See Appended Jan. 4 Update About Times of Israel Correction
Headlines about Israel’s Education Ministry “banning” a book have dominated the English edition of Haaretz since Thursday, including on the paper’s front-page.
Today’s page-one headline is “AG to probe ministry decision to ban ‘Borderlife’ book”:
A headline about the “book ban” was the most prominent item on the front-page of Friday’s weekend paper, published before the shooting attack in Tel Aviv Friday afternoon (“Protests of book ban take off, Bennett digs in”).
Thursday, Dec. 31, was the first of the three consecutive days in which the alleged book “ban” occupied prominent real estate on the paper’s front page:
Other headlines, on the inside pages and online, repeat the claim that the Education Ministry had “banned” Borderlife, a novel by Dalia Rabinyan about a romance between a Jewish Israeli woman and a Palestinian man. They include: “Bennett Backs School Ban on Novel About Jewish-Arab Love Affair,” Dec. 31); “Herzog Blasts Education Ministry for Banning Arab-Jewish Love Story From Schools” (Dec. 31) and in print (Jan. 1) “Herzog blasts Education Ministry for banning Arab-Jewish love story in school”; “Principals, Teachers Decry Banning of Arab-Jewish Love Story From Schools,” (Dec. 31); “Israel Bans Novel on Arab-Jewish Romance From Schools for ‘Threatening Jewish Identity’ ” (Dec. 31); (“What becomes of a place where books are banned,” print, Jan. 1, with an online version here); and more.
Despite the impressive number of headlines about the book “ban,” in fact, there is no ban. As Sharon Pulwer’s front page article accurately reports today: “Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein plans to investigate the Education Ministry’s decision to exclude Dorit Rabinyan’s novel ‘Borderlife” from the high-school literature curriculum.”
In other words, the Education Ministry opted not to include the book in a high school curriculum, overruling an earlier decision from the ministry’s professional advisory committee to include it. But deciding to exclude a book from a curriculum is hardly tantamount to a “ban.”
Indeed, Haaretz‘s Hebrew edition, in its extensive coverage, did not use language suggesting a “ban.” The Hebrew edition does not use the word “ban” (“cherem” or “eesur“). The Hebrew edition’s accurate language is “disqualification,” “psilah.”
For instance, while today’s erroneous front-page headline in English is: “AG to probe ministry decision to ban ‘Borderlife’ book” the Hebrew edition’s headline for the same story (story on page 3, as opposed to the front-page), uses the accurate language of “psilah,” disqualification or exclusion. It states: “Weinstein will check the disqualification of ‘Borderlife’; High school students circulate a petition against the new civics textbook.”
Unfortunately, the mistranslation is not limited only to headlines. Today’s editorial, in the English edition, also uses the erroneous language: “Even though the broad public criticism of the ban had to do with the reasons given for it. . . .” Again, the editorial, in the original Hebrew, does not use this erroneous language.
In a second mistranslation, some of the English articles wrongly claim that the Education Ministry cited fears of “miscegenation.” For instance, “Israel Bans [sic] Novel on Arab-Jewish Romance . . . ” falsely states:
The Education Ministry also expressed concern that “young people of adolescent age don’t have the systemic view that includes considerations involving maintaining the national-ethnic identity of the people and the significance of miscegenation.”
As Oren Kessler pointed out, the Education Ministry did not cite “miscegenation.” It cited assimilation, “hitbolelut.” The Hebrew version of the same article accurately reported the Ministry’s language.
CAMERA has contacted Haaretz editors. Stay tuned for an update.
Jan. 4 Update: Times of Israel Corrects, Haaretz Still Hasn’t
Times of Israel also published a headline today incorrectly referring to a “ban” of Rabinyan’s novel (“Attorney general to probe Education Ministry’s book ban”).
Following communication from CAMERA’s Israel office, Times of Israel editors immediately corrected. The headline now accurately states: “Attorney general to probe Education Ministry’s book blackball.”
Meanwhile, Haaretz has yet to correct.