From the River to the Sea: SAJFP rejects intimidation and censorship and stands with local artist and publisher

The South African Jews for a Free Palestine (SAJFP) condemn in the strongest terms the Zionist intimidation campaign waged against author and illustrator Nathi Ngubane and Social Bandit Media, the independent publisher of From the River to the Sea: A Colouring Book

We fully agree with the colouring book’s creator, Nathi Ngubane that in the face of the unspeakable ongoing genocide of Palestinian people, it is is of utmost importance that children in South Africa and around the world learn about the history and culture of Palestine. It is imperative that parents and educators have tools like this well researched and expertly produced publication to counter the persistent erasure and silencing of Palestinian voices in public discourse. Indeed, it is this very erasure and silencing that enables their dehumanization and consequently that they are being starved and slaughtered in Palestine.

It is the tragic but certainly not novel irony of Zionist propaganda that the Cape South African Jewish Board of Deputies called for the fascistic censorship of the colouring book and justified their demand for the “immediate cessation of this extremely irresponsible publication” by rejecting “attempts to indoctrinate children.” The double standards of this demand are almost incomprehensible. How dare a Zionist organisation voice concerns about children just days after Palestinian children were burnt alive with their parents, as families tried to shelter somewhere in between the unlivable and overcrowded places whilst all supposed ‘safe zones’ are bombed to the ground by the israeli army? Does the SAJBD not recognise the hypocrisy of accusing a genuine educational project of indoctrination when, in fact, many of our own members were ourselves indoctrinated by Zionist propaganda from a young age, as are so many children to this day in Jewish schools and youth organisations in South Africa and around the world? 

In their outcry over the colouring book’s title, From the River to the Sea, the Cape SAJBD’s willfully ignorant and ruthless intimidation campaign joins the sad but vast chorus of misinformation deployed by governments, universities and Zionist bodies globally. Misinterpreting the slogan is in itself a move of erasure of Palestinian history and political culture, one that is mobilised to stifle pro-Palestinian activism. The manner in which Zionists distort the meaning of ‘from the river to the sea’ is actually a reflection of their ongoing project to Judaise this whole region; it is a reflection of the ongoing Nakba perpetrated by the ethnonationalist state from 1948 until today. In truth, for Palestinians, the long history of the slogan is tied not only to the deep rootedness of their culture in the various regions, towns and villages of historic Palestine, but also to the widely shared political aspiration of a single democratic state in which all people, Palestinian, Jewish, and everybody else, would coexist as equal citizens. 

Instead of being censored, Social Bandit Media and Nathi Ngubane must be praised for their courageous commitment to sharing this vision with children and their caregivers, teaching them the all too rarely told true story of Palestinians, and helping them recognise the connections between past and present racialised dispossession and inequality. We firmly stand with the artist and publisher and this project, and denounce the Cape SAJBD’s intimidation and baseless and unconstitutional call for censorship. 

We call for all those who reject erasure and violent intimidation and have the means to purchase a copy of From the River to the Sea: A Colouring Book. All proceeds benefit Palestine through Penny Appeal South Africa.

From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!