Rania Khalek’s recent article for Electronic Intifada reports on the decision of McGraw-Hill to burn the textbook titled Global Politics: Engaging A Complex World because pro-Israeli groups campaigned against the inclusion of a widely-circulated image (see graphic below) of Palestine loss of land. The maps in the image illustrate Israel’s aggressive expropriation of Palestinian land from 1946 until 2000. Inside Higher Ed also reported on the decision to destroy the books because the publisher came under political pressure of Zionists who challenged the accuracy of the maps. Khalek’s article shows how the erasure of Palestinians from their historic homeland is also subject to narrative erasure as publishers cave to pro-Israeli interest groups, who seek to conceal Zionist expansionism. She also draws attention to the nefarious alignment of pro-Israeli and racist and Islamphobic pundits and bloggers, who have sought to frame Palestinian resistance in terms of Islamist militancy by denying the historic injustices faced by Palestinians.
These maps are particularly powerful because they graphically and effectively illustrate to a general public a 70 year history of Palestinian dispossession and Israeli expropriation of land. The four images show how the creation of Israel in 1948 and Israel’s subsequent territorial expansion following the 1967 War went hand in hand with the reduction of the Palestinian homeland.
The maps tell a story that is well documented by Palestinian and Israeli historians. Palestinian research provides narratives that demonstrate the undeniable presence of Arabs in the cities and country side throughout Palestine prior to 1948. For example, Walid Khalidi’s Before Their Diaspora (1984) and Nur Masalha’s The Palestine Nakba (2012) counter the dispossession of Palestinians by presenting a record of social life and political resistance in historic Palestine. For the last 30 years, Israeli history books, such as Simha Flapan’s The Birth of Israel: Myths and Realities (1988), Benny Morris’s The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, and Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2007), produced matching and corroborative accounts of the founding violence of Israel and the dispossession of Palestinians.
The United Nations created UNWRA to respond in part to the tragic situation of Palestinian refugees, who were forced from their homes in 1948 and in many cases were compelled to relocate a second time with the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. UN reports on Palestine in general confirm the ongoing process of uprooting Palestinians, especially with the negative consequences of Israel’s current settlement activity. For instance, the UN-appointed International Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (2012) reported on state support for a segregationist settlement policy that results in the massive violation of Palestinian human rights. “These violations are all interrelated, forming part of an overall pattern of breaches that are characterised principally by the denial of the right to self-determination and systemic discrimination against the Palestinian people which occur on a daily basis. Ms. Unity Dow, member of the Mission from Botswana states in the Mission’s press release: “The magnitude of violations relating to Israel’s policies of dispossessions, evictions, demolitions and displacements from land shows the widespread nature of these breaches of human rights. The motivation behind violence and intimidation against the Palestinians and their properties is to drive the local populations away from their lands, allowing the settlements to expand.”
In its destruction of its Global Politics textbook, McGraw-Hill participates in a futile attempt to deny Israel’s territorial expansion and the resulting injustices faced by Palestinians in their historic lands. Instead of blocking out the historical narrative of Palestinian dispossession, the burning of the textbook adds to it by bringing into focus the power and credibility of the maps. After all, if these maps did not somehow express a truth about the violence of the Israeli state, there would be no reason to fear and censor them.