All the Rivers is a love story—a love story that was not welcome in Israeli high school curricula.

In the international best-seller (originally titled Borderlife in Hebrew), characters Liat and Hilmi fall quickly in love. But there’s one problem: Liat is Israeli and Hilmi is Palestinian.

Set in New York City in 2003 and told mainly from Liat’s point of view, All the Rivers takes the Israeli and Palestinian conflict to a more intimate level.

“[Liat] takes [Hilmi] out of the multitude and acknowledges his humanity, her humanity,” author Dorit Rabinyan said. “He’s not the Palestinian people. He’s one person.”

Israel’s Ministry of Education believes the book “could do more harm than good.” According to an education ministry official, the book romanticizes relationships between Jews and non-Jews and doesn’t account for the “significance of assimilation.” On the heels of this news, education minister Naftali Bennet claimed on Israeli TV that All the Rivers described Israeli soldiers as war criminals.

(He also admitted he had not read the book.)

Once the Ministry of Education weighed in, the book’s popularity surged—and so did public backlash against its author.

“If I had imagined this maelstrom of persecution, this loneliness, I would have been too frightened to write,” Rabinyan, wrote in Time in April.

Hear more about Dorit Rabinyan’s stories—her best-selling story of star-crossed lovers as well as her experience being in the center of a scandal— on October 23 at Congregation Darchei Noam.

This event is co-sponsored by The Israel Center of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation, Congregation Darchei Noam, and the Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest.

 

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