We recently discussed the concern over the criminalization of speech in Israel. Now there is an added concern after Israel’s Education Ministry disqualified Dorit Rabinyan’s award winning “Gader Haya” (literally “Hedgegrow,” but known in English as “Borderline”)from being used in high schools. The reason? The novel describes a love story between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man. The Education Ministry decided that the novel threatened “the identity and the heritage of students in every sector,” and the belief that “intimate relations between Jews and non-Jews threatens the separate identity.”
It is a truly disappointing decision from a nation founded by people who survived book burning and censorship laws. The Education Ministry insisted that “young people of adolescent age don’t have the systemic view that includes considerations involving maintaining the national-ethnic identity of the people and the significance of miscegenation.” Wow. Miscegenation?
Recently published in Hebrew by Am Oved about a year and a half ago, the novel tells the story of Liat, an Israeli translator, and Hilmi, a Palestinian artist, who fall in love in New York. The couple eventually moves back to Tel Aviv and the West Bank city of Ramallah. It is now the romance that the Education Ministry dares not speak its name.
The decision reverses the view of a professional committee headed by Prof. Rafi Weichert from the University of Haifa and including academics, Education Ministry representatives and career teachers. The panel recommended the use of the book. The panel’s role is to advise the ministry on various educational issues, including approval of curriculum.
I have long admired Israeli educational standards and its remarkable educational system. It is therefore particularly disappointing to see such anti-intellectual and intolerant views emerge over the assignment of such books. It is ignorance and intolerance that threatens Israel not concepts considered by some to be offensive like miscegenation.
Source: New York Times