The Highland Park Public Library Board of Trustees has scheduled for presentation on Oct. 20, erev Shemini Atzeret, a program for toddlers called “P is for Palestine, I is for Intifada.” The speaker is a non-resident of Highland Park, an Iranian woman Golbarg Bashi, who is an advocate for BDS against Israel.
The program was originally scheduled for May 19, 2019, but there was an uproar from many in the Jewish community who said that the program was too inappropriate for toddlers, and so it was postponed (JLNJ, June 20). Rescheduling it for erev Shemini Atzeret, a very inconvenient time for Jews to mount an effective protest, shows a deliberate act of cowardice and underhandedness on the part of the library trustees.
Presenting a highly provocative program aimed at little children is itself a deliberate, blatant provocation meant to stir up trouble. However, politicizing a local library and trying to make it part of a broader global agenda by using little children as pawns is absolutely unconscionable. And trying to keep it hidden under the radar adds further insult to injury.
While the library is termed an independent entity, it does receive some funding from the Highland Park borough, has a borough council liaison on its board, has the mayor as an ex-officio member of its board, is a community public service organization and operates under the name, Highland Park Public Library. It should therefore be expected to act in the best interests of the general community in its quasi-governmental capacity and not as a rogue agency with its own agenda. The fact that this stain on the entire Highland Park community did take place, however, was also due in part to lax oversight by the borough administration.
The fear is that this program could be only the first in a series of coordinated anti-Israel and anti-Semitic actions that specifically target the Highland Park area with its large Jewish population, as has been seen in other communities. If so, more incitements are likely to follow and Highland Park may well become ground zero in another front in the ongoing anti-Israel, anti-Semitic war.Max Wisotsky