The copyright of Hitler’s Mein Kampf has terminated, and there is a tremendous amount of discussion in the IP blogosphere about whether the book should be republished. In fact it has never been difficult to get hold of. Amazon stock it.
Coincidentally, the Israel Minister of Education has attempted to drop Dorit Rabinyan’s book Borderlife from the Hebrew Literature matriculation reading list. The book is apparently a love story that chronicles the relationship between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man.
The ministry said that the book was removed from the list of reading material for students studying for their matriculation exams in order to preserve “the identity and the legacy of students from all sectors.”
According to Dalia Fenig, who headed the ministry committee that decides which literary works are on the curriculum,“The book could incite hatred and cause emotional storms (in the classroom).”
After a report of the book ban was published in Haaretz, the move was criticized by politicians as censorship by the Education Ministry.
I have read bits of Mein Kampf but have not read Borderlife. The juxtaposition is due to both works being discussed. I am not drawing any parallels.
I think that books should be available and am generally against censorship. I think that in addition to the value of a piece of literature in terms of the vocabulary, syntax and grammar, worthwhile literature should challenge accepted social norms and encourage the reader to think.
The great 19th century English authors challenged social conventions and it is for precisely that reason that they have lasting value.
Issues of race and relationships come up in many great works of literature, including Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, for example.
I wonder how many people slamming Bennett’s attempt to drop this book from the curriculum (which is very different from banning it), would have a problem with Jabotinsky’s Samson from being included in the curriculum? I think this is one of the great works of early Israeli literature, but the left wing intelligentsia ignore it since it’s overall message is nationalistic and Jabotinsky was a liberal nationalist, and not a socialist.
I think the main purpose of high school literature lessons is to introduce the students to a range of literary styles and genres. I don’t know if Ms Fenig is correct that the book could ‘incite hatred and cause emotional storms’. If so, it is probably not the best text for classroom use. If literature experts consider the book as of a suitable literary level, why not allow teachers to decide whether or not to teach it? They should know whether or not their students are mature enough for the book.
If not aged 17, when?