On June 10th, April Powers, Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer for The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, released this statement condemning antisemitism, in light of rising attacks on Jews:
What happened next is proof that the very antisemitism against which she was speaking out is stronger than ever.
To our SCBWI community from Lin Oliver
I want to respond to the events of the last week. Thank you all for your patience. I have been away with my family after over a year’s absence and with no social media, so I apologize for this tardy response. On behalf of SCBWI, I would like to apologize to everyone in the Palestinian community who felt unrepresented, silenced, or marginalized. SCBWI acknowledges the pain our actions have caused to our Muslim and Palestinian members and hope that we can heal from this moment. I also want to offer my apologies to Razan Abdin-Adnani for making her feel unseen and unheard by blocking her. She has been unblocked from our feed.
As a remedy to these events, we have taken some initial steps:
- Effective immediately, we have accepted the resignation of April, our Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer.
- We are creating board seats and Equity and Inclusion Committee slots for Muslim members of the SCBWI.
- Our E&I committee will specifically review our policies regarding freedom of expression for all underrepresented members to make sure no one is silenced or unsafe.
- WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU. Please send us your suggestions as to what further actions we should take. We will give every suggestion serious consideration and will report back with more changes. Please send emails to [email protected]
Finally, in resigning, April, our Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer, has asked that we share this message with you:
“By posting an antisemitism statement, our intention was to stay out of politics. I removed both anti-Palestinian and anti-Israeli posts, which in hindsight was not the right thing to do. I neglected to address the rise in Islamophobia, and deeply regret that omission. As someone who is vehemently against Islamophobia and hate speech of any kind, I understand that intention is not impact and I am so sorry.
While this doesn’t fix the pain and disappointment that you feel by my mishandling of this moment, I hope you will accept my sincerest apologies and resignation from the SCBWI. I wish all of you success in your work because the world’s children need your stories. All of them. – April”
If anyone “in the Palestinian community…felt unrepresented, silenced, or marginalized” and “pain” from a post speaking out against Jew-hatred, then perhaps those people are actual Jew-haters (ok, not perhaps).
I mean, they keep telling us that anti-Zionism is not antisemitism. Yet when a condemnation of real Jew-hatred elicits such a response, it means these people actually do view antisemitism as “legitimate criticism of Israel.”
This apology for not mentioning Islamophobia is very reminiscent of Eat Up The Borders’ recent apology over the Israeli food truck fiasco, in which they apologized also to the “palestinian community.”
Let me be very clear:
- Speaking out against actual Jew hatred need not mention Islamophobia
- Jew hatred does sometimes come from those in the palestinian Arab and Muslim communities, and it is not Islamophobic to condemn it
By the way, Razan Abdin-Adnani, to whom Lin Oliver apologized, actually seems to be antisemitic. She tells European Jews that “Germany and Poland are quite nice these days”
and objects to politicians visiting businesses hit by antisemitic graffiti
Update: Funny how no apology was issued following their speaking out against anti-Asian hate.
Words cannot express the horror & sadness we feel each time a member of our human family has been senselessly murdered. We stand with Asian people everywhere to say that children’s book creators, editors, agents, and publishers must support a world where this cannot be. pic.twitter.com/qeZHiEdhYj
— scbwi (@scbwi) March 18, 2021