HarperCollins, condemned for caving in to Arab pressure and erasing Israel from its atlases, was forced to issue an apology.

HarperCollins, one of the world’s leading publishing companies, has omitted Israel from atlases it produces for English-speaking schools in the Middle East.

Instead of Israel appearing on the map, Jordan and Syria extended all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. However, the publishers did manage to include the so-called West Bank.

Asked by Tablet Magazine about this altering of geography and history, the reason given that Israel on the map was “unacceptable” to the Gulf States and that this was done to incorporate “local preferences,” i.e. no State of Israel.

Customs officials in one Gulf state did not allow earlier editions of the atlas into the country until the labeling of Israel had been crossed out by hand, The Tablet reports.

The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales condemned HarperCollins. As Bishop Declan Lang of the Conference’s Department of International Affairs told the Tablet: “The publication of this atlas will confirm Israel’s belief that there exists a hostility towards their country from parts of the Arab world. It will not help to build up a spirit of trust leading to peaceful co-existence.”

‘Shame on HarperCollins’

“Shame on HarperCollins,” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, told The Algemeiner. Rabbi Cooper called on HarperCollins to “take a stand,” arguing that the company should have the courage to tell its clients in the Gulf, “if you are asking us to supply you with world-famous atlases, don’t tell us what to put in there. HarperCollins should say, ‘our job is to present you with reality.’”

Dr. Jane Clements, director of the Council of Christians and Jews, told the Tablet: “Maps can be a very powerful tool in terms of delegitimizing ‘the other’ and can lead to confusion rather than clarity. We would be keen to see relevant bodies ensure that all atlases anywhere reflect the official UN position on nations, boundaries and all political features.”

The blatant distortion of reality generated a public outcry, forcing HarperCollins to issue a public apology. The company announced that the atlas “has now been removed from sale in all territories and all remaining stock will be pulped. HarperCollins sincerely apologizes for this omission and for any offence caused.”

Not the First Time

Erasing Israel from map also seems to be a somewhat common “printing error.”

Two years after what it terms an “inadvertent error,” the Scholastic Corporation, the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books, has still not fully rectified the omission of Israel from a popular children’s book.

Thea Stilton and the Blue Scarab Hunt, published by Scholastic in 2012, is a children’s story that takes place in Egypt. The map illustration showing Egypt’s borders deletes Israel. Jordan appears instead of Israel.

Pressed for an explanation, the publishing house apologized in November 2013, blaming an oversight in translation from the original Italian. Scholastic said it would discontinue selling the book until the map was corrected in the next edition.

By Aryeh Savir
Staff Writer, United with Israel