Publisher sets off firestorm after omitting Israel from school atlases ‘to meet local preferences’
A subsidiary of publisher HarperCollins is taking heat for publishing a school atlas which completely eliminates the state of Israel from a map of the Middle East, The Tablet is reporting.
The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has accused publisher HarperCollins of damaging peace efforts in the Middle East by allowing production of atlases omitting Israel, instead showing Jordan and Syria extending all the way to the Mediterranean Sea.
A representative for Collins Bartholomew, a subsidiary of HarperCollins that specializes in maps, explained that including Israel would have been “unacceptable” to their customers in the Gulf and the omission was in line with “local preferences”.
Collins Middle East Atlases are sold to English-speaking schools in the Muslim-majority Gulf.
Bishop Declan Lang, chairman of the Bishops’ Conference Department of International Affairs, explained that atlases are unhelpful in decreasing tensions in the volatile region.
“The publication of this atlas will confirm Israel’s belief that there exists a hostility towards their country from parts of the Arab world,” the bishop explained.” It will not help to build up a spirit of trust leading to peaceful co-existence.”
According to The Tablet, customs agents in one gulf nation only allow atlases containing Israel to cross its borders after the country is marked out by hand.