Few months ago, in December 2015, the Israeli Ministry of Education took a radical decision looking like the preamble of a new inspired Fahrenheit 451 novel. The minister, Naftali Bennet, decided in fact to ban the novel by Dorit Rabiyan – Borderlife the title in English – from being used in the curriculum of Hebrew high schools. The book was recommended for use in advanced literature classes by a committee of academics and educators of the University of Haifaa, since it showed all the complexity of life in Israel. But what is the shameful plot of this novel, creating so much confusion and debate within the Israeli society? Borderlife is nothing but the story of an Israeli woman who falls in love with a Palestinian born in the West Bank city of Hebron, after a chance encounter in New York. It’s worth to underline that, if these two characters were real and they got married, according to the Israeli Citizenship and Entry Law they could not go to live in Israel but in the West Bank only, “on the basis with the security legislation in the area”1.
In another context, this novel would has been nothing but a book: audience can like it or not, can decide to buy it or not. But in Israel it assumed a political content, strong enough to be fought and banned because risky. The Israeli young can start seeing the Palestinians as human being to eventually fall in love with, and not only beastly enemies.
In response to this decision taken by the Ministry of Education, aimed – according to Bennett’s words – to keep the students’ cultural identity and heritage safe in every lives’ sector, the Tel Aviv magazine called TimeOut organized a particular form of protest: six young couples kissing for the first time. The couples – heterosexual or gay – were composed by one Palestinian and one Israeli, meeting for the first time or already friends.
The project, inspired to Tatia Pilieva’s work First Kiss of 2014, wanted to be a clear stance on continuous official political positions, using any chance to show its racism and oppression policy.
It is evident that the Israeli- Palestinian conflict is not something solvable only through such projects, but at the same time we need to re-consider the importance of the images and of the message they show, especially when they touch so human feelings to be easily understood by the most. Resistance is also made by human relationships, by intercultural friendship and love, overcoming national either religious belongings. At the end of the day, we all have the same roots, we recognize ourselves into the other men and women, and this concept expressed in the as easy as wonderful word “empathy” scares the power puppet masters since it is at the basis of every form of resistance. This is what they always try to avoid, for instance by banning a novel. That, only to be clear, the Israeli Ministry of Education declared he didn’t even read.