An organization for children’s book authors and illustrators, issued an apology Sunday to Palestinian and Muslim members over a condemnation of antisemitism that the group had posted earlier in the month. The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), the only worldwide professional organization of its kind, which has over 22,000 members around the world, also announced the resignation of the Jewish and black diversity officer who had posted the message.
On June 10, in response to spiking antisemitic violence around the world the equity and inclusion officer for SCBWI posted a statement on behalf of the organization to social media condemning antisemitism. The statement acknowledged that Jews "have the right to life, safety, and freedom from scapegoating and fear."
"Silence is often mistaken for acceptance and results in the perpetration of more hatred and violence against different types of people," the statement continued. “As proof, it saddens us that for the fourth time this year we are compelled to invite you to join us in not looking away and in speaking out against all forms of hate, including antisemitism.”
“As writers, illustrators, and translators of children’s literature, we are responsible for promoting equity and humanizing people in our work — all children and all families.”
At no point did the statement discuss Palestinians, Muslims, Israel, or the Middle East conflict.
The organization in the past has issued condemnations supporting the various religions, races and groups of their members.
A writer named Razan Abdin-Adnani began replying to the statement on Twitter with anti-Israel propaganda, justifying violence against Jews worldwide by hurling baseless accusations against the Jewish state. She also demanded that the organization issue a statement about Islamophobia in her tweets replying to SCBWI’s statement on antisemitism, essentially "all lives mattering" the issue.
She harassed the account so often that the statement condemning antisemitism had to be deleted and reposted 4 times before the Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer April Powers blocked Abdin-Adnani.
Abdin-Adnani went on to harass and dox Powers on her social media platforms.
On June 22, Abdin-Adnani wrote a 31 post Twitter thread/manifesto retconning the events that had transpired and included her thoughts about being dismayed when SCBWI released a powerful statement in support of the Jewish community. Abdin-Adnani claimed "I left an affirmative and polite comment on SCBWI’s Twitter," but at no point does she admit that this comment was followed by dozens more, including antisemitic statements, on the original SCBWI statements condemning anti-Semitism.
In response, SCBWI asked their Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer, who is black and Jewish, to resign, then posted the following statement apologizing to Abdin-Adnani by name and joined the writer in "all lives mattering" the situation.
"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."
SCBWI executive director Lin Oliver also apologized to a the antisemitic writer and stated that Abdin-Adnani had been unblocked from the group’s feed.
Abdin-Adnani did not accept the apology and has called for a boycott of SCBWI. The activist also demanded an investigation into how supportive SCBWI is of the Jewish state.
Had SCBWI researched Abdin-Adnani before apologizing to her, they would have discovered tweets from as recently as June 2 from the activist that said, "Zionists need to go back to Europe and Brooklyn," and "I hear Germany and Poland are quite nice these days."
Her social media profiles are filled with antisemitic tropes and replies on threads demonizing the Jewish state.
Oliver said that Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer April Powers, who issued the statement, had resigned; that board seats and Equity and Inclusion Committee slots would be created for Muslim members; and the committee would review its "policies regarding freedom of expression for all underrepresented members to make sure no one is silenced or unsafe."
"I feel less safe than I did before SCBWI condemned antisemitism," said one Jewish member of SCBWI who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of retribution. "They apologized to an antisemite and their Jewish equity officer had to resign. And now members of the writing community with antisemitic leanings know they have this power over Jewish writers and our careers."
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