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October 2016

Textbook’s ‘Palestinian’ comment causes furore

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technology war and indpendence OUP fair dealing under copyright act 1988 front cover image for purposes of critique or review

A history textbook for use in British schools and adopted by some Middle Eastern English-medium international schools caused a furore for its comments on Palestinians in its ‘What is “terrorism?”’ section. Technology, War and Independence for the UK Key Stage 3 curriculum (11-14 years), includes a ‘Suicide Bomb’ paragraph, which ends with the words ‘Palestinian terrorists are well known for this.'

In October, photos of this passage were distributed on social media by parents in Jordan, Qatar, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, according to a source contacting the Gazette. Parents reportedly found the comments ‘deeply hurtful’ to the many Palestinian children living in other Arab countries.

The prestigious Choueifat international school chain withdrew the textbook from its branches across the United Arab Emirates (UAE), after which the UAE Ministry of Education recalled Technology, War… from schools it supervised.

The textbook is published by Oxford University Press. Dan Selinger, Oxford Education head of communications, told the Gazette ‘the complaints… are the first we have seen since the book was first published in 2004’ and that OUP ‘regret any offence that has been caused.’ OUP are ‘updating the title’ and will review the ‘terrorism’ section ‘to ensure it is accurate and culturally sensitive. Customers looking to return their titles should speak to their local bookshop.’ For more on the controversy around the textbook’s comment on Palestinians, see http://gulfnews.com/news/uae/education/uae-school-withdraws-textbook-portraying-palestinians-as-terrorists-1.1907557.

Pic: Technology War and independence by Aaron Wilkes, 2015 edition, OUP. (Fair dealing under the Copyright Act 1988: front cover image for the purposes of a critique or review)

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