HarperCollins, one of the world's largest publishing houses, sells English-language atlases to schools in the Middle East that omit Israel. Collins Middle East Atlases show Jordan and Syria extending to the Mediterranean but do mark the position of the West Bank. “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,” said Bishop Declan Lang, the chairman of the Bishops' Conference Department of International Affairs, to The Tablet.
“Maps can be a very powerful tool in terms of de-legitimising 'the other' and can lead to confusion rather than clarity. We would be keen to see relevant bodies ensure that all atlases anywhere reflect the official United Nations position on nations, boundaries and all political features," added Dr Jane Clements, director of the Council of Christians and Jews.
However, Collins Bartholomew, the subsidiary of HarperCollins [based in Scotland] that specialises in maps, said that including Israel would have been “unacceptable” to their customers in the Gulf and the amendment incorporated “local preferences”.
The Tablet said it had discovered the customs officers in one unnamed Gulf country only permitting the import of school atlases once Israel had been deleted by hand.