Reprinted from Gush Shalom
But this was not a revolutionary work by a fire-eating rebel. It is a gentle novel by an appreciated female author, Dorit Rabinyan.
Her cardinal sin was the plot: a love story between a Jewish girl and an Arab boy. They meet on American soil.
The Ministry shuddered. What? A kosher daughter of Israel with an Arab Goy? Unthinkable. Like a love story between a white woman and a black man in the Atlanta of Gone with the Wind. Or between a Jewess and a pure Aryan in Hitler's Germany.
Shocking. Good that the wise men of the ministry stopped it in the nick of time.
THE DECISION caused an uproar. Liberal teachers and commentators had a field day. Especially those who have a sense of humor. (Yes, there are some of these even in Israel.)
Several of them demanded a ban on the Bible, since it is full of kings and heroes who married foreign women. Abraham took a foreign woman, Hagar, had a boy with her and sent both to die in the desert, because Sarah, the mother of the Jewish people, was jealous. The Bible depicts our foremother as a rather obnoxious shrew.
Moses had a Midianite wife. King David married the woman he lusted for, after sending her Hittite husband to die in battle. His son, Solomon, had a lot of wives, most of them foreigners. The hero Samson was betrayed by his Philistine wife. King Ahab, who bled to death because he refused to receive medical treatment during battle, had a wife from Sidon. And so on. A very long list. Some educators gleefully demanded the removal of the Bible from the ministry's list.
Almost as bad, some of the masterpieces of modern Hebrew literature figure love stories between Jewish men and Shikses (a derogatory Yiddish term for non-Jewish women, originating from the Hebrew word for "abomination"). Out with them!
However, what struck me most about the affair was one word in the ministry's official explanation for the measure: "hitboleluth," meaning assimilation.
The book was accused of leading its readers, especially young ones at an impressionable age, towards assimilation.
ASSIMILATION? HERE? In Israel? In an official government statement?
"Assimilation" is a word widely used in the Jewish Diaspora. It is highly derogatory. It is the act of a Jew who is ashamed of his heritage and tries to lose himself in the surrounding Christian environment. A Jew who apes the Goyim, and tries to look and behave like one of them. In short, a despicable coward.
To call a Jew in Los Angeles or Moscow "assimilated" is a serious accusation. For many centuries, it has been one of the most damning labels.