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Disgrace on Campus

Students, Profs Boycott Bookstore for Supporting Israel


By Toni Airaksinen
New York Campus Correspondent -

More than 170 members of the Columbia University community have signed onto a petition calling for a boycott of a local bookstore for affirming Israel’s right to exist.

The petition takes aim at Book Culture, a locally-owned independent bookstore that also sells textbooks. In response to backlash from a local synagogue after the store began selling P is For Palestine, a book that praises “intifada,” the owners of Book Culture released a statement acknowledging the violence perpetrated against Israeli civilians during the Palestinian uprisings known as the first and second intifadas.

“We regret that we did not fully appreciate the political or communal ramifications of the children’s book, P is for Palestine, by Dr. Golbarg Bashi, nor did we anticipate the pain and distress it has caused in our community,” the statement began.

The owners of Book Culture also sought to dispel any misconceptions that they may support terrorism against Israelis, and further noted that they “support Israel’s right to exist” and “do not endorse the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.”

This statement angered members of Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine, who subsequently launched a petition to boycott Book Culture, urging the owners to retract their statement of support for Israel and reaffirm support for “marginalized voices in literature.”

According to the petition, Book Culture’s owners “conflate the term ‘intifada’ with ‘terrorism,’ doing a gross disservice to the complexity of the first and second intifadas as periods of massive grassroots mobilization against Israeli apartheid, occupation, and ethnic cleansing.”

“We call on the greater Columbia community to boycott the bookstore until it meets these demands. This boycott includes both a refusal to patronize the store, and, if possible, a refusal to send course materials, such as textbooks, to Book Culture for student pickup,” the petition concludes.

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