Book ban protest sealed with a kiss in Israel

January 9, 2016 1:00 pm

 

The clip shows Israelis and Palestinians kissing each other. Photo / Supplied via youtube video.

How have Tel Aviv’s young liberals responded to a decision by
Israel’s conservative, right-wing Education Minister to ban a novel
about forbidden love between an Israeli Jew and a Palestinian Muslim?
They’ve made a video of Israelis and Palestinians kissing each other.
Published online on Thursday by the magazine Time Out Tel Aviv,
the video shows six young couples – male, female, straight and gay –
kissing for the first time. Some of the pairs were already friends, and
others had never met before. (It’s a take on the Tatia Pilieva project
First Kiss.)
The provocative clip comes a week after it was revealed that Israel’s Education Ministry had disqualified Dorit Rabinyan’s book Borderline from a list of recommended reading for an advanced high school literature course.
Yet to be released in English, Borderline is the story of an Israeli Jewish woman and a Palestinian Muslim man who meet in New York, fall in love and then part ways.

She returns to Tel Aviv and he to Ramallah.
The
Education Ministry said it banned the book from its literature list to
maintain the “identity and heritage of students in every sector”.
Ministry
officials were worried that the “intimate relations between Jews and
non-Jews threatens the separate identity”, reported Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which broke the story.
Some of Israel’s more liberal lawmakers called it racist and a gross attempt at censorship.
“Censorship started long ago. Now it aims to preserve the purity of blood,” wrote Knesset member Tamar Zandberg on Twitter.
Some
high school teachers said they would use the book in class regardless,
and bookstores countrywide reported a sudden increase in sales of Borderline.
Education
Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home
party, responded that he strongly supported the ban mostly because the
book criticises Israeli soldiers, presenting them as war criminals.
But, in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 ,
Bennett said: “Do we really need a book that talks about the romance
between a Palestinian prisoner and a Jewish woman?” Bennett admitted
that he had not yet read the book.
Nof Nathanson, deputy editor of Time Out Tel Aviv,
explained the decision to make the video: “When the story came out last
Thursday we were already working on another big project. But during our
editorial meeting this week we decided that we needed to take action
against this decision. We immediately started working on the video.”
Nathanson said the video had already gone viral.
So far, he said, it had received mixed reviews, with positive comments on Time Out Tel Aviv‘s Facebook page and some expressing shock at confronting such a taboo subject in this way.

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