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Maps in Jordans children textbooks mark Israel ignore Palestine

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Maps placed in two textbooks provided to Jordanian school children and financed by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have stirred controversy in the kingdom because they illustrate Israel and fail to mention Jordan and Palestine.

The Jordanian education ministry distributed the textbooks for students in grades one through 12, which contained health-related contents.

The maps featured on some of the pages portrayed a crooked lesson in geography: while Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Iraq were all marked, Jordan and Palestine was left out. However, Jordanian cities, including the capital Amman, Irbid and Zarqa were marked.

“In effect, the exclusion of these names annexes Palestine to Jordan,” the West Bank Association said in a statement, according to Israel’s Ynetnews website. “Anyone who recognizes the Zionist entity eliminates Jordan and Palestine.”

According to the association, one of the textbooks that displayed the map cautioned students against smoking and also deals with topics like healthy eating habits. USAID financed the textbooks as part of a series.

“This step intentionally and offensively misleads children under the guise of imparting health awareness,” the group said.

The Jordanian Association reflected the sentiments that such omissions were intentional. The group against Zionist stance argued that the map marked Golan Heights as an occupied territory, but did not specify other occupied regions- referring to Palestine-indicates the act was not unintentional.

The group called on all teachers to refuse to distribute the books, and “warn the students about the dangers that they contain.”

The inclusion of the Israeli map in school textbooks infuriated other professional groups across the country; pointing “new terms” that Jordanians oppose were penetrating in school books.

The chairman of the Jordanian agronomists’ association, Mahmoud Abu Ghanima, was quoted by Ynetnews as saying that the books should be pulled out, and those who helped distribute them should be indicted.

In an interview with the Ad-Dustour newspaper, the chairman of the teachers’ association, Mustafa Rawashdeh, further called for the indictment of those responsible for the mishap.

The education ministry, in turn, told the newspaper it has established a committee to probe the allegations.

However, retired army colonel and Director General and Founder of the Horizon Center for Studies and Research in Amman, Dr. Rateb Amro said that he believed that there is no tension between Jordan and Israel and the relationship of the two is at good terms, Israeli Ynet.com online reported on Sep.14.