(JNS.org) San Diego State University (SDSU) agreed to replace a map from an Arabic language course that excluded Israel and instead labeled all of the Jewish state’s territory as “Palestine.”
Several students, following the usage of the map in Professor Ghassan Zakaria’s Arabic 101 class, sought out the assistance of the pro-Israel education group StandWithUs.
“With no context given to the students about the map, no explanation, and no discussion to frame the reasons for why that particular map was being used—the students were unsure of how to handle the situation,” Nicole Bernstein, regional director of StandWithUs San Diego, wrote in an email.
Ghada Osman, chair of the SDSU Linguistics & Asian/Middle Eastern Languages department, eventually wrote to concerned community members that Zakaria would replace the map with one that identifies Israel.
“Prof. Zakaria explained [to me] that the reason that he utilized the label ‘Palestine’ was because this map was supposed to reflect the view of Arabic-speakers in the region,” Osman wrote. “After assigning the map, Prof. Zakaria’s aim was then to have students get into groups and research the political developments of each area on the map, with the assumption that this would lead to a discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the history of the state of Israel. After our conversation, Prof. Zakaria agreed that it would be more appropriate to discuss the context of the assignment at the outset. He will therefore explain the context and distribute a map that includes labels for members of the Arab League as well as Israel.”
“Israel” is hand-written into the course’s new map.
“We are especially appreciative and impressed by the university’s rapid response to concerns we expressed on behalf of students,” StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein said in a statement. “We only wish other universities were as responsive to student concerns.
StandWithUs also announced the formation of two new scholarship funds to expand its relationship with the university—the “Stand With Us-San Diego State Jewish Studies Scholarship” (supporting students enrolled in Jewish Studies courses) and the “Stand With Us-San Diego State Israel Study Abroad Scholarship.”