by Eileen F. Toplansky
The denial of Israel's right to exist by erasing it from maps is a regular component of Palestinian children's schoolbooks. In September 2011 the official PA map of "Palestine" featured the PA areas and all of Israel (excluding the Golan Heights) wrapped in the Palestinian flag.
In 2009 the British airline, BMI "removed Israel from the electronic maps displayed to passengers in some of its planes." This was done to avoid offending Muslim passengers. Israel "does not appear in maps on BMI flights between London and Tel Aviv, and Khefa, the pre-independence Arabic name for Haifa, appears on the maps." A spokesman explained that BMI makes "every effort to take passengers' sensitivities into account through an apolitical policy."
In November 2012, activists with links to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas came together for an American Muslims for Palestine's (AMP) Conference for Palestine in the U.S.: A Movement United. The AMP "home page depicts the conference logo-a map of Palestine made from birds showing the Palestinian state encompassing all of Israel."
Also in November 2012, Flickr, a social photo hosting service, "decided to remove the maps of Israel from its site." Flickr was contacted to determine whether this was a technical glitch, but it was discovered that Flickr map services are actually powered by Nokia Maps which "also has Israel as completely blank." In response to requests about the deletion of Israel as well as Cyprus, the following statement was made
Nokia Australia has responded to CNET Australia's request for comment with the following statements in regards to mapping data in Israel and Cyprus.
Nokia has the world's largest maps and navigation platform, with voice-guided navigation for around 100 countries worldwide and maps available for over 190 countries and regions. As per Nokia's long-standing policy, we are committed to neutrality and impartiality with regards to political issues. While we currently do not offer maps for Cyprus, we work hard on refining and improving Nokia Maps continuously and make maps available in as many countries and regions as possible. Because of these efforts we are confident that we will be able to offer maps for Cyprus in the coming months.
....In order to guarantee our users the best experience when using Nokia Maps we aim for the highest possible quality standards when offering our service. Based on the available map data, we work hard on refining and improving Nokia Maps continuously and make maps available in as many countries and regions as possible. Because of these efforts we are confident that we will be able to offer maps for Israel in the coming months.
The latest example of texts wiping Israel off the map has occurred in Great Britain. Samuel Westrop asks "[w]hy is the British Council, sponsored by the British Foreign Office, endorsing a textbook that wipes Israel off the map and indoctrinates students with anti-Western material?" Instead of showing Israel in the textbook entitled Skills in English Writing, a map of Occupied Palestine is in its place. The book is published by Garnet Education.
In fact, "Garnet Education is controlled by a Lebanese media empire owned by pro-Syrian Arab nationalist Tahseen Khayat, whose daughter runs the UK subsidiary companies, including Garnet Education." In addition, the firm owns Ithaca Press, and firms named All Prints and The International Press. Ithaca has published Through Secret Channels written by Holocaust denier, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Garnet Education issued an apology for its map depicting Israel as "Occupied Palestine" claiming it was a "genuine mistake and in no way reflects any Garnet Education policy."
Of course, using textbooks as propaganda is nothing new. Hitler filled the minds of German youth with vile depictions of Jews in textbooks. And so it continues.
In 2007 it was discovered that the "King Fahd Academy school in London was using textbooks encouraged by the Saudi Ministry for Education." These texts describe Jews as "apes" and Christians as "pigs."
In fact, Dr. Sumaya Alyusuf, the school principal, confirmed that she "recognise[d] these books" and claimed that "these books have good chapters that can be used by our teachers." She further insisted that the "books should not be scrapped," saying that allegedly racist sections had been 'misinterpreted.'"
Soeren Kern highlighted a 2010 expose of Saudi-run Muslim schools in Britain that aired on the prestigious Panorama documentary television program showing that "Muslim religious schools operating in Britain are using poisonously antisemitic textbooks from Saudi Arabia." One textbook "asks children to spell out the 'reprehensible' qualities of Jews."
And then we have Guardian columnist Jonathan Steele who complains how "Iran's president was badly misquoted when he allegedly called for Israel to be 'wiped off the map.'" Steele maintains that what Mahmoud Ahmadinejad really said was that "the regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time." Steele credits Juan Cole with this translation.
It should be remembered that Juan Cole has been described as
blindly anti-Israel to the point of being an anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist, an apologist for radical Islam, and someone who despises American public opinion. Cole has supported the Israel divestment campaign by numerous American colleges, on grounds that Arabs are 'mistreated' by Israel.
There is a tendency among academics to feel they have to advocate for those countries they study. They should not. Nor should they advocate for the U.S. government. They should analyze dispassionately. But, ignoring or burying evidence that reflects badly on a regime is more likely to advance misunderstanding than advance rapprochement. It is time academics and policymakers both deal with reality as it is, rather than a sanitized version they would wish it to be.
Maps count; words count; and intentions are not to be ignored.
Eileen F. Toplansky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.