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The colouring book that got people hot under the collar

by Zahid Jadwat

‘From the River to the Sea’, a children’s colouring book, was recently pulled off the shelves. [Picture: Palestine Festival of Literature/X]

 

A colouring book meant for children drew the ire of Zionists and prompted South Africa’s largest bookstore chain to pull it off the shelves. But many who support the Palestinian cause believe the move was nothing short of censorship.

On Tuesday, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) took to Instagram to lament the removal of From the River to the Sea: A Colouring Book from the shelves of Exclusive Books. The book is titled after a popular pro-Palestine slogan.

 

This was after Cape South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) called for the “cessation” of what it deemed an “extremely irresponsible publication”.

Speaking in an interview on Salaamedia, South African Booksellers Association president Mohamed Kharwa found it difficult to believe the book was as offensive as it was made out to be.

“You can order books which are very very controversial in different ways, but we see that a childrens’ colouring book of 30 odd pages seems to have offended someone, when there is nothing there that actually infringes on anybody’s values,” he said.

 

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Comparing bookstores to social media platform X, Kharwa said they were supposed to facilitate the exchange of ideas. Importantly, he said, they are supposed to be places of ideas.

“Booksellers were the original Twitter, where people would be able to share ideas. Books are a way for people to communicate. They’re a way for people to share ideas, or for people to learn about different views,” he said.

According to activist Hassen Lorgat, more than 3 000 copies of the book have been sold since its launch in February. A charitable endeavour, proceeds from the sale of the book were meant to be directed towards NGO Penny Appeal’s projects in Gaza, Palestine.

The Palestinian enclave has come under the spotlight in recent months as the site of what could be deemed a genocide. At least 36 654 people have been killed since Israel began a war of extermination in October.

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