International publisher Pearson halted the distribution of two textbooks on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict used by GCSE students after an academic report found them to be "dangerously misleading".
The report by Professors John Chalcraft and James Dickins, specialists in history and Arabic in the Middle East and members of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) found that hundreds of changes were made to the textbooks.
"For the most part, the changes made to these texts add to or replace statements, information and interpretations that favor an Israeli narrative, and remove or replace those that support Palestinian narratives," said Prof. Charlcraft. "The overall effect is that these books become dangerously misleading."
Changes to the GCSE textbooks entitled Middle East conflict and The Middle East: Conflict, Crisis and Change, were made last year following calls for change by the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
The National Education Union (NEU) executive has expressed concern about the results of the report and said it will contact Pearson for clarification.
In a statement, Pearson said: “Our central editorial principle is to support the teaching of this important period in Middle Eastern history in a fair, neutral and balanced manner.
“We welcome feedback, but we have robust processes for reviewing feedback. This is especially important for such a sensitive period in history.
“We commissioned an independent review of these books last year, and the changes we made were based on the outcome of that review.
"We stand by our texts, but had already made the decision to stop further dissemination while we continue to discuss with stakeholders."
The publisher has requested this The independent one did not report the name of the author who wrote the textbooks. It was said that they had received "aggressive approaches" on the subject.
It is unclear whether the author agreed to the changes and The independent one asked Pearson for clarification.
The eight-page report by Prof. Chalcraft and Prof. Dickins found that an average of three changes were made per page.
One important change is the way the textbooks describe acts of violence and those who committed them, removing or mitigating references to Jewish or Israeli violence and aggression, while “systematically adding or intensifying” references to Arab or Palestinian violence or aggression.
The report found that the original version contained 10 references to Jewish terrorism and 32 references to Palestinian terrorism, while, after revision, there were four references to terrorism by Jewish groups and 61 to Palestinian groups
Eugene Rogan, Professor of Modern Middle Eastern History at Oxford University, commented on the report: “Given Britain's historical responsibility, it is particularly important that the subject is taught in an impartial and objective manner.
“It is a betrayal of this objectivity to give Israel supporters the opportunity to edit teaching materials without giving Palestine supporters the same opportunity to contribute. The result can only undermine confidence in the impartiality of conveying an extremely complex and sensitive issue. "