When hobbits and ‘Hamlet’ were censored in Israeli prisons


This week is national Banned Books Week. Books such as "Harry Potter" and "Heather Has Two Mommies" — deemed objectionable for promoting witchcraft and the homosexual agenda, respectively — are subversively given a second wind by select libraries, bookstores (if they still exist) and other paperback-pushers.

Proponents of free book access may be dismayed to learn that in 1989, Israeli prisons were among the institutions to restrict access to some popular titles:


 "Hamlet," Israel Law Book Confiscated from Palestinian Security Prisoners (Published Oct. 17, 1989)

By Cathrine Gerson

JERUSALEM, Oct. 16 (JTA) –

"Hamlet" is unsuitable reading matter for Palestinian security prisoners at the Ketziot detention camp in the Negev, according to the military censors.

So is "The Constitutional Law of the State of Israel," written by a distinguished jurist and Knesset member, Amnon Rubinstein.

They are among the books sent to prisoners which have been confiscated, Hadashot reported Monday. Others include "The Cancer Ward," by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and "Lord of the Rings," by J.R.R. Tolkien. However, a book of Picasso’s paintings was deemed acceptable.

Books could be banned if they incite to violence or might be deemed subversive. In Hamlet’s most famous soliloquy, "To be or not to be," he ponders whether to take up arms or suffer in silence.

Image: Quinn Dombrowski, May 3, 2011 (cc-by-sa 2.0)

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