Pro-assimilation novel banned from Israeli schools

Education Ministry disqualifies novel depicting Arab-Jewish love story for fear it threatens adolescents' 'Jewish identity.'

Menachem Schwartz,

High school students
High school students
Flash 90

Israel's Education Ministry has disqualified a novel which depicts a romance between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man from use in high schools across the country, Haaretz reported Wednesday. 

Dorit Rabinyan's "Gader Haya" (known in English as "Borderlife") was rejected because of the need to maintain "the identity and heritage of students in every sector" and the belief that "intimate relations between Jews and non-Jews threatens the separate identity." 

Concern that "young people of adolescent age don't have the systemic view that includes considerations involving maintaing the identity of people and the significance of assimilation" was also cited as a reason for the novel's disqualification. 

According to Haaretz, the book was rejected in spite of the fact the official responsible for teaching literature in secular state schools, in addition to a committee of academics, recommended adding the book to the advanced class' syllabus at the request of several teachers. 

However, two senior Education Ministry officials, Eliraz Kraus, who is in charge of "society and humanity" studies, and Dalia Fenig, the acting chair of the pedagogic secretariat, both opposed the move. 

"Many parents in the public education system will be strongly opposed to their son/daughter studying [this] novel, and they will see it as an attack on the contract of trust between parents and the educational system," Fenig explained.

"It should be remembered the choice of what creative work to teach is the teacher's and not the students'," she added. 

"Intimate relations and certainly the open option of institutionalization via marriage and raising a family - even if this does not happen in the story - between Jews and non-Jews is seen among many communities in society as a threat to the separate identity."




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