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Anger at security barrier distortions – The Australian Jewish News



A CHILDREN’S book misrepresenting the purpose of Israel’s security barrier with the Palestinian territories has been pulled from the shelves of a major bookseller.

The book, Protest!, co-authored by sisters Alice and Emily Haworth-Booth, and offered by a number of well-known Australian booksellers, is a history of protest movements written for young readers.

Detailing protest movements down the centuries, it is described online by one Australian reseller as “an inspiring and timely illustrated history of peaceful protests from around the world”.

However, a passage about the security barrier in Israel has alarmed a Jewish mother in Melbourne, who was reading from the book to her 10-year-old child, when she encountered the one-sided narrative about the barrier, which began construction in 2002 during the second Palestinian intifada.

Her concern – as reported to the Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) – was that the passage did not mention that the barrier was built to stop a years-long barrage of terrorist attacks from the Palestinian territories.

The barrier is widely regarded as having saved the lives of hundreds if not thousands of Israelis during the 2000-2005 intifada, during which some 1000 Israelis and more than 60 foreigners were killed.

The section about the barrier, which includes an illustration, states, “Over decades of wars, the state of Israel has taken over more and more of the land, and millions of Palestinians have been forced to leave their homes.

“As well as fighting in the wars, the Palestinians also resisted non-violently with protest … But eventually in 2002, Israel began building a towering fence to separate the Israelis from the Palestinians.

“The fence didn’t care if you lived on one side and worked on the other. It didn’t care if you had to go the long way round to get to school or go to the doctor,” the book states.

After an approach by the ADC, Tony Nash, CEO of Booktopia, this week announced plans to withdraw the book from Booktopia’s stock list.

ADC chair Dvir Abramovich described the passage in the book as “ideologically driven text, which borders on fiction and fantasy” and asks children “to accept that it is the Israelis who are the villains” and that Palestinians “are simply resisting Israeli aggression”.

The book “not only ignores and whitewashes Palestinian violence” but fails to mention Hamas “or that this security barrier was a defensive measure [or that] the Palestinian Authority has rejected successive Israeli peace offers and has cultivated a culture of incitement and murder … This book should not sit on any shelf or be read to children.”

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