The newest scandal in Israel revolves around the Ministry of Education’s censorship of a popular novel intended for students in the high school curriculum.
The book, “Kos ha kaffee she gorma li l’hitahev”. (English title is “Borderline”) was published by the Am Oved publishing house. It is a fictitious novel of the love affair between an Israeli professor, Liat, and a Palestinian Arab artist, Hilmi, from the West Bank, who met one another in a coffee shop in New York and fell in love.
Some believe that the book is autobiographical based on the author, Dorit Rabinyan, who spent several years in New York and was well acquainted with several Arab professionals.
Liat returns to Israel and Hilmi to the West Bank. The love affair is doomed.
The faculty of several high schools insisted on incorporating the book into their curricula, but their request was denied by the Ministry of Education and the courts which upheld the decision for fear of encouraging students’ romantic relations between Jews and Arabs.
Rabinyan’s book has been censored for school use but students are free to buy copies and read them in their homes. Am Oved reports sales of more than 5,000 copies in the last eleven days.
The book is the hottest item on sale in bookshops across the country and is selling like wildfire. A second edition is presently being published.
The book is available in twenty countries and American filmmakers have approached Dorit Rabinyan to purchase film rights for a movie based on her novel. An English translation will be available this year.
Censorship is a dangerous thing in a country which proclaims its democracy and which promotes freedom of expression for its eight million citizens.
Reading a novel about murder and decapitation of bodies does not turn young readers into monsters or murderers. And a novel, warm and tender, about the genuine love between a Jewish woman and an Arab man will not persuade or encourage Israeli youth to intermarry.
There is no logical explanation or reason for the Ministry of Education’s censorship of the book for high school students. The author, Dorit Rabinyan, is one of Israel’s finest authors and is the winner of the prestigious Bernstein Literary Prize in 2015.
The censoring of a book only makes it more desireable to read and the sales of “Borderline” have exceeded all expectations.
I must hasten to Steimatzky to get my copy before the shelves are emptied. Down with censorship in a free democracy. Up with excellent creative literature.
“Borderline” is in line for a national prize, if not in Israel then in a more sane society elsewhere.