In March 2016, executives at the McGraw-Hill textbook publishing company removed a title from its selection titled Global Politics: Engaging a Complex World. The company, in well- disciplined commissar fashion, destroyed the books held in inventory because they featured a map illustrating “Palestinian loss of land from 1946 to 2000.” Apparently, the maps say too much about the US-supported Israeli occupation and expansion of settlements in Palestine and run the risk of corrupting young learners. On the market since 2012, Global Politics was designed to “offer students a number of lenses through which to view the world around them.”
On behalf of Truthout, I asked Middle East historian and retired professor of history Lawrence Davidson to discuss this matter within a broader context of ideological control over educational materials. Davidson is the author of Cultural Genocide, Islamic Fundamentalism, and America’s Palestine, as well as other books and articles pertaining to history and political culture in the United States and the Middle East.
Dan Falcone: I wanted to start by addressing this question you raise about the framing of educational topics. You write, “What is the difference between a textbook publisher giving into pressure from Christian fundamentalists seeking to censor the teaching of evolution, and a publisher giving in to Zionists seeking to censor awareness of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine?” In short, you provided a simple answer: nothing. Can you talk a bit about the political backdrops connecting these denials of fact?
Lawrence Davidson: The first thing that must be faced is that book publishers are profit-making companies as well as economic organizations integrated into the culture of their environments. Censorship for the sake of maintaining a market and thereby making a profit is acceptable for economic reasons. Probably, many of the publishing house…