Israel wiped off the map[1]

Where is Israel? (Image courtesy The Tablet)

By Spencer D Gear

Would you believe that one of the world’s largest publishers, HarperCollins (Zondervan is one of its subsidiaries), has excluded the nation of Israel in atlases sold to schools in the Middle East? You can read some details at, ‘Israel missing from HarperCollins atlases sold to Middle East schools‘ (Brisbane Times, January 3, 2015).

This article states:

For months, publishing giant HarperCollins has been selling an atlas it says was “developed specifically for schools in the Middle East.” It trumpets the work as providing students an “in-depth coverage of the region and its issues.” Its stated goals include helping kids understand the “relationship between the social and physical environment, the region’s challenges [and] its socio-economic development.”

Nice goals. But there’s one problem: Israel is missing.

There’s Syria. There’s Jordan. There’s Gaza. But no mention of Israel. The story was first reported by a Catholic publication, the Tablet.

The article also states that one branch of HarperCollins, Collins Bartholomew, ‘that specialises in maps, told the Tablet that it would have been “unacceptable” to include Israel in atlases intended for the Middle East. They had deleted Israel to satisfy “local preferences”‘.

This sounds like political correctness gone amuck that a controversial, but significant, Middle Eastern nation is not even mentioned in this atlas.

Now HarperCollins did issue an apology according to this article:

HarperCollins regrets the omission of the name Israel from their Collins Middle East Atlas,” HarperCollins UK said on its Facebook page. “This product has now been removed from sale in all territories and all remaining stock will be pulped. HarperCollins sincerely apologises for this omission and for any offence it caused.

The book

The atlas is titled, Collins Primary Geography Atlas For The Middle East (Amazon). However, when this writer went to the HarperCollins Publishers website to locate this publication, the only message found was, ‘0 results found’. It seems that the book has been withdrawn from publication.

One reviewer of the book on the website stated: ‘Did not purchase this map, but saw graphic of the relevant area with the state of Israel left out. This stunt vitiates the reputation of HarperCollins as a publisher of anything. There is no explanation for this behavior that would excuse this egregious lack of editorial judgement’ (Marshall E. Poole). He gave the book a #1 rating, which is the very worst rating possible. Another reviewer wrote: ‘I look forward with interest to HarperCollin’s upcoming atlas tailored to “local preferences” for the Russian market. Sorry, Ukraine; so long, Baltic nations, etc….’ (contranym). Again a #1 rating. The majority of the ratings were #1, which should be sending an anathema warning to the publisher. It should be getting the message.

The Times of Israel has written an article to address this issue, ‘HarperCollins erases Israel from atlases‘. Part of the article states,

Bishop Declan Lang, chairman of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales Department of International Affairs, told The Tablet that the maps will harm peace efforts.

“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,” he said.

Customs officials in one Gulf nation previously did not allow the school atlases into the country until the labeling of Israel had been crossed out by hand, according to The Tablet.

Israel the nation

Why should the nation of Israel be recognised on a map of the Middle East in the 21st century?

On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Jewish Agency, proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel. U.S. President Harry S. Truman recognized the new nation on the same day.

Although the United States supported the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which favored the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had assured the Arabs in 1945 that the United States would not intervene without consulting both the Jews and the Arabs in that region. The British, who held a colonial mandate for Palestine until May 1948, opposed both the creation of a Jewish state and an Arab state in Palestine as well as unlimited immigration of Jewish refugees to the region. Great Britain wanted to preserve good relations with the Arabs to protect its vital political and economic interests in Palestine….

Despite growing conflict between Palestinian Arabs and Palestinian Jews and despite the Department of State’s endorsement of a trusteeship, Truman ultimately decided to recognize the state Israel (Milestones: 1945-1952, Creation of Israel, 1948, U. S. Department of State, Office of the Historian).

Is Israel a secular or religious nation?

According to this article from the Brisbane Times,  eliminating Israel from the atlas of the Middle East was following a deliberate strategy: ‘to satisfy “local preferences”‘, and those preferences were not to affirm Israel as a nation on the geographical face of the globe.

It is a common view that I’ve heard bandied about the mass media that Israel is a secular nation. Is that the case? This article from the Jerusalem Center for Religious Affairs, ‘How Religious are Israeli Jews?‘ indicates that about 20% are considered secular Jews. The article has some interesting figures about the religious vs the secular Jews in Israel.

It begins with this observation about the common mass media view :

For years, reporting from Israel and the comments of those Israelis whom the reporters cover or interview has suggested that Israeli Jews are divided into two groups: the overwhelmingly majority who are secular and a small minority who are religious. While figures, even percentages, were not always stated, it was generally assumed that 80 percent of Israelis fell into the secular camp and were being religiously coerced in one way or another by the religious 20 percent. Why do you think many Christians could be pro-Israel??

The issue raised in this article points to censorship of the geography of a prominent nation in the Middle East.

Since I’m an Aussie, I have written to HarperCollins Australia (email) about this censorship. I do hope that all who read this brief article will send a brief email or letter to HarperCollins in your country to complain about what it has done with this exclusion of Israel from a Middle Eastern map.

Significant questions

No matter how much HarperCollins apologises, this leaves me with some significant questions:

  • What would cause any publisher to wipe a country entirely off the map – annihilate it geographically?
  • What influences would cause a publisher to do this?
  • How could a publisher send an atlas to editors for final editing and this exclusion is not noted or corrected?
  • Is this politically correct speech in action?
  • What does this say about what this publisher could do in other publications? Can the publisher be trusted with accuracy in other publications?

At least one branch of the publisher has admitted, according to the Brisbane Times’ article, that ‘it would have been “unacceptable” to include Israel in atlases intended for the Middle East. They had deleted Israel to satisfy “local preferences”‘. Why is it ‘unacceptable’ when the existence of the nation of Israel is a fact?


[1] I have posted some of this information to 3 Christian forums: (1) Christian, End Times, ‘Israel erased from maps’, OzSpen#43. Available at: (Accessed 3 January 2015). (2) Christian Fellowship Forum, ‘Israel obliterated’, ozspen#1. Available at: (Accessed 3 January 2015). (3) Christian, ‘Israel gone missing’, OzSpen#1. Available at: (Accessed 3 January 2015).


Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 4 June 2016.