An Arabic-language professor at San Diego State University was disciplined by university administration after distributing a map of the Middle East to his students that neglected to acknowledge the existence of Israel.
Ghassan Zakaria, who teaches Arabic 101 at the university, gave his students a map on the second day of class that included neighboring Middle Eastern states but simply read “Palestine” in the disputed area of Israel-Palestine. Zakaria’s justification for the map is that native speakers of Arabic would describe the area as “Palestine” rather than as “Israel.”
Many Arabic-speaking nations have strained relations with Israel, although the relationships widely vary from country to country. The United States, however, does not officially recognize the existence of Palestine as a sovereign state.
Students, along with the support of pro-Israel group StandWithUS, voiced their concerns to university administration. The institution responded to student complaints by privately discussing the incident with Zakaria.
“While SDSU encourages scholarly debate and discussion of varying opinions, presenting inaccurate information to students is not acceptable,” university administrators told KGTV last week. “SDSU’s Provost has conferred with the department chair, who spoke with the faculty member. This inaccurate portrayal will not reoccur.”
Zakaria was able to maintain his position as a professor at the university, and he continues to teach the Arabic 101 class in which he initially distributed the controversial map. Following SDSU’s statement, however, Zakaria redistributed a map to his class, this time with the word “Israel” hand drawn on the page next to the typed words “Palestinian Territories.” Zakaria also issued his class an apology for the initial map.
SDSU went a step further in its response to the incident, setting up “two scholarships in tandem with StandWithUs for the study of Judaism and for study abroad travel to Israel in response to the map controversy,” The Blaze reports.