Subscribe to our Newsletter

click to dowload our latest edition



Kids’ colouring book erases Jews from Israel



Just days after South African President Cyril Ramaphosa uttered the phrase, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” at the African National Congress’s last election rally, a South African colouring book titled From the River to the Sea appeared on local bookshelves.

“From the river to the sea” is as an antisemitic call for the eradication of Israel and the genocide of all who live in it. The colouring book shows children that no Jews exist or have the right to exist in the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Not one Jew or Israeli appears on its pages, except as sinister figures “oppressing Palestinians”. Even the cover depicts two children – a South African and a Palestinian – with no Israeli child in sight.

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) criticised the book for “promoting the obliteration of Jews from our historical and rightful homeland” and “indoctrinating children”. The creators of the book, Social Bandit Media, responded that this was “a co-ordinated attempt to intimidate and harass us … now Zionists want to burn South African children’s book too”.

After a general outcry, the books were removed from South Africa’s biggest bookstore chain, Exclusive Books. This led to a vicious campaign against it. Exclusive Books has chosen not to comment. The book is also on the shelves of Cape Town independent bookstore The Book Lounge, prominently displayed alongside other anti-Israel books.

The colour-by-number book, which is aimed at children between ages six and 10, says that it “introduces young readers to the key concepts driving and sustaining Palestinian resistance”. This includes a page dedicated to the concept of intifada, which encompasses two violent Palestinian uprisings in which about 1 000 Israelis were killed by suicide bombings in the early 2000s.

The book then goes on to tell children that people who die for the Palestinians are “martyrs – heroes who have a special place in Palestinian society”. Children can then colour in a picture of the late academic, Refaat Alareer, who described all Jews as “evil”. In a BBC interview, he described the 7 October attack as “legitimate and moral”. He compared the attack to the Warsaw ghetto uprising, and accused Israel of fabricating evidence of sexual assault by Hamas on 7 October.

He also infamously asked on social media if a baby baked in an oven on 7 October was “baked with or without baking powder”. He was killed by an Israeli airstrike during the war in Gaza in December. The book describes him as being “assassinated”.

Children can colour a picture of a Palestinian covering their face with a keffiyeh, in the style of Hamas terrorists. They are also given a picture of “protest icon” Ahed Tamimi, who has been arrested twice by Israel, the second time when she posted on social media in November 2023, “Come on settlers, we’ll slaughter you. What Hitler did to you was a joke. We’ll drink your blood and eat your skulls.”

The book’s text calls Israel “a military outpost of Western imperialism” and says “Israel imposed apartheid policies in all of historic Palestine”.

Children are invited to colour the fake series of maps showing how “Palestine” has “shrunk”. They are told that in 1948, “Israel was created on the land of Palestine”, and that “Israel has tried to hide the truth by targeting Palestinian journalists, many have been killed by Israel for exposing the truth.”

The 40-page book costs about R100. All proceeds go to Penny Appeal SA’s “Palestine projects”.

“Looking at the genocides of the 20th century and the paths that led to them, among the many distinguishing steps, one of the most important was the indoctrination of children,” says Jakub Nowakowski, the director of the Cape Town Holocaust & Genocide Centre, explaining why one-sided material is so dangerous for children and society as a whole. “Perpetrators deliberately manipulated young minds, teaching children from the earliest age to hate and to see their fellow human beings as less than human.

“We have seen this in Nazi Germany, in pre-1994 Rwanda, and other places of mass violence. When ‘the enemy’ is pointed out, excluded, and dehumanised, the stage is set for the unthinkable. Children, moulded by propaganda, grow up believing that violence isn’t only acceptable but necessary. They are groomed to take part in the machinery of destruction, to become instruments of hatred.

“As a society, we must prioritise shielding our youth from hate,” says Nowakowski. “Amid the ongoing conflicts of today, we hope that future generations can overcome our collective trauma and build bridges, breaking the vicious cycles of hate. However, achieving this requires not only protecting children from immediate harm, but also ensuring they are not taught to hate.”

The book is illustrated by Nathi Ngubane, a freelance cartoonist who draws for Daily Maverick. In a video interview about the book, he said he aimed to “educate parents and children”, and that “the book’s publishers consulted educators, parents, and experts as well as Palestinian journalists to make the history accurate and accessible to kids. We wanted to show themes of resistance, freedom, and hope throughout the book. We felt it was very important for children to learn about other children in Gaza,” he said, ignoring Israeli children just as his illustrations do.

In May, Ngubane went on a book tour to two schools, one in Cape Town and one in Durban, where he addressed young children and handed out copies.

“It’s repugnant that this publication can be published and targeted at young minds,” the SAJBD said. “We reject attempts to indoctrinate children. While we’re saddened by the ongoing conflict, campaigns like this only perpetuate animosity and prolong the cycle of hatred. We urgently call for the immediate cessation of this extremely irresponsible publication.”

Said Social Bandit Media, “We note that this panic comes as mainstream bookstores in South Africa have started to stock the book. We see the SAJBD statement as an attempt to smear Palestinians and place more pressure on these mainstream bookstores. We urge bookstores to stand on the right side of history.” It said that more than 3 000 copies had been sold.

“The colouring book is antisemitic, devoid of truth, and amounts to propaganda,” says South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) spokesperson Rolene Marks. “Some of the pages glorify violence, unnecessarily exposing children to war outside of their country.

“The slogan, ‘From the river to the sea’, used by terrorist group Hamas, calls for the annihilation of the state of Israel,” says Marks. “The vile colouring book also falsely uses former President Nelson Mandela’s image in support of the genocidal chant, failing to mention that Madiba recognised Palestinians’ and Israel’s right to exist.

“Many South African children face difficulties such as hunger, crime, or bullying, and shouldn’t be forced to grapple with politics in the Middle East,” she says. “Children should enjoy their childhood, and learn to understand their own country first.

“The SAZF is also concerned that this slogan, which incites violence against Israel, has permeated South African society, from the president right down to this children’s colouring book,” says Marks. “It’s far removed from the sentiments of South Africa’s Constitution. Many South Africans, including the millions of people associated with Christian churches, recognise Israel’s right to exist.”

The SA Jewish Report sent questions to Ngubane, but didn’t receive a response by the time of going to print.

Continue Reading


  1. Gary

    Jun 6, 2024 at 1:52 pm

    the Palestine lobby can say the most vile hate-filled genocidal things while we have to bite our tongues and be scared to offend them.

    • Jessica

      Jun 9, 2024 at 10:52 am

      There should by rights be a coloring book specifically for Islamist kids showing that “Palestine” originally meant “Israel”.

  2. Gary

    Jun 6, 2024 at 2:22 pm

    we were expelled down the centuries from one country to another and now they want to expel us from our own land. I dont know how anyone can seriously believe wanted to remove all the Jews from Israel is not anti-semitic. South Africa has become a hateful country.

  3. Bernard

    Jun 6, 2024 at 8:29 pm

    Is work by this cartoonist still being published by Daily Maverick.? I personally have never given D M any money and never will I give them. I consider a number of their journalists are anti Israel and anti Jews. A family member of mine used to give D M money on a monthly basis but stopped a few years ago when they published a vicious cartoon depicting Jews in a shocking
    way. I hope others will follow this example.I often walk past the Book Lounge in Cape Town but stopped entering it some time ago after seeing certain publications for sale. I take my money elsewhere.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *