How British pro-Israel groups are rewriting Middle East history textbooks

Top UK publishing company withdraws new school books after study finds that the revised materials are ‘emphatically pro-Israel’.

A withdrawn Pearson textbook

Aron Keller reports in +972:

For the second time in two years, a major international education company has withdrawn two British school textbooks on Middle East history, in response to accusations of bias regarding their Israel-Palestine content. Pearson, which also oversees national exams for 14- to 16-year-olds in the U.K., announced the decision on June 8 after an independent review by two British academics found “dangerously misleading” pro-Israel bias in the books.

The content in question was added to the textbooks in apparent consultation with British pro-Israel groups after they claimed the materials contained anti-Israel bias, echoing charges leveled at books used in the Palestinian school curriculum, and reflecting intensifying global efforts to remove content deemed critical of Israel from widely-used educational materials.

Pearson initially withdrew the textbooks in October 2019, in response to a petition by the U.K.’s Zionist Federation, citing a review commissioned by UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) that labelled them “anti-Israel propaganda.” U.K. Jewry’s largest communal representative body, the Board of Deputies, joined in the chorus, demanding a “substantial rewrite” of the textbooks, which, it claimed, contained “insufficient reference to terrorist organisations” like Hamas, among other things.

Under pressure, Pearson ordered an independent review of the textbooks “The Middle East: Conflict, Crisis and Change, 1917-2012” and “Conflict in the Middle East, c1945-1995,” both authored by Hilary Brash. The review, conducted by educational organization Parallel Histories, determined there was “no overall evidence of anti-Israel bias” but did identify “some areas where the balance of sources could be improved.”

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