Dear Mr. Tucker,
I am writing to you today to voice my dismay over the decision made by you and your fellow Library Board members to allow Golbarg Bashi, an outspoken supporter of the BDS movement, and author of a book that at best can be described as revisionist and distorted history, to 4-7 year old children at our local library.
The Highland Park Library is the one institution in town where everyone felt welcome. While not every child attends public school, nor does every senior attend events at the Senior Center, people of all ages and from every segment of our community have enjoyed our local library, which is, and has been, primarily funded by our tax dollars, for decades.
And now all that has changed. With an ill-advised decision made ostensibly without any due diligence by a staff librarian, our community has been torn asunder. The Library has taken a diverse, yet unified, community and has literally ripped it apart over this event. The Library has brought global politics, and in this case a vocal supporter of a movement that has been deemed Anti-Semitic by the United Nations, the German Parliament, US Congress, almost 30 States including New Jersey, and 22 municipalities in New Jersey, to our Library to speak to 4-7-year-old pre-school and lower grade children. Your excuse was that it was proposed by a library patron, a member of the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), an organization called an “anti-Israel radical movement” by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), to a library staffer, and without any perusal of who these people are, the staffer agreed to host this event, and therefore it can’t be cancelled.
To say it is due to freedom of speech is a cowardly response to this situation. In a community consisting of many holocaust survivors and their families, and with many residents who have family members in Israel, this was a most insensitive response to a scheduled event that was clearly a mistake, made by an institution that advocates reading, yet nobody from the Library Director to the staff to the Board bothered to read the plethora of material available online with a simple Google search about this group, and about the controversial author of the historically challenged book. It should have been cancelled immediately.
Then when concerned community members protested the reading of this book it was picked up by the press and became a national story. You could have responded by requesting a meeting with community leadership to discuss the situation and find ways to avoid any conflagration. Instead you decided on a public townhall meeting at the Senior Center without any community input and without adequate means of ensuring the residents of Highland Park will have available seats to participate. Through the media it attracted the attention of many outside of Highland Park and there were postings on radical Facebook sites of people coming in large numbers from all over to attend this meeting.
At the last moment Jewish community leaders met with the Mayor and Police Chief to discuss security for this meeting. In spite of a planned massive police presence there weren’t any guarantees of no confrontations at the meeting, and the decision was made to cancel in the name of safety. Under your leadership, our library which should serve as a vehicle to promote the access of information, peace and harmony, instead serves as a platform to promote strife, hostility and possibly violence.
Now you and your Board have added salt to the wound by scheduling the event on Hoshana Rabbah, one of the holiest days in the Jewish calendar. Perhaps it was plain ignorance of the Jewish calendar, which after all that has transpired, should have been consulted together with one or more members of the local Rabbinate before making this decision. Now people of the Jewish faith will have their holiday disturbed by your actions. Much different than the postponement of a library meeting back in June during the holiday of a different religion. Obviously, the library isn’t sensitive to the Jewish community and give it the same consideration.
Mr. Tucker this time the Library Board has gone too far. You are clearly not attuned to the community, its concerns and its welfare. As such, I am publicly asking you and other Board members that ignored the concerns of our community, to resign immediately, so that the Mayor can appoint new Board members that will understand the complexities of the Highland Park community, seek to work with the community rather than impose its will on it, and keep the library functioning as a place of education rather than as a political sewer.
We are a unified community and the actions that you and the Board have taken since this event was incredulously scheduled back in April have been without any concern of its ramifications. It is time for our community to heal and rebuild what it had before this event was scheduled.
Do the right thing for Highland Park and step down now.
Thank you.Josh Pruzansky