Juan Pablo Iglesias talks about the new translation into English, Hebrew, and Arabic of his children’s book, “Daniel & Ismail”, a picture book originally written in Spanish that confronts the very real social and political conflicts that are happening in the Middle East and other parts of the world.
“Daniel and Ismail” is a book that I wrote in response to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Chile. Chile has the largest Palestinian community outside the Middle East, and contains a small Jewish community to which I belong. In this era of social media, I began to feel a larger sense of hostility between the two communities. I found that the anonymity of these online spaces created a breeding ground for hate speech and threats of violence, and many feared that these online threats would soon lead to violence in real life.
It is in this context that the book emerged, as I felt it was my responsibility as a Chilean Jew to do something about it. I needed to find a way to educate and raise awareness about the prejudices that both parties felt for one another.
So yes, I realize that a children’s book is not going to solve the crisis in the Middle East, but as Pirkei Avot says: “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it”.