A popular Facebook group for New York moms has temporarily shut down amid an internal battle sparked by the promotion of a children’s book called “P is For Palestine.”
The group “UES Mommas,” which has more than 27,000 members, usually posts about strollers and tutors. But when the author of the new book, Golbarg Bashi, posted in the group to promote her upcoming appearance at a Manhattan book store, all hell broke loose.
Group members were angered by what they saw as the book’s anti-Israel leanings — especially the book’s entry “I is for Intifada, Intifada is Arabic for rising up for what is right, if you are a kid or grownup!”
“Intifada,” the Arabic word for “tremor” or “shaking off,” was used to refer to two violent Palestinian uprisings in the 1980s and 2000s. More than 1,000 Israelis and 5,000 Palestinians combined were killed in the two intifadas in the 1980s and 2000s.
The Forward was able to access screenshots of some members complaining about Bashi’s post and book. One woman accused Bashi of “inciting death.”
“Nothing more racist than Muslims!!!!!!!” another wrote.
Some were critical of Bashi but also dismayed by the furor: “In the years I’ve been a part of this fb group I’ve never seen this kind of dialogue and it’s very upsetting and inappropriate,” one person posted. “I’ve also never seen a politically motivated agenda be promoted. Politics should be kept off this site.”
By Sunday evening, group moderators “archived” the group, banning new posts.
A group monitor announced that she was “meeting with Facebook” to discuss next steps, including possibly shutting down the group permanently.
“The actions of certain members highlight the extreme level of intolerance for varying opinions that is plaguing our world,” she wrote. “We have no interest in maintaining a group that cannot engage in respectful dialogue due to an overwhelming sense of entitlement and zero accountability.”
This is not the first time the group has seen vicious debates: According to Jezebel, the group had a “war” over vaccines in 2014, and arguments in August over Black Lives Matter and the Charlottesville white nationalist rally led some members to threaten defamation lawsuits for being called “racists.”