One of the world’s biggest publishing houses, HarperCollins, has published a map used by children in the Middle East that omits the entire nation of Israel.
According to the Tablet, an atlas distributed in English-speaking schools within the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East fails to label Israel. The West Bank is labelled clearly next to Gaza but Israel is nowhere to be found. Because of this strange decision, the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has accused HarperCollins of incidentally damaging the movements of peace in the Middle East.
HarperCollins defended its choice to leave Israel off the Middle East maps by claiming they amended the maps to fit “local preferences.” In fact, HarperCollins claimed it would have been “unacceptable” to leave Israel on a map used by residents of the Gulf in the Middle East.
“The publication of this atlas will confirm Israel’s belief that there exists a hostility towards their country from parts of the Arab world,” said Bishop Declan Lang, the chairman of the Bishops’ Conference Department of International Affairs. “It will not help to build up a spirit of trust leading to peaceful co-existence.”
The Tablet also reported that some atlases in the Middle East are only distributed to local schools after Israel has been deliberately crossed off by hand.
According to Business Insider, the director of the Council of Christians and Jews, Dr. Jane Clements, director of the Council of Christians and Jews, explained that these maps which exclude Israel from the Middle East only add to the confusion and conflict of the area and serve to de-legitimize the nation of Israel for impressionable children. While that may be the intention of HarperCollins and certain residents of the Middle East, crossing Israel off the map does little to erase the nation from the Middle East.
“Maps can be a very powerful tool in terms of de-legitimizing ‘the other’ and can lead to confusion rather than clarity,” said Clements. “We would be keen to see relevant bodies ensure that all atlases anywhere reflect the official United Nations position on nations, boundaries and all political features.”
After the backlash over the maps, HarperCollins admitted they regret leaving Israel off the maps of the Middle East. According to RT, the statement read,“HarperCollins regrets the omission of the name Israel from their Collins Middle East Atlas.” The atlas has since been removed from sale in the Middle East.
What do you think of HarperCollins decision to omit Israel from the maps of the Middle East? If you lived in the Middle East, would you expect all territories to be labelled clearly?