British Publisher, Bookseller Pull Children’s Book That Erases Israel From Middle East
A British bookseller and publishing house have both removed from their websites a children’s book that was accused of being “misleading and biased” for failing to include Israel on a map of the Middle East.
“Amazing Women of the Middle East” by Wafa Tarnowska is no longer listed on the website of Pikku Publishing, which also removed teaching resources based on the book that it had provided online, the advocacy group UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) said on Thursday. The bookseller Hive.co.uk also confirmed to UKLFI that it has pulled the title from its website and also from those of its sister companies, Gardner’s and The Little Group. Hive.co.uk additionally told publishers they have withdrawn their stock from the book’s sales.
Caroline Turner, director of UK Lawyers for Israel, applauded the news and added, “It is shocking that a book for children in the UK could have presented such a misleading picture of the Middle East. I hope the publishers will now amend the book so Israel will be back on the map and that Jewish Israeli women will be included in the profiles.”
“Amazing Women of the Middle East” featured on its eighth page a map that replaced Israel with “Palestine.” The children’s book profiles 24 trailblazing women but also made no mention of a single Jewish or Israeli woman.
UKLFI called on the book’s publishers in the UK and US last week to withdraw, edit, and then republish the children’s book with a map of the Middle East that shows Israel, and to include at least one “amazing woman” from Israel.
The group also argued that using the book as a teaching resource in schools would likely place Pikku Publishing in breach of Section 406 of the UK’s Education Act 1996, which bars the “promotion of partisan political views” in school curricula. UKLFI wrote to other major booksellers — including Amazon, Waterstones, Foyles, Blackwell’s and Bookshop.org — asking them not to sell the book until it has been edited.
Canada’s largest bookseller, Indigo, reportedly pulled the book earlier in December after similar complaints, according to Canadian Jewish News podcast.
The book’s publisher in the US, Crocodile Books, an imprint of Interlink Publishing, has yet to respond to UKLFI’s request about the book.
Interlink Publishing, an independent publishing house, has previously published controversial novels critical of Israel such as “Young Palestinians Speak: Living Under Occupation” and “Speaking the Truth: Zionism, Israel, and Occupation.” Interlink’s founder and editor, Michel Moushabeck, has accused Israel of “apartheid” and imposing “a system of racism and oppression that inflicts suffering on the Palestinians.”
Editor’s note: this article was updated to include details on the book being removed from a Canadian bookseller