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It’s My Opinion: Chanukah Book Fair: Unlikely Time For Jewish Activism

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Unfortunately, a map of the Middle East with no mention of Israel is nothing new. Israel’s Arab enemies have mastered the art of wiping out the country not with a bomb but with a stroke of Photoshop. The Palestinian Authority labels the entire area as “Palestine” in maps, books and textbooks. The strategy, of course, is to denigrate the Jewish state by denying its very existence.

It is surprising however, that the world’s largest publisher of children’s literature, Scholastic Books, has joined in this trend. Its recent children’s novel The Stilton and Blue Scarab Hunt described a treasure hunt in Egypt. The book included a map of Egypt and the surrounding region. All neighboring countries were included, except for one – Israel.

The RASG Hebrew Academy in Miami Beach had already scheduled its annual Chanukah Scholastic Book Fair when administrators heard of the debacle. The fair has always been a good fundraiser for the school, yet the school cancelled the event and called on a local Jewish bookstore to fill in for Scholastic. Profit from the fair went down. Jewish pride went up.

The school viewed this incident as a “teachable moment.” Youngsters learned about becoming advocates for Israel by writing letters to Scholastic Book publishers. High school AIPAC club members educated elementary school children on being “upstanders” for Israel. Head of School, Dr. Roni Raab addressed the student body.

Elementary school coordinator Laurie Mitrani said, “The purpose of this is to make students aware of the way Israel is portrayed in the world and what our responsibilities are as Jews.”

Scholastic has issued an official apology and will reprint the book with an accurate map. The outraged public response has apparently been effective.

Gam zuh l’tova, everything is for the good. Congratulations to RASG Hebrew Academy for its lightning response and refusal to allow this outrage to go on without a proper Jewish response. The school’s students are very fortunate to have been taught this lesson.

About the Author: Shelley Benveniste is South Florida editor of The Jewish Press.


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