'Anti-Israel' A-Level textbook slammed

By Jessica Elgot, June 17, 2010
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Students are lobbying to change an A-Level geography textbook which makes anti-Israeli statements.

The 2009 edition of AQA's geography A2 textbook, by John Smith and Roger Knill, compares Israel's security barrier to the Berlin Wall and says it is the new "symbol of a divided world".

King David Manchester student Adi Manning, 17, has a petition signed by students, head of governors Joshua Rowe, head teacher Brian Levy and pro-Israel student group, the Institute for Middle East Democracy.

The textbook says Israel's "stated reason" for building the wall was to prevent bombings, but that it "severely restricts the movements of civilians, most of whom are not bombers."

It also calls the barrier "surreptitious expansion" by Israel. The textbook offers an explanation for Palestinian suicide bombers - "They have no government, no country, no army and few resources - so they resort to bombing to make their point."

Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies, said: "Exam boards and publishers must take seriously their responsibility for ensuring the delivery of impartial material no matter what the subject."

Joshua Rowe said: "I'm delighted a senior student has taken this initiative. So much of the antagonism over Israel is born of ignorance. It is the standard narrative - to be anti-Israel. AQA should change the text immediately."

A spokesman for AQA said: "The aim of the textbook is to provide a balanced account of what we know is a sensitive area to many different communities. We are confident that we have achieved this balance."

Last updated: 3:02pm, June 17 2010