Ahmadinejad promised it. Now British textbooks are doing it. Israel has been wiped off the map by Garnet Education, an English-language teaching company in Britain, whose educational textbook 'Skills in English Writing Level 1', aimed at foreign students and immigrants to the UK, contains a map with "Occupied Palestine" in place of the Jewish State.
Speaking to the Algemeiner, the prominent American Jewish newspaper which broke the story, school teacher Liz Wiseman noted that the book is "one of the more popular and mainstream English language teaching (ELT) textbooks published by Garnet, which is quite popular and mainstream itself."
A number of publications, such as The Commentator, have picked up on the story. Crucially, however, they missed a vital detail: Garnet Education is controlled by a Lebanese media empire owned by pro-Syrian Arab nationalist Tahseen Khayat, whose daughter runs the UK subsidiary companies, including Garnet Education.
An Arab media forum describes Khayat as "one of the most prominent publishers on both Arab and international levels and owns a number of publishing houses in the UK and France." Khayat runs the Tahseen Khayat Group, which works closely with Middle Eastern governments to educate Arab youth. The journalist Robert Fisk, while discussing Lebanese television channel New TV, which Khayat founded, notes that "the Khayat family's television station has always carried a Syrian 'point of view' – they were even allowed into the Syrian city of Deraa at the beginning of the Syrian revolution and their senior cameraman in Deraa was Shabaan."
Several years ago, New TV promoted the work of German writer Jürgen Cain Külbel, a conspiracy theorist who claims that Israeli spy agency Mossad was responsible for assassination of Lebanese President Rafic Hariri. In reality, four members of the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah have been indicted at the International Court of Justice for the crime.
Khayat's daughter, Nadia Khayat, runs the UK-based companies Garnet Education and Ithaca Press. Ithaca Press describes itself as the "leading publisher of academic books on Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies". Garnet Publishing, part of Garnet Education, produces fiction books that are also on Middle Eastern subjects. Many of these books deal with Arab resistance to putative Israeli and Western belligerence. One recently published fiction book by Garnet Publishing, The Almond Tree, tells the reader that Israeli soldiers murder Palestinians in cold blood and burn down their homes.
In posts on their websites, both Garnet and Ithaca glorify the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah: "For Lebanon it was a time of misfortune … Only Hezbollah – thanks to its August 2006 victory in the thirty-three day war over the reputedly invincible Israeli army – seems to have bucked the trend."
In 2003, Tahsin Khayat released a statement proclaiming he is "well-known as a patriot and an Arab nationalist. He deals with Israel and the US as enemies and not allies, especially when it comes to the Palestinian intifada..."
Garnet Education books are used to teach English to immigrants across the world. The British Council, set up by the UK Government and sponsored by the British Foreign Office, has run events with Garnet and endorses their material, claiming Garnet has "established a global reputation for quality and innovation." Why is the British government sponsoring such a company? Judges of the Duke of Edinburgh ESU English Language Award have described the book as "extremely well-planned and constructed and very impressive." Generations of students have been provided educational textbooks by this network of companies with a manifest hatred for Israel and the West.
Using textbooks as propaganda, however, is not a new story. In 2007, it emerged that the King Fahd Academy school in London was using textbooks encouraged by the Saudi Ministry for Education, which described Jews as "apes" and Christians as "pigs". According to the Evening Standard, pupils were allegedly heard saying they want to "kill Americans", praise 9/11 and idolise Osama bin Laden as their "hero".
In the same year, an investigation by The Times uncovered that Mahmood Chandia, a senior lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire, was teaching that music is a way in which Jews spread "the Satanic web" to corrupt young Muslims.
In 2010, it was revealed that the leading geography textbook for British school students encouraged students to ask questions such as "Why did the Jews seize land that is now Israel?" The textbook also sought to excuse terrorism, informing school students that "Palestinians feel powerless. They have no country, no government, no army and few resources - so they resort to bombing to make their point".
Sadly, these are but a few examples from many. For years, Islamist and Arabist groups have involved themselves in educational and social services, as terrorism expert Matthew Levitt notes, in order to "reshape the political consciousness of educated youth". Textbooks, designed to be sources of absolute fact, influence people of all ages and beliefs. The statements of government-approved educational textbooks do far more damage than the appeals of the street demagogue or the conspiracy theorist. Garnet Education chose to wipe Israel off the map. An entire nation was expunged. As a consequence, in the minds of the thousands of immigrants and foreign students learning English, there is no Jewish State; there is only "occupation". What would the British government say if Israel encouraged the use of a textbook that labeled the Falkland Islands as "occupied Argentina"? What would Britain say if a textbook were given to students across the world in which England, a sovereign nation, did not exist?