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January 5, 2015 8:31 am

If Pictures Are Worth a Thousand Words, How About Maps?

avatar by Stephen M. Flatow /

Email a copy of "If Pictures Are Worth a Thousand Words, How About Maps?" to a friend

The HarperCollins map. Photo: HarperCollins.

JNS.orgA major book publisher, deluged with criticism for leaving Israel off a map in its Middle East Atlas, has apologized and withdrawn the book from circulation. You don’t have to know the name of the publisher to know one thing for certain: it’s not the Palestinian Authority’s publishing division. Because if it were, there would be no outcry, no apology, no withdrawal.

Why is there such a double standard?

Before answering that question, let’s acknowledge the good news.

HarperCollins, a major American publisher, this week apologized for omitting Israel from a map in its Mideast atlas. After word of this outrageous omission leaked to the news media, a company spokesman admitted that the omission was a cynical marketing decision—Israel had been dumped in response to “local preferences” in the Gulf States.

It’s no doubt true that the preference of the governments of the Gulf States is to pretend that Israel does not exist, as a way of saying that it should not exist. Fortunately, the rest of the staff at HarperCollins knows the difference between fantasy and reality, so they are withdrawing the book from circulation until it can be corrected.

Something similar, involving another major publisher, occurred about a year ago. The Times of Israelreported that Scholastic, the publisher of children’s educational materials, left Israel off a map in one of the books in its popular “Geronimo Stilton” adventure series. This particular installment of the series involved the protagonist traveling to the Middle East, where the map showed the Kingdom of Jordan reaching all the way to the Mediterranean. Israel was nowhere to be seen. When the matter was called to the attention of Scholastic, it announced that the omission was “inadvertent” and it was “immediately stopping shipment on this title and revising the map.”

A map that was not in the news this week, but should be, has just been posted on the official Facebook page of Fatah, the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). This map, too, has no Israel. Note that Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas is chairman of both Fatah and the PLO. There’s no way to claim this is the work of some rogue group.

Jan. 1 marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of Fatah. In fact, it was at a 50th anniversary celebration that Abbas made his controversial announcement that the PA is joining the International Criminal Court. That part of the story received plenty of attention. But not much else about the Fatah anniversary made it into the American news media.

Thanks to Palestinian Media Watch, however, we know exactly what kind of imagery Abbas’s Fatah is using to celebrate its 50th: maps that omit Israel. They have several colorful varieties. One shows all of Israel, labeled “Palestine,” with Yasser Arafat’s face superimposed on part of it. Another has “Palestine”—again, all of Israel—covered by a PLO flag, a kaffiyeh, and a large “50” that morphs into a hand flashing a V-for-Victory sign. Victory over Israel, that is. A third image shows a large hand grenade inside the “50.” Not too subtle.

These Palestine-instead-of-Israel maps are de rigueur in the territories occupied by the PA. They appear in the textbooks used in PA schools. They appear on the walls of the offices of PA officials. They appear throughout the official PA-controlled news media. They all bear the same message: the goal of a world without Israel.

I wish those who were angry at Scholastic and HarperCollins would show the same level of interest in what the PA is doing. Because while Scholastic and HarperCollins have admitted their error and withdrawn the books, the PA continues to proudly raise an entire generation of young Palestinians on the dream of eliminating Israel.

Some years ago, Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson, a former presidential speechwriter, coined the phrase “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” I wonder if that’s what we are seeing here. There seems to be an attitude—in much of the news media, in much of official Washington, and elsewhere—that Palestinian extremism and hatred are “to be expected.” I beg to differ. We have the right to expect the PA to be as reasonable and rational as an American book publisher or anybody else. And if the PA refuses to live up to that standard, then that speaks volumes about its real attitude toward Israel.

Stephen M. Flatow, a New Jersey attorney, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered by Palestinian terrorists in 1995. He is a candidate on the Religious Zionist slate ( in the World Zionist Congress elections.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • Tabitha korol

    Collins Bartholomew, the map-publishing company of world-leading publishers, Harper Collins, removed the name of Israel from its Geography Atlas to accommodate “local preferences.” In other words, in the interest of selling maps to an enemy that hopes to also wipe America off the map, the company was willing to erase Israel, as well as dispense with scruples, integrity, conscience, ethics, and credibility. Let’s take this a step further.
    I understand that Muslims cannot abide truth; thus they invented the accusation of Islamophobia – to squelch all things that reveal their essence. Islam is at war with the world and reality, and has been since the seventh century. Their culture is a dedication to war and conquest, so that even their people may not grow and prosper. From the moment their children are born, they are robbed of the human spirit – freedom, creativity, imagination – and are twisted into becoming hardhearted “weapons of mass destruction” against their perceived enemies. In the name of their god, they attempt to erase the past by destroying ancient artifacts, refuting history to support their own supersessionist narrative, and call “offensive” all actions that lay bare their true nature, barbarism.
    Above all, Islam teaches hatred of Jews, not to mention Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Zoroastrians, idol worshipers and animists. But above all, it is the Jews, because Mohammed could not convert the Jews in Mecca, so he beheaded all the Jewish men. Yet, Muslims are still tied to Judaism through Abraham – and perhaps resent it. Muslims also need the Jews to blame for their failures and adversities, and while they also claim Jewish successes and world contributions for their own, it has been said that they also feel the shame of having to do so. Why else would there be a traveling world exhibition called “101 Inventions,” for which they claim scholarship and ingenuity, but whose originality may be traced to Jews and other captives forcibly converted to Islam? Why else would they begin claiming Moses, Jesus, Christopher Columbus, and Albert Einstein as Palestinian or Muslim, even if there were no Palestinians or Muslims during the times of Moses and Jesus?
    Each defeat in wars begun by the Muslims against the Jews was yet another intolerable humiliation, particularly when five Muslim armies (Egypt, Lebanon, Transjordan, Syria, and Iraq) attacked, but were bested by, what they thought would be a defenseless, fledgling, ragtag army of starved, beaten Jewish survivors from Europe. Failing in conventional warfare, they began a psychological war with the help of the uninformed, the envious, the angry, and those who are eternally predisposed to hate for their own reasons. This war includes the influential propaganda that Jewish achievements have actually been at the expense of others and that Jews are therefore the cause of every earthly ill.
    Islamists have discovered that what they, themselves, do may readily be blamed on the Jews. Muslims have actually broadcast their plan to create an all-encompassing world Caliphate, but peddle the idea that it is the Jews who rule the world. It suits the Muslims to keep their brethren in a constant refugee status in Gaza and the West Bank in order to garner world sympathy (and cash) and to lay claim to territory illegally occupied by Jordan and Egypt, although the land is both legally and historically Jewish. Through the centuries, Muslims were never interested in working what was then a desolate wasteland, but now insist that flourishing Israel is theirs.
    In the surrounding Muslim lands, the majority continues to live in age-old poverty and ignorance under tyrannical regimes; this too is blamed on Israel. If the rainfall is inadequate and unequally distributed through the year in this sub-tropical zone, Israel is liable for not supplying water. If their women and children die as a result of being placed among jihadist rocket launchers, Israel is impugned. They accuse Israel of Palestinian genocide, when, in fact, the Palestinian population has dramatically increased, doubling in size with each new generation; and of apartheid, when the reality is that Muslims have banned Jews from Islamic countries.
    The war is also against pluralism, individual rights and freedoms, liberal democracy, and Western ideas of progress, and this has become a collective Islamic obsession. Yet the horrific crimes that Muslims commit against their fellow Muslims and Christians are swept under the prayer rug, hidden by the media, and not addressed by world leadership. If the Jews cannot be incriminated for these crimes, then the mere mention of kidnappings, beheadings, honor killings, and other cruelty are forbidden topics.
    And this is where our schools and teaching materials fail us. Except for a perfunctory early timeline on which one might find a designation for Ancient Israelites along with Assyrians, Babylonians and other defunct civilizations, world history studies begin with Ancient Rome and Greece, although the Jews have substantially contributed to human development. The framers of our US Constitution derived their morals, ethics and standards of behavior from Cicero and English Common Law, which drew from biblical law given to the Hebrews by God. Exodus reveals that the Hebrews had a representative form of republican government, not unlike the system created in the Constitution. And while appropriate credit is given other countries, Israel’s contributions in medicine, science and technology to society at large has been overlooked, as is her eternal capital, Jerusalem, which is referenced 823 times in the Hebrew Bible, 161 times in the Christian Bible, and never in the Qur’an.
    Many history textbooks devote a disproportionate number of chapters to Islam. Jerusalem is cited as the city where Mohammed ascended to heaven on a winged horse, but rarely as Israel’s capital. Mohammed has been praised for “impressive leadership skills” but not for his methods of rapine, brutality, and slaughter. There is never mention of Islam’s butchery of 80 million Hindus in India, their skulls piled to mountainous dimensions and their cities burned to the ground; of the all-but-complete annihilation of Iran’s Zoroastrians; or of the trickery used to enslave Iran’s Sogdiana, take healthy men to replenish their Arab army, and annihilate the masses. Neither is there word about Muslims’ killing perhaps as many as 400 million “infidels” over 14 centuries.
    If today’s publishers have made a small correction on a map or two when it was called to their attention, is that sufficient? Have they reviewed all their products (textbooks and maps) for accuracy? No. Absolutely not – not until they are called to task by parents and school boards, and not until the books and maps are thoroughly reviewed by trusted people, rewritten, and distributed anew. It takes the indoctrination of only one generation to completely change the nature of our country. Adding Israel and her name to a map alone, which can then be defaced by the “offended” students, will not bring enlightenment to a world that is plummeting into darkness.☼

  • Isaac

    Harper Collins is owned by Rupert Murdoch, an ardent Zionist and #6 in the top 10 Non-Jewish list. How could he let this happen? It must be a special order for Arab customers.

  • It is so much easier to live in a fantasy world than do the hard work of building a society of one’s own.

  • The Oslo accord is null and void.
    The Arab-Palestinians Charter explicitly states that they want the State of Israel for themselves and the Jewish people destroyed.
    The Arab-Palestinians actions to date has proven that they do not want peace. Why is the liberal left and many of the world nations deluding themselves that the Arabs want peace.
    People of the world wake up and realize what is their ultimate mission, eliminate the unbelievers.
    If the world at large does not wake up now they will be next. It already has started, open you eyes and look around.
    No entity in the world will force a solution on Israel.
    They forced or were complicit to the Final solution in WWII with the Holocaust and the extermination of over 6 million Jewish people, men women and children.
    Where were the worlds nations outcry, threats and objection when millions of Jewish people were being exterminated, men women and children, they were silent.
    Where was the world nations when the Arab countries expelled over a million Jewish people from their countries who lived there for over 1800 years, the Arabs confiscated their assets, business, homes and land 5 times the size of Israel, valued in the trillions of dollars.
    Where is the world nations today? Why they ignore when thousands are slaughtered by Muslims throughout the world.

    Today Israel is being threatened with annihilation and when Israel defends itself from destruction by the Arabs, every country has something to say and threaten Israel and meddle in its actions.
    This is the time when nations of the world must mind their own business and stay out of Israel’s internal affairs. Only then there will be a possibility of peace.

    YJ Draiman

  • June Grant

    If there is no Israel in the mindset of the Arabs, then who are the objects of Palestinian terrorism? Such a waste of explosives, knives, and axes which could otherwise be used in clearing land for building homes, hospitals and schools, carving meat, or chopping wood.
    Of course there’s no point in negotiating ‘peace’ if there is no entity, Zionist or otherwise, with whom to sit down at the table.

  • Helena

    The map that Fatah has is the same map that is exposed in all the schools and official places (in the ARAB world),where a map should be. There has NEVER been a map WITH the name ISRAEL on it. The name is already something that is unmentionable, let alone admitting that there is such a country.
    Therefore, I cannot imagine that the Arab world will buy the new version of HarperCollins.

  • Helena

    How many books have already been sold though? Those books are already in the homes and schools of thousands of schoolchildren. Are those books going to be taken back?

  • steven L

    Although America did not forgive Donald Sterling, affected with Alzheimer, for his private comments made public viciously, I will forgive the person at Harper-Collins who must have Alzheimer as well, for having forgotten that Israel still exist.
    The whole world knows what to expect from “Muslims”: ZERO
    But the same world expects 100% from Israel. That is another way to define antisemitism.
    Like the chameleon that can exhibit many different colors, antisemitism has many varied definitions.

  • Kerry Berger

    Excellent rational opinion written here. While I do not support religious parties as part of any Government or nonprofit organization supporting Israel, the hypocrisy of the Palestinian Authority of continuously denying the existence of Israel seems to be far more aggressively pursued by the PA than actually negotiating and making reasonable concessions by both sides in this dispute. The PA must distance itself from its NAZI German past and accept Israel just as Israel will accept the Palestinian State. If Palestinians cannot tone-down their Nazi-like anti-semitism, there can be no settlement of this dispute and bloodshed will continue for years to come. This is not in the interest of anyone in the world, and at that point, as an American-Jew I want my Government to cut off aid to both the PA and Israel if they don’t make any real efforts to settle this dispute once and for all.

  • Sonia Willats

    Cow-towing to evil NEVER pays off. Harper Collins have acknowledged this, and evidently Scholastic is recovering from a scholastic lapse.

    That the Judea-Christian western world, by and large, chooses to pretend that Fatah-PLO are a peaceful negotiating partner is as remarkable as it is ‘I’m-OK-Jack'(so you can suffer from violence and your neighbours’wish for your destruction alone.)

    What’s remarkable is that the Christian “Bible” describes in detail G-d’s allocation of a Promised Land to Abraham and his seed through Isaac; whilst also promising that Ishmael would prosper and be the father to many nations (and that he and his seed would be contentious.)

    Have the citizens and leaders of these Western Countries, who fail to support Israel’s reasonable claim to defendable boundaries (and her right to defend herself without unreasonable condemnation from the ICC)- have they totally abandoned the basis upon which their cultures were built? I know the church of Rome has the most unenviable history of persecution of Jews, the Lutheran church etc… but have they all simply thrown in their lot with a totally different tract? Are their alliances merely based on pragmatism on the ground… which changes day by day? Do they not see that they will one day pay the price for their fickleness?

    I am deeply surprised at David Cameron… etc. Where do the European leaders think their cow-towing will lead? Are they all, officially, secular humanists, and have they burned their “bibles” as no longer relevant? It would appear so, so they could have a bonfire with HarperCollinss to get rid of their unwanted printed material. One assumes they no longer swear on ‘the book’ and that the abandonment of Israel is, by and large, official policy.

    Thank G-d for Canada, Australia, Nigeria.. a handful amongst the nations who have taken a different, wiser and truer stand. IT NOW NEEDS TO BE STATED LOUD AND CLEAR THAT THE FATAH-PLO MAPS, AS HAMAS MAPS, ARE UNACCEPTABLE AND CONSTITUTE A DECLARATION OF ?GENOCIDE. Do they propose where the unwanted Jews should go to? France, perhaps, to be persecuted in Paris and elsewhere?

    I realise the naivity of above statements, but feel there is room for naivity amidst the cynicism of international politicking.

  • Bullfrog Europe

    The author’s last sentence succinctly proves why the Palestinians are not yet viable partners for peace …

    ” I beg to differ. We have the right to expect the PA to be as reasonable and rational as an American book publisher or anybody else. And if the PA refuses to live up to that standard, then that speaks volumes about its real attitude toward Israel.”

  • judorebbe

    Part of the global (stealth) jihad. – First, the PA and UNWRA maps eliminated Israel. Now, school textbooks are also showing a world without Israel.

  • Susan panse

    csn I vote for the great author of this article?

    • Mireille Mechoullam

      I don’t get your comment. Can you please explain?