Family & Education

Board of Deputies calls for rewrite of school textbook on Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Board has concerns over 'one-sided' coverage in Edexcel international GCSE book


The Board of Deputies has called for the “substantial rewrite” of a school history textbook on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Its publishers Pearson are already carrying out a review into the book, Conflict, Crisis and Change: the Middle East, 1917-2012, which covers an option in the Edexcel international GCSE history course, following a critical report by the pro-Israel blogger and researcher David Collier.

Mr Collier, whose analysis was commissioned by the Zionist Federation, described the book as “poisonous… hard-core anti-Zionist revisionist material”.

In a letter to Pearson, which owns the Edexcel exam board, the Board’s chief executive Gillian Merron said there were “serious concerns regarding inaccurate content, selectivity around historical events… imbalanced imagery and problematic terminology”.

Taken together, it gave the book “an unacceptable slant, which amounts to bias,” she said.

Among issues highlighted by the Board was “one-sided” coverage of the perpetrators of violence, with “insufficient reference to terrorist organisations” such as Hamas which killed Israelis.

The exodus of Jews from Arab lands after the creation of the state of Israel had been ignored, the Board said.

Pearson’s review also covers a similar textbook, written by the same author Hilary Brash, which is used for its domestic GCSE history unit on the conflict.

A spokesman for Pearson said they did “not follow any ideological agenda and always aim to present impartial, objective content. Inevitably when difficult issues such as this are addressed, it is likely to generate debate.”

Edexcel, he noted, was “the only awarding body that tackles this subject matter and we do it as we think it is an important topic, even though it is likely to provoke emotive responses”.

The Middle East option was taken by 1,509 iGCSE students and 2,341 GCSE students in this year’s exams.

The domestic GCSE unit on the Middle East covers a narrower period than its international equivalent, spanning the end of the Second World War in 1945 to the second Oslo peace accord in 1995.

In the UK, iGCSEs are mainly taken in public schools because they are not recognised for the purpose of official league tables.


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