Eban Says Israel Has Banned Some 2,000 Books on the West Bank

Labor MK Abba Eban has called on Defense Minister Ariel Sharon to make available to the Knesset a list of some 2,000 books banned on the West Bank. Eban said the books include George Orwell’s “1984,” Alan Moorehead’s famous accounts of the search for the sources of the Nile, and “Song of the Wind,” written 50 years ago by a leading Egyptian author, Tawfik el-Hakim.

Eban wanted to know why a book dealer in Nablus could be prosecuted for selling books that are freely available in Arabic translation in East Jerusalem. He said the ban was ridiculous inasmuch as many of the books are classics which could hardly be considered politically dangerous. According to the Jerusalem Post, Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice” in Arabic is also on the proscribed list.

Eban submitted his question in writing. It will be answered by the Defense Minister at a later date. The former Foreign Minister urged the government to see to it that all books of cultural and literary interest available in Israel and elsewhere in the free world are also available in the occupied territories.

In a related move, Eban wrote to Eliahu Ben-Elissor, chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, proposing that it create a special subcommittee to oversee government activities in the territories. He said these activities should be closely watched and subject to Knesset scrutiny but there is no parliamentary body at present for such a task.

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