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September 16, 2013 9:00 am

San Diego State University Class Replaces Map That Labeled Israel as ‘Palestine’

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Map of Middle East Without Israel. Photo: Israel Today.

JNS.orgSan Diego State University (SDSU) agreed to replace a map from an Arabic language course that excluded Israel and instead labeled all of the Jewish state’s territory as “Palestine.”

Several students, following the usage of the map in Professor Ghassan Zakaria’s Arabic 101 class, sought out the assistance of the pro-Israel education group StandWithUs following the appearance of the map.

“With no context given to the students about the map, no explanation, and no discussion to frame the reasons for why that particular map was being used—the students were unsure of how to handle the situation,” Nicole Bernstein, regional director of StandWithUs San Diego, wrote in an email.

Ghada Osman, chair of the SDSU Linguistics & Asian/Middle Eastern Languages department, eventually wrote to concerned community members that Zakaria would replace the map with one that identifies Israel.

“Prof. Zakaria explained [to me] that the reason that he utilized the label ‘Palestine’ was because this map was supposed to reflect the view of Arabic-speakers in the region,” Osman wrote. “After assigning the map, Prof. Zakaria’s aim was then to have students get into groups and research the political developments of each area on the map, with the assumption that this would lead to a discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the history of the state of Israel. After our conversation, Prof. Zakaria agreed that it would be more appropriate to discuss the context of the assignment at the outset. He will therefore explain the context and distribute a map that includes labels for members of the Arab League as well as Israel.”

“Israel” is hand-written into the course’s new map.

“We are especially appreciative and impressed by the university’s rapid response to concerns we expressed on behalf of students,” StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein said in a statement. “We only wish other universities were as responsive to student concerns.

StandWithUs also announced the formation of two new scholarship funds to expand its relationship with the university—the “Stand With Us-San Diego State Jewish Studies Scholarship” (supporting students enrolled in Jewish Studies courses) and the “Stand With Us-San Diego State Israel Study Abroad Scholarship.”

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  • Ralph Vaughan

    If the teacher wants to promote the Palestinian view of the region, does that mean he also promotes the Palestinian view of the Jewish people as exterminated?

  • Daniel

    Is anyone really surprised anymore about the lack of oversight and fair and balanced approach to education in this country, at any level?

    One can immediately question the sincerity of any educator who does something like this, because for him to show a map of the arab countries around Israel using current map lines is disingenuous at best. Many of those lines redrawn post WWI by the Brits, French and Turks.

    And although the area has historically and improperly been referred to as Palestine, the Brits held the territory after ousting the Ottoman Empire and bequeathed the land as the British Mandate of Transjordan to the Jews prior to the creation of the United Nations. And from 1948 when it was ratified by the UN, the recreation of the historical state of Israel was completed.

    It is an important historical note that there never existed in history a Palestinian people, nor independent country with a government, with a unique culture, language, currency and unique geography, so we have to admit this is a creation of the 20th century whose claims are spurious at best. But I doubt that the “Professor” has that point of view!

    It is also interesting to note that during the creation of the country of Jordan, @75% of its population could have been considered Palestinian. Should we then call the squatters left in Israel Trans-Jordians?

    Shana Tova