Petition to include Dorit Rabinyan’s book in the curriculum


Following the decision to disqualify the book “Gader Haya” (translated as “Borderlife” in English) from the high school literature curriculum, ACRI petitioned the Deputy Attorney General and Acting Chairman of the Ministry of Education’s Pedagogical Board to reverse the decision.


ACRI Attorney Tal Hassin argued that the disqualification of the book was motivated by irrelevant and anti-educational considerations. The decision contradicts the goals of state education; imposes political censorship on literature and art and blatantly interferes in the Committee’s considerations; disregards the ability of teachers and students to discuss complex and controversial issues; and conveys an extremely problematic message for artists, educators and students.


Attorney Hassin’s letter addresses the prohibition on removing the book from the curriculum based on fear that encouraging romantic relationships between Jews and Arabs will lead to assimilation; saying “These considerations are guided by a very specific world view, that love, sex and coexistence between Arabs and Jews are unacceptable. This has no connection to the professional and educational considerations which underlie the choices behind the literature curriculum.” Hassin wrote that this decision relates to senior students – young men and women who are familiar with complex realities – they cope daily with the Jewish-Palestinian conflict, with military conscription, with trips to Hebron and trips to Auschwitz in accordance with the Ministry of Education.


Hassin added that the disqualification of the book has the added initiative of censoring content and artwork, which has been advanced by the recent and current government. Examples of this include the biased editing of the citizenship textbook; disqualifying the show “A Parallel Time” from the Ministry of Education’s repertoire; and the Minister of Culture and Sport’s initiative to deny the Tel Aviv Cinematheque funding with respect to the Nakba Film Festival. “This policy seriously violates an individual’s freedom of thought, not only for high school students but for society as a whole. Time and time again the authorities convey a message that there are works that are appropriate and legitimate, and others that are not; that there are acceptable realities (in which Jews and Arabs do not fall in love and the Nakba disappears) and that there unacceptable realities. This sends the message that there is only one truth, and no right to difference, complexity, controversy or stimulating discussion,” wrote Hasssin.


The letter claims that the rejection of the book sends a censored and even threatening message to teachers and artists: “the former will not dare to engage with issues relating to conflict in class, and the latter will not deal with controversial issues in their work, if they want to be included in the Ministry of Education’s curriculum which directs the education of future generations. This amounts to a serious violation of artistic freedom and the freedom of expression. After all, Rabinyan’s book is a novel, a work of fiction, a representation of life and not life itself; which has been forgotten in the debate following the banning of the book from the school curriculum.”


To read the letter (in Hebrew) please click here.

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Categories: Freedom of Expression

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