Israel bans novel about Jewish-Arab love story

Israel bans novel about Jewish-Arab love story between Israeli woman and Palestinian man from high school curriculum

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett

Israeli Education Ministry has banned a novel about a love story between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man from the high school curriculum because it could raise tensions between Jews and Arabs in Israel, an official said on Thursday.

According to Israeli media, Dorit Rabinyan's novel, "Borderlife’’ was included in the high school curriculum by the petitions of some teachers.

However, an official from the Israeli Education Ministry said that a committee has rejected the novel as it could raise already high tensions between Arabs and Jews.

The Ministry said in a statement that "young adolescents don't have the systemic view that includes considerations involving maintaining the national, ethnic identity of the people and the significance of miscegenation."

"The book could incite hatred and cause emotional storms (in the classroom)," Dalia Fenig, who is the head of the ministry committee which selects literary works for the curriculum, told Israel's Army Radio.

The novel, "Borderlife," written by Israeli author Dorit Rabinyan, tells the story of Liat, an Israeli translator, and Hilmi, a Palestinian artist, who meet in New York and fall in love. Ultimately, they live their separate ways of life, as she returns to Tel Aviv and Palestinian Hilmi to the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The novelist Rabinyan said her award-winning book tries to bring attention to the similarities and differences between the main protagonists, adding that it has nothing to do with raising tension between two societies.

Rabinyan told Israel Radio, "The two heroes spend a winter overseas and manage to get to know each other in great detail, something that could not happen on the disputed land."

She said, "Perhaps their ability to surmount the obstacles of the Middle East conflict is what threatens the Education Ministry."

Israeli author Dorit Rabinyan poses with her Hebrew-language novel titled ''Gader Haya'' (known in English as ''Borderlife'') at her home in Tel Aviv on Thursday.

Palestinians are the largest minority in Israel, making up almost 20 percent of the country's 8.4 million population.

Jewish-Arab marriages and relations between Israeli Jews and Palestinians are very few. Also the Arab and Jewish education systems are separated with specific curriculums.

Oriana Inbar, a Hebrew literature teacher at a Tel Aviv high school who disagrees with the Ministry’s decision, told Israel Radio that, "I hope the public outcry will prompt the education ministry to change its mind, I will tell my pupils about it and I am certain that they will run to buy the book."

The Israel Education Minister Naftali Bennett who is the leader of the far-right Jewish Home party was criticised in 2013 after he said "I’ve killed lots of Arabs in my life – and there’s no problem with that.”

Since Oct. 1, 2015, more than 100 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces while at least 19 Israelis have been killed in alleged attacks by Palestinians.

The violence between Israelis and Palestinians have increased since Israeli police carried out a raid on the Al Aqsa Mosque compound, one of the holiest sites in Islam.

TRTWorld and agencies