Reverse censorship of Palestine maps, scholars tell McGraw-Hill

An image published by Elder of Ziyon from the textbook Global Politics, as part of the anti-Palestinian blogger’s successful campaign to pressure McGraw Hill over maps depicting land loss in Palestine.

A group of American and international scholars is urging publishing giant McGraw-Hill Education to reverse its recent decision to withdraw and destroy its US college textbook containing a sequence of maps depicting the progressive loss of Palestinian land to Zionist and Israeli colonialism between 1946 and 2000.

In a letter signed by more than 35 prominent academics, including Judith Butler, Ilan Pappe, Avi Shlaim and Noam Chomsky, the scholars state, “This blatant act of censorship, in response to complaints from those who seek to suppress a free exchange of knowledge and ideas about Israel and Palestine, is shocking and unacceptable.”

The letter was drafted by the Jewish Voice for Peace academic advisory council.

Though the political science textbook, titled Global Politics: Engaging a Complex World, was published in 2012, the backlash against it was only instigated last month, when anti-Palestinian blogger Elder of Ziyon directed readers to contact McGraw-Hill with complaints against the maps.

Other right-wing and anti-Palestinian media outlets picked up the story, including The Blaze and The Tower, a production of The Israel Project, a well-funded Israeli propaganda group.

“As soon as we learned about the concerns with it,” Catherine Mathis, a spokesperson for McGraw-Hill Education, told Inside Higher Ed, “we placed sales of the book on hold and immediately initiated an academic review.”

Mathis said the review found the map did not meet their academic standards and that the publisher would cease selling the book and destroy all remaining copies. Mathis also said McGraw-Hill was offering refunds to those who return the book.

The publisher did not respond to The Electronic Intifada’s questions about who had conducted the review and how they reached their conclusion.

The signatories of the letter reject the publisher’s explanation: “If there were in fact any minor errors with the maps they should have been corrected rather than removed altogether.”

“It is essential that faculty and students have access to educational materials that speak to the dispossession Palestinians have experienced and continue to experience today. We cannot have a truly comprehensive understanding of Palestine or Israel without this information.”

Elder of Ziyon, an anonymous blogger, and The Blaze had based their protest on the claim that the maps erroneously referred to the territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River as Palestine, while during the time period it was under the control of various occupying powers.

In an email to The Electronic Intifada, Rashid Khalidi, a historian at Columbia University who signed the letter, said, “The absurd critique of these maps is just a reformulation of the persistent denial of Palestinian peoplehood, which was summarized in Golda Meir’s notorious 1969 claim that the Palestinians never existed. The purpose of this effort to delegitimize Palestinian claims is transparently obvious: it is meant to bolster an exclusive Zionist claim to the entirety of Palestine.”

“Israel refuses to draw definitive borders to its territory, leaving open the full annexation of all of historic Palestine,” signatory Katherine Franke, also a professor at Columbia University, wrote in an email to The Electronic Intifada. “Mapping in Israel is a highly politicized project, and tragically US academic publishing has now been drawn into that politics.”




Cowardly rewriting of history to conform to zionist viewpoint. Won't buy any more of their books!


The only thing businesses like McGraw Hill will understand is Boycotting, so I think that the way to bring the point home to them is a campaign of refusing to BUY any of their products, once their pockets are affected, they will realise how incensed people are by this blatant censorship!


Since these are textbooks, the end users (students) can't boycott them. It's up to teachers, school districts, etc.


I hope EI can find out who the reviewers were. It would really highlight the anti-education craven-ness of the McGraw-Hill action. Might cause them a loss of sales as buyers question how broadly their eagerness to withold facts from their textbooks and customers extends.


Young people have little historical knowledge so don;t even realise the country was once ALL Palestine.
This book will simply underwrite the unspoken Netanyahu et al bias in the media.


As Nepoleon once said: "History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon." -


My letter to McGraw-Hill dated March 24, 2016:

You have brazenly rewritten history by omitting the maps of Palestine. Education that succumbs to political pressure, as you have, is nothing more than propaganda. In Orwell's 1984 the Ministry of Truth was indeed the ministry of propaganda which you have become. Don't you have any decency or integrity? Do you always succumb to the highest bidder, pander to the lowest common denominator?


I received a response from McGraw-Hill to my letter that I posted earlier. Their arrogance and deception is mind boggling. Welcome to 1984.. :

Thank you for your email. When we learned about the concerns with a map in “Global Politics: Engaging a Complex World,” we placed sales of the book on hold and immediately initiated an academic review with several independent historians who have expertise in Middle East history and geography. Given the information we received from the review, we determined that the map did not meet our academic standards. We informed the authors and are no longer selling the book.

We believe that the action we took was warranted by the academic standards we have in place and the responses we received from the independent sources with whom we consulted.


Paula O | Customer Service Representative | Customer Service
School Education, Higher Education, Professional
McGraw-Hill Education | 860 Taylor Station Road Blacklick, OH 43004
School Education: 800-334-7344
Higher Education: 800-338-3987
Professional: 800-722-4726
F: 614-759-3644


Boycott new publications to be sure, but BUY UP AND PRESERVE the current available books so as not to allow this censorship initiative to go unrecorded for students and citizens of world events, this re-writng of history.

Charlotte Silver

Charlotte Silver's picture

Charlotte Silver is an independent journalist and regular writer for The Electronic Intifada. She is based in Oakland, California and has reported from Palestine since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @CharESilver.