Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

College Textbook Discontinued after Pro-Israel Groups Object to Dispossession Maps

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

College Textbook Discontinued after Pro-Israel Groups Object to Dispossession Maps

Article excerpt

GLOBAL POLITICS: ENGAGING a Complex World, a textbook used in political science courses throughout the country since 2012, will no longer be on syllabi this fall. In March, the book's publisher, McGraw-Hill Education, announced that it has ceased publication of the textbook due to a series of maps showing the Palestinians' progressive loss of land to Israel from 1946-2000.

The abrupt decision to recall the book came after Elder of Ziyon, a pro-Israel blog, initiated a movement against the textbook earlier this year. In a March 1 post, the anonymously written blog said that "McGraw-Hill must be held accountable for pushing such propaganda in college classrooms," and encouraged readers to contact the company's customer service department. A week later, McGraw-Hill announced that the textbook would be discontinued and all existing copies of the book destroyed.

"As soon as we learned about the concerns with it, we placed sales of the book on hold and immediately initiated an academic review," McGraw-Hill spokeswoman Catherine Mathis said in a statement. "The review determined that the map did not meet our academic standards. We have informed the authors and we are no longer selling the book. All existing inventory will be destroyed. We apologize and will refund payment to anyone who returns the book."

The publisher's decision prompted 35 prominent academics, including Ilan Pappé, Judith Butler, Rashid Khalidi and Angela Davis, to sign a letter expressing their disapproval. The letter, organized by Jewish Voice for Peace, refers to the incident as "shocking and unacceptable," as well as a "blatant act of censorship." Above all, they note that the publisher's decision will deprive students of accurate information. "The maps in question are historically accurate and vividly illustrate Israel's dispossession of the Palestinian people and appropriation of their land, which is why the Israeli government and its supporters wish to suppress them," the letter says.

This is not the first time maps depicting the diminishing size of Palestine have been a source of controversy. Last year, MSNBC received backlash for airing the same maps. It, too, bowed to pro-Israel pressure, releasing a statement apologizing for using "not factually accurate" maps.

CONTINUED DIVESTMENT SUCCESS

During the spring semester, several student organizations mounted successful divestment campaigns on campus.

In New York, the Doctoral Students' Council at the City University of New York (CUNY) passed a resolution calling for an academic boycott of Israel "for as long as the Israeli state continues to violate Palestinian rights under international law." The resolution was approved in a 42-19 vote, with 9 abstentions.

Students at the University of Chicago approved a resolution calling on the school to divest from companies that aid or profit from Israel's "violation of human rights and international law in Palestine." The proposal passed by an 8-4 vote, with 3 abstentions.

At the University of Minnesota, students scored a partial victory in April, when a watered-down version of their divestment resolution was approved. The initial resolution called for divestment from Caterpillar, Elbit Systems, G4S and Raytheon-four companies that, in the words of the resolution, profit from "human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories, the U.S.-Mexico border and in prison detention centers across the world." Per the suggestion of a student affiliated with Students Supporting Israel, the resolution was amended, and all references to specific companies were removed. …

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