Oh to have been a fly on the wall at Friday night dinner...
On Monday, Jonathan Kay, managing editor of the National Post's Comment section, stood up for the controversial Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak, the children's book by Deborah Ellis that some want banned from schools and libraries.
A few months back, the Ontario Library Association (OLA) short-listed Ellis' book Three Wishes: Palestinians and Israeli Children Speak for a literature award. This angered the Canadian Jewish Congress, which claims the book is inappropriate for grade-schoolers because some of the Palestinians Ellis interviewed support terrorism. In response, the York District School Board removed Three Wishes from its reading list. And the Toronto District School Board barred 4th and 5th graders from borrowing the book unless they have a parent's permission. Last week, the controversy made the front page of the Toronto Star.
Having read Three Wishes, I don't see what the fuss is about. This is one of those rarest of Canadian birds: politically correct censorship from the right.
Good for Kay. Given the usual slant of the Post's opinion pages, this came as a surprise.
Today however, a contrary view -- this time from columnist Barbara Kay (sub. req'd.) The emphasis is mine.
As the book touches on sensitive issues -- one interviewee expresses a wish to become a suicide bomber -- Three Wishes has ignited controversy in Ontario, where it's been nominated for a literary prize.
My fellow columnist feels the book highlights real concerns even-handedly -- Palestinian children's sense of grievance balanced by Israeli children's fears of terror. He admits to one reservation, however: "The only thing [author Deborah] Ellis might be faulted for is not providing more detail about how Arab leaders encourage such murderous hatred."
But what he perceives as a mere shortcoming I believe corrupts the whole enterprise.
Even more misleadingly, Ellis states: "Many Palestinians disagree with the suicide bombings ... But other Palestinians consider suicide bombers to be martyrs, or heroes." This equivocation is disingenuous. While individual Palestinians may disapprove of the practice, the official position is clear: Parents of bombers are financially rewarded by authority figures. Teachers, rock stars, clerics, media pundits and sports heroes are all complicit in advancing child suicide bombing as a cultural norm.
Three Wishes seems even-handed on the surface, but scratch lightly, and it emerges as a paean to wishful thinking by a moral relativist who can't bear to admit that some cultures value life in general, and their children's lives in particular, more than others.
Leaving aside the merits of the book, which I have not read, I have to say B. Kay should have been more precise when referring to J. Kay.
He's her son.