A group of cross-party parliamentarians in the UK, have written to publisher Pearson about its school text books used by GCSE students on Israel-Palestine, urging them to be impartial, academic and transparent in the significant revisions made to the text books.
The letter, signed by Caabu (Council for Arab-British Understanding) Chair Rt Hon David Jones MP, former Education Minister Rt Hon Tessa Blackstone, Caabu board member Rt Hon Alistair Carmichael MP, Lord Bishop of Southwark Rt Rev Christopher Chessun, Caabu patron Rt Hon Lord Peter Hain, Education Select Committee member Kim Johnson MP, SNP Education Spoksperson Carol Monaghan MP and Vice Chair of the Britain-Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group, Andy Slaughter MP, highlights a report from two academics, John Chalcraft and James Dickins. More about their report can be found in the Independent and the Guardian. In the letter, the parliamentarians write:
“These revisions were made following interventions from the Board of Deputies and UK Lawyers for Israel. As the two academics point out, 294 alterations were consequently made in one of the texts, and more than 300 in the other. The report analyses this. It finds that the vast majority of these changes are in one direction, favouring an Israeli government narrative whilst downplaying the Palestinian experience. For example, the revised version questions whether annexing occupied territory is illegal or not. The international legal position on this, and indeed the long-term position of the British government and the International Court of Justice, is that any such annexation is illegal. This is why Britain determined the Russian annexation of Crimea was illegal.”
The letter concludes:
“We would also urge you to adopt a more impartial and academic approach to reviewing your materials. The involvement of two partial lobbying groups in this process behind the scenes raises significant and obvious concerns about possible undue influence. That is why we share the concern of the academics that this debate should be open, transparent and in the public domain.”