Ha’aretz reported a few days ago on a controversy over Israel’s Education Ministry declining to put a certain book on the high school curriculum. The book in question, translated in English as “Borderlife,” is a story about a romance between an Israeli Jew and a Palestinian Arab Muslim. It also apparently includes extremely negative portrayals of the IDF. Ha’aretz’s story was picked up by:
- The Associated Press
- The Guardian
- The Irish Times
- Daily Mail
- France 24
- Deutsche Welle
- Middle East Eye
- (update) BBC
- and . . . wait for it . . . Storm Front. Oh wait and . . . David Icke. No links for those two. Google them at your own peril.
Most of those outlets repeated Ha’aretz’s slur that the book had been banned. In fact, the book has not actually been “banned,” rather, a decision was made not to include it on the high school curriculum. (We don’t often give AP credit around here, but in this case AP does deserve credit for making that distinction.)
Anyone in Israel can still buy the book for themselves or for their high-school-age child. So it’s not even immediately clear to me why this is newsworthy at all. But, whether you agree or disagree with that decision, it’s informative to compare this incident to another case, in which a book was actually banned, from an entire country.
A government ban of a fictional book set in Qatar has raised new questions about importing published materials here, and what’s permissible under the country’s opaque censorship rules.
Long-time resident Mohana Rajakumar was recently told by her distributor that her latest book, Love Comes Later – a fictional story about contemporary Qataris with traditional values who are working to satisfy their personal and social requirements – had been rejected by the Ministry of Culture for sale in book stores.
Rajakumar – a published author as well as an assistant English professor who has lived in Qatar for nine years – said the government has not said why her book was banned.
How many of the above publications reported on the Qatar book ban? As far as I can tell, not a single one. The Qatari book ban got one line in a very lengthy Washington Post article about American universities in Qatar, as well as coverage by the Roanoke Times.
Once again, we see Ha’aretz reporters slandering their own country, and news outlets around the world devouring it.