Posted: 2/28/2006 11:03:00 PM
Author: George Baker
Librarians Against Israel: The Outrage Continues
By: George Baker
Thursday, January 29, 2004
Editor`s Note: A year ago (the issues dated Dec. 27, 2002 and Jan. 17, 2003, to be precise) The Jewish Press featured a pair of front-page essays by a librarian who, under the pseudonym N. Leonard Tolkan, examined a phenomenon we called ``Librarians Against Israel.`` The author documented case after case of anti-Israel (and, not incidentally, anti-U.S.) bias in the ranks of America`s librarians and demonstrated how that bias affects the selection of books, films, and lecture presentations on the part of our public libraries.
Editor`s Note: A year ago (the issues dated Dec. 27,
2002 and Jan. 17, 2003, to be precise) The Jewish Press
featured a pair of front-page essays by a librarian who,
under the pseudonym N. Leonard Tolkan, examined a
phenomenon we called ``Librarians Against Israel.``
The author documented case after case of anti-Israel
(and, not incidentally, anti-U.S.) bias in the ranks of
America`s librarians and demonstrated how that bias
affects the selection of books, films, and lecture
presentations on the part of our public libraries.
The situation has not changed for the better, as
former library administrator George Baker (also a
pseudonym makes clear.
Are you ready for this one? Hamas and Fatah are
not terrorist groups, but rather political organizations.
That is what it says on a website, and, sadly, you do
not have to be very naive to believe it. You see, a
librarian put it together, and people tend to trust
librarians. They think of them as knowledgeable and
fair-minded. Well, maybe they shouldn`t.
The website is the handiwork of Christof Galli,
Middle East resources specialist at Duke University`s
Perkins Library, and member of the Muslim Networks
Consortium, a group run, in part, by Ebrahim Moosa,
who teaches at Duke. As reported in the April 23
edition of The Chronicle, a Duke University
newspaper, Professor Moosa has exclaimed: ``I think
the language of `terrorism` is going to go out, and it`s
going to be replaced with `resistance` and `liberation`
from American power.``
In its original form, Galli tellingly entitled the
website ``Palestine Internet Resources,`` and it
contained a map on which Israel was nonexistent. The
website -- defended in writing by head librarian David
Ferriero -- is hardly limited to bashing Israel and
spouting the usually subtle anti-Jewish asides
employed by so many of those who despise the Jewish
state. In fact, it can be quite overtly anti-Semitic,
linking to a racist cartoon, for example, in which the
Star of David is crafted from barbed wire.
I consider myself to be on the center of the
political spectrum, but must give considerable credit to
the Duke Conservative Union. It was the DCU whose
members first exposed the website`s bigotry, as well as
the overwhelmingly pervasive anti-Bush sentiments
found on a second Perkins Library website, likewise
constructed by Galli.
A recent editorial in New Sense, a DCU magazine,
summed up this sorry state of affairs: ``Mr. Galli and
Mr. Ferriero should be deeply ashamed of their actions.
The former `librarian` misused his post as a bully
pulpit to preach to unsuspecting students. The latter is
too foolish to realize this. Neither man deserves a
position at a serious institution of higher learning.``
But what has occurred at the Perkins Library is
by no means unique. Ponder what has been taking
place at the Boulder Public Library in Boulder,
Colorado. The outreach librarian there is Lebanon-
born Ghada Elturk, who has been active in the
American Library Association`s International Rela-
tions Round Table. Her published writings reveal
someone who is a passionate advocate of the Pales-
tinian cause. But has Elturk used her job to propa-
gandize for it? You be
In April of 2002 alone, at least six pro-Palestinian
films -- and not one that even by a stretch of the
imagination could be considered pro-Israeli -- were
shown in the library`s main branch. The distributors of
one of those, ``The Bombing,`` describe their creation as
a motion picture that does not take sides, but that is
simply not the case. Its narration unequivocally
blames Israel for homicide/suicide bombings, without a
hint of placing any of the onus on the Palestinian
Authority's unrelenting indoctrination of its young
people into the "glories" of jihad.
Moreover, several of the pro-Palestinian films
viewed that month were added to the Boulder Public
Library`s permanent collection, and are currently
available for loan. Acquisitions at the library have, for
some time now, been heavily skewed against Israel. An
examination of its online catalog will confirm that. Yet
another pro-Palestinian program has already been
scheduled there for November 1, 2004. And to promote
that event, the library's website, already quite hostile
to Israel, gushes over with praise for the likes of
Hanan Ashrawi. Nothing is said of Ashrawi's
justification for the torture and lynching of the two
Israeli reservists who wandered into Ramallah in
October of 2000. Not a word is mentioned of her
steadfast refusal to make an unambiguous
denunciation of Palestinian terrorism.
Clearly, we are witnessing a disturbing trend --
one that raises distinct questions about professional
ethics and accountability -- at work in our public
libraries. Please understand that one is not advocating
censorship when one asks whether communities are
entitled to fairness, balance, discretion and sensitivity
from their public libraries. Are those not the very
values that are supposed to underlie the library
profession? And are they not especially important
when ethnic and international political disputes of long
duration are involved?
But balance and sensitivity have long gone
missing in the precincts of the Israel-hating Left. In
the meantime, all too many of your friendly
neighborhood librarians are busily spreading their
anti-Israel animus. Some more examples:
A pro-Palestinian film series was held at the Flint
[Michigan] Public Library this past November. The
``good`` news is that it was a trifle more restrained
than the filmfest in Boulder -- ``only`` three pro-
Palestinian films were shown (naturally, though, there
was not a single pro-Israeli presentation).
There was something of a multi-media aspect to
two Israel-bashing programs at the New Brunswick
[New Jersey] Public Library in 2002. On June 29 of
that year an anti-Israel film was shown. Four months
later, the public was treated to an anti-Israel lecture,
complete with accompanying slide show. The notorious
International Solidarity Movement`s New Jersey
offshoot, led by outspoken terrorism apologist
Charlotte Kates, was heavily involved in those affairs.
I know of no recent pro-Israel programs at that library.
Neither has there been any public rebuttal to the
anti-Israel films shown in the auditorium of the
Berkeley Public Library on October 30 and November 6
of last year. Not that those incidents are unique to
Berkeley or its library system, which has a history of
engaging in grandstanding for the Palestinian side.
One memorable example: back in 1998, a display
window at its main entrance was graced with an
exhibition of drawings by Palestinian children. The
works of art carried such inflammatory titles as:
``Three Israelis Deport a Palestinian Woman From the
Homeland`` and ``Tear Gas in My Eyes.``
On January 30, 1998, the Jewish Bulletin of
Northern California quoted Jack Kessler of the Israel
Action Network in Berkeley as follows: ``It`s an
attempt to smear the Israelis...It`s doubly intolerable
by being on public property and being sponsored by the
library ¶ There have been, of late, increasing acts of
anti-Semitic violence and vandalism in Berkeley. To
what extent have the library`s programs encouraged
The pro-Palestinian propaganda barrage extends
deep into the American heartland. In Iowa, at the
Ames Public Library, what may well be the
granddaddy of ``let`s gang up on Israel`` motion-picture
festivals has perhaps fomented more bitterness and
division than any other library-sponsored Israel-
Because of it, some members of Ames`s small
Jewish community report feeling vulnerable and
isolated. Friendships of long standing have ended, and
at least one library volunteer has resigned in protest.
Beginning on September 11, 2003, and continuing
into December, the Ames Public Library presented an
astonishing thirteen films under the title ``Palestine
Unabridged.`` Not a single one of the movies was even
remotely balanced, let alone sympathetic to Israel.
Some Ames residents, disgusted by this massive
propaganda fest, requested that a five minute
statement be read prior to the showing of one of the
movies, ``Jenin, Jenin.`` That particular film goes
beyond mere championing of the Palestinian cause,
portraying Israelis as hateful, cold-blooded murderers.
Replete with all manner of canard, enhanced by
dishonest editing -- including the insertion of footage
taken from other times and places -- "Jenin, Jenin"
amounts to a cinematic blood libel against the Jewish
Among those who have refuted the lies of Jenin,
Jenin" are an official UN investigative unit; Dr. David
Sangan, an IDF physician who personally witnessed
what actually transpired; a French-led team that
produced the fair-minded documentary ``The Road To
Jenin"; and even Thabet Mardawi, a Palestinian who
fought in Jenin and was later interviewed on CNN.
Needless to say, the UN, CNN, and Mardawi
cannot exactly be accused of partiality to Israel. Why,
then, hasn`t ``The Road To Jenin,`` the much more
objective documentary, been shown at the Ames Public
Library? Why were those concerned Ames citizens --
the ones who in the interest of fairness wanted their
comment read -- turned down flat?
Indeed, although adult services librarian Lynne
Carey acknowledged the anger generated by the
``Palestine Unabridged`` filmfest, she was quoted in the
November 13 Iowa State Daily as saying, ``We haven`t
considered pulling the program despite the concerns.``
Why wasn`t pulling the program even considered?
Is not such close-minded determination indicative of a
lack of responsiveness from public employees
mandated to serve everyone, without prejudice? Why
was ``Palestine Unabridged`` dedicated to the memory
of Rachel Corrie, the American pro-Palestinian activist
whose death has been used by the anti-Israel Left as
another stick with which to beat Israel? And who
decided to bring Corrie`s aunt and cousin, who do not
even live in Iowa, to the library for a ceremony
marking the inception of the series?
Rachel Corrie was the U.S. flag-burning member
of the aforementioned terror-enabling International
Solidarity Movement. She was accidentally killed when
she entered a closed military zone, during an IDF
operation aimed at destroying tunnels used by
terrorists to smuggle weapons from Egypt into Gaza.
Has the Ames Public Library or, for that matter,
Duke University's Perkins Library done anything to
honor the memory of another young American woman,
a Duke University graduate -- a librarian, in fact --
who was killed in the Middle East? I speak of Dina
Carter, murdered along with eight others when a
Palestinian thug blew up the Frank Sinatra Cafeteria
on the Hebrew University campus.
Ms. Carter had been a librarian-archivist at the
Jewish National Library on Mount Scopus, and on the
day of her death she was registering for courses to
improve her professional skills. Unlike Rachel Corrie,
she never mutilated a U.S. flag.
Sorry, but I feel no sympathy for Gina Millsap,
the head librarian at the Ames Public Library, who is
now unhappy that her library is being called anti-
Semitic. Quite ironically, she is active in the laughably-
named Intellectual Freedom Round Table of the
American Library Association. Tell us, Ms. Millsap,
exactly how did ``Palestine Unabridged`` -- a publicly
funded, three-month-long program promoting only one
viewpoint -- contribute in any imaginable way to
freedom of inquiry?
I doubt that many will be fooled by condescending
gestures. Belatedly, those who organized this travesty
requested that The Ames Tribune list and review a
number of pro-Israel books, and the newspaper did so.
But has that made things right and equitable? Do the
reviews really pack the visual and emotional wallop of
week after week of pro-Palestinian films?
There have been other recent Israel-bashing
fiestas that limitations of space prevent me from
mentioning, at least at this point. By the time this
article appears in print, a public library in the Midwest
probably will have hosted an especially big and nasty
More articles about the bias so shockingly
prevalent among librarians will be forthcoming, in this
and other venues, by people both inside and outside
the system who are fed up with the anti-U.S., anti-
Israel slant that has become part of the very culture of
the nation's libraries.
And some class-action taxpayer lawsuits may be
in order to hold municipalities, state governments,
administrators, boards and trustees accountable when
those who work in our public, academic and school
libraries decide that partisanship is more important
than the professional obligation to be fair.
The author worked for many years as a library