Taking another step down the dark path of hatred and conflict, Israel just banned a romance novel from its high school curriculum because it sent a message of interfaith love.
A professional committee, composed of a large number of academics and educators, recommended earlier this year that Dorit Rabinyan’s Gader Haya be taught in schools. However, since the book features a relationship between a Palestinian man and a Jewish woman, the Ministry of Education shot it down.
The officials reportedly rejected the book in an effort to preserve what they referred to as “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.”
The Ministry of Education also expressed concern 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.” In other words, Israel doesn't want people different races or religions to fall in love or have children.
The Hebrew language book, known in English as Borderlife, tells the story of an Israeli translator and a Palestinian artist who meet and fall in love in New York. The novel, which won Israel’s prestigious Bernstein Prize, gave an in-depth view of the complications that arise due to militarized border and the ever-growing conflict between the occupier and the occupied.
This move seems to have offended Israeli politicians and authors as well.
“This is none of [Education Minister] Naftali Bennett's business,” opined author Haim Be'er. “Tomorrow he will disqualify Behind the Fence because Bialik's hero falls in love with a Christian and he'll create a committee to monitor relationships in literature. This is a dizzying and dangerous act that he's doing in order to find support in his crowd after he praised the Shin Bet and his stock went down, that's clear.”
The ban is believed to represent the Middle Eastern country’s larger state policy and societal views regarding intermarriages between Israeli Jews and Arab Palestinians. For instance, Jews in Israel are not legally allowed to marry someone outside their religion for the sanctity of their bloodlines. Jews believe religion is passed on through the mother's bloodline.
“Borderlife is a good book and there's no point in waiting for the Education Ministry to develop good taste, especially not Naftali Bennett's Education Ministry,” exclaimed Author Meir Shalev. “I also recommend that on this occasion Bennett take out of Bible studies curriculum King Saul and King David, who married foreigners, and Boaz from Bethlehem who married Ruth the Moabitess, the ancestors of King David, and there were other important figures in our history, let's say Sarah the matriarch had an episode with Pharoah.”
Head of literary studies at the ministry, Shlomo Herzig, has reportedly appealed the decision. However, if Israel’s attitude towards Palestinian-Jewish mixing is any indication, it is unlikely that the authorities will lift the ban.