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April 27, 2020 1:06 pm

UK Educational Publisher Withdraws Textbook Accused of Bias Against Israel

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

An empty classroom. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A major UK publisher of educational materials is withdrawing a textbook on the Middle East conflict that has been criticized as biased against Israel.

Hodder Education said in regard to its textbook Conflict in the Middle East 1945-95: “After further consideration, we have decided to remove the book from sale and will reconsider its future.”

The move comes after a 45-page criticism of the first chapter of the textbook, written by Noru Tsalic, was issued by the group UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI). It pointed out what it considered inaccuracies and biased statements in regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The study found, for example, that the textbook tended to use the term “Palestine” to describe the area in question, while using the Jewish name for the area — “the Land of Israel” — only in direct references to Jews or Zionism, thus privileging one side of the conflict.

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The textbook also used the term “Jewish settlers” to describe the early Zionist immigrants, thus employing a loaded term from today’s political debates that does not apply to earlier periods in history.

The term “terrorism” appears in the textbook in reference to actions by Zionist groups, such as the Irgun and Lehi, but not in reference to Arab attacks on Jewish civilians.

The textbook also refers to America’s “large and powerful Jewish community” as a major factor in US support for a Jewish state.

Tsalic stated, “There are many issues with this textbook. The factual account is often selective, partial and marred by errors; essential historical context is ignored or superficially treated; there is a general lack of scholarly rigor in the way the topic is covered.”

UKLFI Director Caroline Turner commented on the news that the textbook had been withdrawn, saying, “It is very important that children learning about this complex subject are taught in a balanced and accurate manner. We are pleased that another misleading and inaccurate school textbook, purporting to teach about Middle East history, is being withdrawn and reconsidered.”

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