Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV station recently condemned the distribution of a textbook in a Lebanese English-language school because it contained excerpts from The Diary of Anne Frank.
Though the book - which chronicles the experiences of the young Frank as she hid from the Nazis between 1942 and 1944 - has been sold in Lebanon for years in both English and Arabic translations, Al-Manar claimed that the distribution of the book violated Lebanese law, which bans the import of Israeli goods and cooperation with Israeli institutions.
On its Web site, Al-Manar reported the book as "focus[ing] on the persecution of Jews during the war, but even more dangerous is the theatrical and dramatic method employed to narrate the diary [entries] in an emotional way."
Naeem Qal'ani, a lawyer for the Hizbullah-backed Committee for the Boycott of Zionist Goods, also commented to the station on the school's use of the book.
"This act is definitely punishable under the penal code, and the dealers and importers of the book will certainly be prosecuted," Qal'ani told Al-Manar. "It's a flagrant violation of the law and is a move towards normalization [with Israel]. The Prosecutor-General's Office must take action immediately, for this is a criminal act."
The school, which asked not to be identified, removed the textbook from its curriculum soon after Al-Manar's report.
Qal'ani's comments were reported on the Web site of Project Aladdin - a UNESCO-funded initiative aimed at countering Holocaust denial and promoting dialogue between Muslims and Jews - which later issued a statement "condem[ning] this campaign of vilification and intimidation by Hizbullah's TV."
The Paris-based project later reported that Omar Nashabe, an editor at the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, questioned whether The Diary of Anne Frank was indeed an Israeli product, calling Al-Manar and Qal'ani's demands "baseless."
"The law [banning Israeli goods] talks about the State of Israel: the Israeli flag, Israeli institutions, the Israeli entity, as a nation," Nashabe said. "Anne Frank is not Israeli. Anne Frank is part of world literature."
The American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants, a New York-based umbrella organization, released a statement "denounc[ing] this disgraceful act as a twin blow against decency. It is a blatant expression of Holocaust denial, and an assault on one of the great works of modern literature and civilization."
But neither the condemnations, nor Nashabe's comments, have led to the reinstatement of the book into the curriculum.
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