Following Editorial Board Recommendation, Gale to Eliminate Biased “Zionism” Article from Encyclopedia

Just over a year ago, CAMERA published a detailed critique of The Encyclopedia of Race and Racism article about Zionism. The entry was written by Noel Ignatiev, a radical professor and activist whose “credentials” on the topic include polemics, posted on fringe Web sites, describing Palestinians who murder Jews as “patriots,” calling Israel “Hitlerite,” and insisting that Zionism is racist and Israel should be eliminated.

Late last week, the publisher of the encyclopedia informed CAMERA that the article will be eliminated, in line with the recommendations of an independent review produced by a board of historians, economists, sociologists, cultural anthropologists and biologists from academic institutions in the U.S. and abroad.

This is good news for anyone who cares about factual accuracy and scholarship. It is outrageous that an anti-Zionist extremist was chosen by a respected publisher — Gale, a Cengage Learning company — to teach students, educators and the rest of the world about Zionism and Israeli history. And it was inevitable that the resulting article would be marred, from start to finish, by egregious errors and inflammatory distortions.
In a letter sent to Gale last year, CAMERA explained that Zionism, the national movement of the Jewish people, does not belong in an encyclopedia dealing with race and racism as is neither race-based nor racist; denounced the editors’ judgment in commissioning a biased partisan to write about Zionism and Israel; pointed out that the encyclopedia’s discussion of only Jewish nationalism, and no other type, represented a disturbing double standard; and provided the publisher with an extensive list of falsehoods and wild distortions in the text that should have disqualified the article. Other organizations, including the American Jewish Committee, the Zionist Organization of America and the Anti-Defamation League, contacted the publisher with similar concerns.

Gale subsequently announced it would be commissioning an independent board to examine “the factual accuracy, scholarly basis, coverage, scope, and balance of every article” in the encyclopedia in order to address concerns about the Zionism article.

A Gale executive explained that the independent review

recommended an expansion of the work in terms of the geographic regions and time periods covered. It has determined to exclude a number of articles that do not meet this broadened scope, and has named new topics to be covered in completely new material, as well in as revisions to some existing articles. Among its recommendations is to eliminate the Ignatiev piece from the new edition…. (Emphasis added)

It is commendable that the publisher ensured the scholarly integrity of its publications by effectively addressed its initial mistake.

Among the patent falsehoods in Ignatiev’s article are the following claims:
  • “The expulsion of Palestinians from the West Bank continues without interruption,” and the West Bank is close to being empty of Arabs.
  • “Jordan, Egypt and four other Arab states … accepted the partition of Palestine” before the 1948 war.
  • “Even after the rise of Hitler, Jews in Europe did not choose Palestine. Out of 2.5 million Jews who fled Europe between 1935 and 1943, scarcely 8.5 percent, about 200,000 persons, went to Palestine. Almost two million went to the Soviet Union…”

You can find CAMERA’s rebuttal to these and numerous other distortions on our Web site here.

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