tax dime. If I’m this bookstore I’d tell him to get stuffed.

      • Peace says:

        Yes, more Palestinians are killed than are Israelis. And more Isis are killed than are Americans. That’s the nature of defending against terrorists.

        • Scott says:

          Likening Palestinian civilians to ISIS. It’s embarrassing language like this that puts Zionists in such a terrible light. Still waiting for the usual liberals on this site to say “You call yourself an UWSer? we’re liberal here. Maybe you should move.” Where are you guys?

          • UWSHebrew says:

            Scott, maybe YOU SHOULD MOVE, maybe there are more ZIONISTS (gasp!), than anti-Israel Boycott Divest Sanctioners like you on the UWS. You would LOVE Detroit, you will be welcome with open arms there!

            • Scott says:

              Well, perhaps these Zionists shouldn’t call themselves liberals, because they’re not. They’re frauds and poseurs supporting a belligerent ethnostate. And your crack about “Detroit” speaks volumes.

      • UWSHebrew says:

        Scott — would you like to cite the ratio of death between American soldiers and Iraqi’s (including scores of civilians) in the first Gulf War? How about American soldiers to the Taliban? 10 – 1? 100 – 1? 1,000 -1? 10,000 – 1? Try 100,000 – 1! If Palestinians want to stop being killed, STOP FIRING ROCKETS or STABBING SOLDIERS or KIDNAPPING SOLDIERS. Sorry to upset you, but the days of Jews lining up to be slaughtered ARE OVER FOREVER.

    48. Richard says:

      How about you let me buy whatever book I want to buy and if you don’t want to buy it I won’t force you to. UWS liberals now banning books.

    49. AnDee says:

      WEST SIDE RAG – please post an update. Per the synogogue’s website, the Rabbi and the booksellers had a productive meeting, and have reached an agreement as to how to move forward and allow Book Culture to participate in the book fair at the synagogue (https://www.swfs.org/news/book-culture-releases-statement-stephen-wise-free-synagogue-to-host-book-fair-as-planned/). Amazing what calm, rational conversation can achieve, which is often missing from some of the postings here!