Shalom Life | March 02, 2015

San Diego State University Class Replaces Map that Labelled Israel as Palestine

In an Arabic language course at SDSU, a map that excluded Israel and labelled all of its territory as Palestine has been replaced

By: Graham Sigurdson

Published: September 17th, 2013 in News » World

San Diego State University Class Replaces Map that Labelled Israel as Palestine

In an Arabic language course at San Diego State University, Professor Ghassan Zakaria provided his students with a map that excluded Israel and labelled all of its territory as Palestine, according to jns.org

After using the map in Arabic 101, students sought out the assistance of pro-Israel education group StandWithUS. In an email, the regional director of StandWithUs San Diego wrote: "With no context given to the students about the map, no explanation, and no discussion to frame the reasons for why that particular map was being used—the students were unsure of how to handle the situation."

Following the incident, Ghada Osman, the chairman of the Linguistics and Asian/Middle Eastern Languages department at San Diego State, wrote to concerned members of the community that Zakaria would be replacing the map.

"Prof. Zakaria explained [to me] that the reason that he utilized the label ‘Palestine’ was because this map was supposed to reflect the view of Arabic-speakers in the region," Osman wrote. "After assigning the map, Prof. Zakaria’s aim was then to have students get into groups and research the political developments of each area on the map, with the assumption that this would lead to a discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the history of the state of Israel. After our conversation, Prof. Zakaria agreed that it would be more appropriate to discuss the context of the assignment at the outset. He will therefore explain the context and distribute a map that includes labels for members of the Arab League as well as Israel."

On the new map, Israel is hand-written. In a statement, StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein said "We are especially appreciative and impressed by the university’s rapid response to the concerns we expressed on behalf of students. We only wish other universities were as responsive to student concerns."

StandWithUs have since announced the formation of two new scholarship funds to strengthen their relationship with SDSU: the "Stand With Us-San Diego State Jewish Studies Scholarship" (which will support students enrolled in Jewish studies) and the "Stand With Us-San Diego State ISrael Study Abroad Scholarship."

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