Map of Israel, Middle East (illustration)
Map of Israel, Middle East (illustration) Thinkstock

One of the world's leading publishing houses has been forced to apologize for distributing atlases which literally erased Israel from the map.

HarperCollins had been distributing the atlases via its subsidiary Collins Bartholomew, which specializes in maps, throughout Arab countries in the Middle East, depicting Jordan and Syria extending all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. 

Collins Bartholomew claimed the redrawing of borders was done in order to incorporate "local preferences," and more specifically that their customers in the Gulf States where the maps are sold would find the inclusion of Israel "unacceptable."

But HarperCollins was harshly condemned for the move by The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, with Bishop Declan Lang of the Conference's Department of International Affairs stating that "the publication of this atlas will confirm Israel’s belief that there exists a hostility towards their country from parts of the Arab world."

"It will not help to build up a spirit of trust leading to peaceful co-existence," added Lang.

On Thursday, HarperCollins issued a public apology.

"HarperCollins regrets the omission of the name Israel from their Collins Middle East Atlas," read the statement. "This product has now been removed from sale in all territories and all remaining stock will be pulped. HarperCollins sincerely apologises for this omission and for any offence caused."

It is not clear how the company will seek to cater the new version to "local preferences."

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