Israel has refused to include a novel about a love affair between a Jewish woman and a Palestinian man in the country's high-school curriculum, reportedly over concerns that it could encourage intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews. The rejection of Borderlife, a novel published last year, created an uproar in Israel, with critics accusing the government of censorship. The rejection also touched on the climate of mistrust between Arabs and Jews, which has deepened during the current wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence. The ministry told the AP that a panel had debated adding Borderlife to the high-school reading curriculum but decided against it. Israeli media said teachers had requested its inclusion on the student reading lists.
Earlier, the Haaretz daily cited a letter by ministry official Dalia Fenig, who wrote that the book, which this year received Israel's prestigious Bernstein literary prize, was excluded because its content was deemed unfit for high school students. "Adolescent youth tend to romanticize and don't have, in many cases, the systematic point of view that includes considerations about preserving the identity of the nation and the significance of assimilation," Fenig was quoted. She also said the timing, coinciding with the current outburst of violence, was not right, fearing tensions could be enflamed in classrooms over the book. More than three months of Israeli-Palestinian violence has killed 21 Israelis and 131 Palestinians, sending tensions between Arabs and Jews soaring.