Israel removed from Middle East atlas
Publishing giant HarperCollins has egg all over its face after it developed an atlas ‘specifically for schools in the Middle East’ that omits Israel in deference to Muslim sensitivities.
According to this report, the publisher trumpeted the work as providing students:
An in-depth coverage of the region and its issues.
Its stated goals include helping Middle-Eastern kids understand:
The relationship between the social and physical environment, the region’s challenges [and] its socio-economic development.
There’s Syria. There’s Jordan. There’s Gaza. But no mention of Israel.
On Wednesday, HarperCollins was backtracking fast.
HarperCollins UK said on its Facebook page:
HarperCollins regrets the omission of the name Israel from their Collins Middle East Atlas. This product has now been removed from sale in all territories and all remaining stock will be pulped. HarperCollins sincerely apologizes for this omission and for any offense it caused.
It apparently caused quite a bit. On Amazon, the atlas has 39 reviews. Every reviewer gave it one star.
It’s incredibly sad and sickening how one of the world’s largest publishers has failed to recognize Israel … it’s a travesty and international shame. Failing to recognize its existence is horrifying and it’s a shame that in 2014, such nonsense still goes on.
How did this happen? Collins Bartholomew, a subsidiary of HarperCollins that specialses in maps it would have been “unacceptable” to include Israel in atlases intended for the Middle East. They had deleted Israel to satisfy “local preferences”.
Nobody can quite seem to grasp quite what HarperCollins was thinking. A British bishop named Declan Lang said:
The publication of this atlas will confirm Israel’s belief that there exists hostility toward their country from parts of the Arab world. It will not help to build up a spirit of trust leading to peaceful co-existence.
Speaking to the Catholic newspaper, The Tablet, Dr Jane Clements, director of the Council of Christians and Jews said that maps that excluded Israel risked causing confusion and de-legitimising the nation in the eyes of the students who used the atlases.
Maps can be a very powerful tool in terms of de-legitimising ‘the other’ and can lead to confusion rather than clarity. We would be keen to see relevant bodies ensure that all atlases anywhere reflect the official UN position on nations, boundaries and all political features.
Others were less diplomatic. Another reviewer said.
What a piece of inaccurate garbage!