TEL AVIV – Algeria’s education ministry has ordered the immediate recall of elementary school geography textbooks after discovering that their maps of the Middle East show Israel instead of “Palestine.”
The “scandal” resulted in the Ministry of Education opening an investigation into the publisher of the book, the report said.
London-based Arab news site Asharq al-Awsat reported Saturday that the textbook had “labeled a map of Palestine as Israel.”
The incident caused an outcry in Algeria, with many calling on Education Minister Nouria Benghabrit to resign. Youssef Khababeh of Algeria’s Islamic Renaissance Movement party said the map “error” was tantamount to criminal activity. “The ministry abolished Palestine and replaced it with the Zionist entity in a school book,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
Benghabrit defended herself by blaming the publisher for the “mistake” and said her office had only approved a version of the book that did not include mention of Israel.
Director of the publishing house Hamidou Masudi apologized “for offending the Algerians’ sensitivities. This was a lapse and an unintentional mistake,” adding that deadline pressures caused the book’s designer to download a map from the internet on which the Jewish state was labeled as Israel.
Algeria’s Jewish community has no official figures but is said to be very small. In the 1950s, there were some 130,000 Jews in the country. Most left after war with France broke out. The rest were targeted by Islamists in the decade that followed.
Algeria has been ranked among the top five most anti-Semitic countries in the world.