Israel replaced with Palestine on map in language class at SDSU

Community anger leads people to contact Team 10

SAN DIEGO - A map distributed in a language class at San Diego State University labeled Israel as Palestine, leading to an outcry from the local Jewish community.

Sources told Team 10 the map was handed out by a professor on the second day of class in an Arabic language course. Sources said students were upset and unsure how to protest the erroneous map because they feared speaking out publicly could have a negative impact on their grades.

One student talked with Team 10, on the condition of anonymity.

"I don't really believe it was the right place for dialogue," the student said. "It is a language class, it's not a class about conflict."

Students gave the map to the non-profit, pro-Israel San Diego group, "Stand With Us."

The group sent a newsletter to its members and urged the community to contact the department's chairman and Arabic program director. The group also posted the map to its Facebook page.

The electronic newsletter states the map "not only fails to label 'Israel' as a legitimate country," but that "it falsely portrays the entire territory of Israel as 'Palestine.'"

"I want to see an apology from the professor, and I want to see him to hand out a correct map," the student said.

Nicole Bernstein, of Stand With Us, questioned the department chair about the map, and she shared that response with Team 10.

The department chair said the professor used Palestine in place of Israel on the labels to "reflect the view of Arab-speakers in the region."

Also, the statement to the group said the language class professor intended 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."

Near the end of the reply to the group, it said the professor would "distribute a map that includes labels for members of the Arab League as well as Israel."

Team 10 contacted SDSU late Tuesday morning with questions about the handout, and on Tuesday afternoon the school issued this statement:

"While SDSU encourages scholarly debate and discussion of varying opinions, presenting inaccurate information to students in not acceptable. SDSU's Provost has conferred with the department chair, who spoke with the faculty member. This inaccurate portrayal will not reoccur."

Bernstein said despite how it happened, it should not happen again.

"Whether it was intentional or not intentional, whether it was part of course work or part of a plan, none of that context was given," Bernstein said. "That is what the problem was."

Students and the group still want an apology from the professor.

“Regardless of the views, there are false images and realistic images,” the anonymous student said. “Bringing his own bias to the classroom was just not o.k.”

The United States does not recognize Palestine as a sovereign nation.

(*Editor's note, on Wednesday, there was an updated story. Find it here. Mobile users: bit.ly/18TiN2G)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recently hosted a meeting in France related to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

A State Department news release on Sunday said Kerry gave an "update on the ongoing permanent status negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis and reiterated the United States' commitment to pursuing intensive negotiations to end the conflict through a permanent status agreement."

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