Mandel Jewish Center Cancels Book Event – Author Blames Florida Politics
Author Rachel Beanland, whose event for the West Palm Beach Mandel Jewish Community Center was canceled, is blaming the state’s conservative politics because the center used the “current political climate” as an excuse not to hold the event discussing her book, “The House Is On Fire.”
No law prohibits adults from reading anything they want to, and no one stops them from holding an event for adults or preventing adults from attending a luncheon with any author. The only thing that happened was that the center didn’t want Rachel Beanland. The embarrassed author was insulted and blamed politics in what can only be described as a shrewd marketing move to sell more books.
“The House Is On Fire” is a work of historical fiction about a deadly Richmond, Virginia, fire in the early 1800s that the city blamed on slaves living there. Both the JTA and The Palm Beach Post have come out with scathing, leftist-slanted articles blaming the state instead of allowing the center to take responsibility for a decision that was theirs alone.
According to The Palm Beach Post;
This is Florida,” the staff member wrote, “and our politics around the Black community, the history of the Civil War, and education in general are … complicated.
The Tweets immediately followed.
Jewish Community Centre of Boynton Beach & Palm Beach Gardens has cancelled a talk by author Rachel Beanland because it mentions slavery. “To see a private organization that shouldn’t have any reason to be following these policies essentially implement them is deeply troubling pic.twitter.com/NhnOypMHhl
— MightyOakTree (@MightyOakTree2) September 7, 2023
The JTA wrote;
But in August, Beanland received an email from the JCC’s arts and culture manager asking for more details about her planned presentation, which seemed to imply that it would be best to steer clear of some topics.
Of course, this is Florida, and our politics around the Black community, the history of the Civil War, and education in general are… complicated, the employee wrote. The ellipsis was present in the original message.
A JCC in Palm Beach County, Florida, canceled a @JewishBook Council talk by Jewish author Rachel Beanland because her novel, set in 1811, mentions slavery. The JCC then apologized and re-invited Beanland, but she says no thanks. My story in @jdforward https://t.co/JkKxWw84T9
— Beth Harpaz (@literarydj) September 5, 2023
A few weeks later, the JCC employee wrote back.
After much discussion and debate, we have decided that this book is not the right choice” for the scheduled event, the employee wrote, adding, Also, our decision is very much affected by the current political climate here in Florida.
Last week, Beanland made the email exchange public by posting it to Instagram. The JCC issued a public apology on Monday. On Tuesday, the Jewish Book Council, a significant organization for Jewish authors, issued a statement criticizing limits on free expression and calling for Beanland to be reinvited. The center did invite Beanland back instead of standing their ground, and Beanland said no. Still, she quickly turned to Instagram to give her viewpoint, and another famous historical fiction author, Fiona Davis, posted comments about racism, ignorance, and Mandel JCC.
The leftist articles blame the state’s politics for what happened with the author, even though the laws do not apply to non-public schools. They cite the employee’s email as “proof” of this point. The only thing the employee email points to is the employee’s viewpoint, which should never have been expressed in this situation. There isn’t one elected official who has tried to shut down this event.
Rachel Beanland had this to say;
I feel like if there’s any community in the United States outside of the African-American community that should understand how essential it is for us not to erase or obscure history, it should be the Jewish community,” she said. “And in light of everything that’s happening in Florida, and the fact that DeSantis has kind of ushered in this wave of legislation that is trying to make African-American history, Black history, just disappear — it felt really concerning.
The Forward, which describes itself as a Jewish, independent, nonprofit outlet, also jumped on the bandwagon. They wrongly categorize the “Stop Woke Act” as requiring teachers to tell students that enslaved people benefited from slavery.
The Forward quotes Beanland as saying;
Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis “has all these policies we’re seeing in K-12 schools, removing slavery from textbooks, removing books by Black authors from libraries, Beanland said. But to see a private organization that shouldn’t have any reason to be following these policies essentially implement them is deeply troubling. JCCs can do whatever they want. There’s a separation of church and state.
The part no one points to is the real reason for the cancellation. The CEO of the center, Jesse Rosen, had a completely different story about the reason for the cancellation. He stated that;
In addition to being inappropriate, the email didn’t reflect “the actual reasons” why the center canceled the talk. He went on to say that the committee had determined that the event would be too “topically similar” to one from the previous year that had also focused on slavery — evidence he also cited showing why he believes the JCC has “a long history of taking on hard topics, and we have every intention of continuing to.”
The center is saying “been there, done that” as the reason for canceling Beanland, and the employee who wrote the outlandish email was let go, supposedly for other reasons. But that hasn’t stopped Beanland from seizing the opportunity to bash Governor DeSantis and conservatives while stroking her ego with continued self-promotion instead of facing the truth, which is that she was canceled because the organization just wasn’t that into her.
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