After outrage over a HarperCollins atlas designed for schools in the Middle East that literally wiped Israel from the map, the publisher announced Wednesday that it has removed the atlas from “sale in all territories” and apologized for “any offense it caused.”
The atlas, which has been on sale for months, was developed to satisfy “local preferences” of English-speaking schools in the Muslim-majority Gulf. HarperCollins promoted the atlas as a tool to provide children “in-depth coverage of the region and its issues” and help them better understand the “relationship between the social and physical environment, the region’s challenges [and] its socio-economic development.”
“Nice goals,” the Washington Post quips, “But there’s one problem: Israel is missing. There’s Syria. There’s Jordan. There’s Gaza. But no mention of Israel.”
After Catholic publication the Tablet first reported the story, HarperCollins has faced increasing pressure. Wednesday, HarperCollins UK announced on its Facebook page that it’s pulling the Israel-less atlas:
HarperCollins regrets the omission of the name Israel from their Collins Middle East Atlas. This product 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 offense it caused.
As for why HarperCollins decided to publish the atlas in the first place, a representative of a subsidiary for the publisher explained that including Israel would’ve been “unacceptable” for its intended Middle Eastern customers. As the Washington Post points out, though Israel is left off, the West Bank is included on the map.
Declan Lang, a British bishop chairing the conference that first exposed the offensive map, told the Tablet that the publication is more proof of the “hostility” toward the country from “parts of the Arab world” and that it works against building a “spirit of trust leading to peaceful co-existence.”