Where is Israel?

Harper Collins' "special" map.

Harper Collins’ “special” map.

Harper Collins is getting some deserved flak for omitting Israel from its world atlas specifically designed for Middle Eastern markets. (source) The map simply omits Israel, as if it does not exist.

Collins Bartholomew, the subsidiary of HarperCollins that specialises in maps, had told The Tablet that including Israel in the Middle East Atlas would have been “unacceptable” to its customers in the Gulf and that the amendment incorporated “local preferences”. (source)

After international pressure, Harper Collins withdrew the book and is “pulping” the entire edition.

As it should.

I don’t care how anyone feels about Israel. You’re allowed to love, hate, or meh Israel as you choose. But, using textbooks to try and pre-program kids into your pre-existing political position – by actually changing the facts? Wrong. Doing so to bow to political pressure? Dead wrong.

I understand that capitalism requires you to bend your product to the local market conditions – and if the Abu Dhabi board of education (or whatever the hell they call it) wants Israel omitted from your maps, you might have to make a choice between supplying them with books or sticking to your ideals. Lord knows I’ve bent what I thought was right to make a buck from time to time (ask me about the “Buddy The Dog” case one day).

Nevertheless, shame on Harper Collins for not telling these “local preferences” to shove it. More than that, shame on the local “educators” for having such policies in the first place. And, before we get too high and mighty, lets remember that for most of recent history, Texas did the same damn thing. (source)

One commentator made a good statement about the map.

The Map of Israel that my son's school uses.

The Map of Israel that my son’s school uses.

Bishop Declan Lang, chairman of the Bishops’ Conference Department of International Affairs, told The Tablet: “The publication of this atlas will confirm Israel’s belief that there exists a hostility towards their country from parts of the Arab world. It will not help to build up a spirit of trust leading to peaceful co-existence.” (source)

That may be true. But if you look to the right, that’s the map of Israel that my son’s school uses. So… while Harper Collins needs a smack upside the head, perhaps there is a lesson that ought to be taught a little more universally. I really do not see any difference between what Harper Collins did, and what the suppliers to my kid’s school did. They both traded reality and facts for a political view, that someone wants to indoctrinate children to believe.

That is not cool. No matter who does it.

4 Responses to Where is Israel?

  1. Funny. As I read, my mental checklist went first to the government pinheads miseducating the youths of Texas and then to the extremist settlers who yammer about “greater Judea and Samaria.” Led me to this question: Which is worse: deliberately dissemintating misinformation as part of governance or the attempt to govern or doing so for profit? Not sure I know the answer….

    • I guess I can forgive it a teeny tiny bit if its just about doing so for profit. But still, doesn’t a publisher of educational textbooks have an ethical obligation to decline to “educate” people with misinformation?

  2. This reminds me of LA city councilman Tom LaBonge’s (successful-ish) attempt to get Google maps and Garmin to hide the location of the Hollywood Sign from people because of pressure from wealthy residents of the neighborhood. I know it’s trivial compared with this elision of Israel, but it’s such a bad precedent to use (admittedly informal) government power to convince companies to mislead their customers like this.

  3. Tom Stone says:

    If Harper Collins waits a hundred years ( Or less) those maps might reflect reality. Demographics and water do not bode well for Israel’s future.

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