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December 28, 2021 12:20 pm
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Erased: How Maps Are Used to Undermine the Existence of Israel

avatar by Rachel O'Donoghue

Opinion

What it doesn’t include, however, is the State of Israel. The book’s colorful map of the Middle East removed any mention of the Jewish homeland, instead labeling the entire country as “Palestine.”

This month, Canada’s biggest bookseller Chapters Indigo pulled copies of the children’s book from its shelves after Daniel Koren, Canadian director of Hasbara Fellowships, spotted it and contacted Indigo directly.

The response from Indigo Chapters was a commendable one: the business acknowledged that the sale of the book had breached its own policy and thus rectified the problem.

Yet, this is not the first time that Israel has been expunged from maps of the Middle East.

It is a problem that has cropped up repeatedly, and while sometimes these instances are genuine mistakes, on other occasions, they represent an insidious attempt to undermine the legitimacy of the State of Israel.

Maps are a historical record and, therefore, the removal of Israel is a denial of reality — that of Jewish people living in their ancient homeland.

In May, a member of the New York State Assembly sparked condemnation, including from her own colleagues, when she shared an image that labeled the entirety of the Jewish state as “Palestine.”

The timing of Democratic Phara Souffrant Forrest’s tweet was particularly relevant: it came in the midst of the 11-day Hamas-initiated conflict against Israel. The US-designated terrorist organization was founded with the primary goal of obliterating the Jewish state.

As Forrest’s fellow assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal observed at the time: “Just like Hamas, my Assembly colleague wants to wipe Israel off the map.”

It seems, however, that Forrest actually took the misleading map from another source; namely, Vogue Arabia.

The so-called “Fashion Bible” had posted the exact same image of a flower-festooned Israel on its Instagram page and website, alongside a caption that described the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a “hot-button” issue. It claimed the illustration was created by a Turkey-based artist in response to “Palestine not being included in Google Maps.”

However, Google had already debunked the claim that “Palestine” was deliberately wiped off maps of the region, explaining that there was no general consensus on where a potential Palestinian state’s borders would be, and pointed out that it had marked the areas of the West Bank and Gaza with dashed lines.

Despite outrage from social media users, who accused the publication of attempting to undermine the Jewish state’s legitimacy, the image remains live on its Instagram account today.

In 2019, New Zealand’s immigration minister issued an apology to Israel’s ambassador after a map produced by his department used the pre-1967 borders to depict the region, thus erasing a large part of the Jewish state.

Alarmingly, the erroneous incident map had been produced as part of an Immigration New Zealand (INZ) “fact sheet” about Palestinian refugees, with a spokesman for INZ saying the document was designed to provide more information about New Zealand’s refugee program. In short, it was for a website that is meant to be an authoritative source for information.

Numerous news outlets have also been guilty of using maps to misrepresent the region.

For example, HonestReporting previously prompted CNN to take down an image it had posted to accompany an article titled, “Beyond ISIS: 2015’s scariest Geopolitical hot spots.” The deleted map had replaced the word “Israel” with “Palestina.”

Non-profit media organization NPR also opted to use a drawing of the region in 2016 that was riddled with mistakes, including the rebranding of Israel as “Palestine.” Readers were quick to complain to the organization, which issued a statement that admitted there were a disturbing “number of errors” in the picture.

The above are just a handful of examples of how Israel’s very existence as the state of the Jewish people has been denied. Yet, they serve as reminders that some who oppose the Jewish state are willing to rewrite historical records to mislead the public and further their anti-Israel agendas.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

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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