Recently the Times of Israel published an excellent article on Harper-Collins UK’s attempt to market a falsified and unethical map book on the Middle East. I was a professional librarian in several capacities would like to offer a personal observation on on the recent attempts to “censor” books that have some type of association with Israel.
“Harper-Collins regrets the omission of the name Israel from their Collins Middle East Atlas. This product has now been removed from sale in all territories and all remaining stock will be pulped. Harper-Collins sincerely apologizes for this omission and for any offense caused.” (Sure. You got caught. )This December 31, 2014 posting on Harper-Collins, UK Facebook page did more than apologize; it opened a door into a more sinister world of subtle anti-Semitism disguised as marketing.
I worked as a librarian for 20 years and served in the inter-computer period. We placed great importance on high quality, authoritative reference and other print materials for our collections. Budgets were large and costs were high. We trusted the publishers. We can no longer do this.
Recently some well known brands have succumbed to “we can get away with anything” syndrome. This syndrome is dependent on a general public that gets its “info-tainment” from anchors, media personalities and others who do not perform due diligence, investigative journalism or even fact check their fables. Most educational systems are more prone to political correctness than accuracy, truth and other inconvenient elements that upset someone somewhere who has an excellent lawyer and a budget to spend on propaganda. The baby boomers who went AWOL from education in the 60’s and ’70’s bear much of the blame because now they are teaching in schools, universities and have an opportunity to place their skewed values on a younger and poorly educated generation. Slanting reference books is very effective. Hence Sears Roebuck, the mail order doyen of the mercantile world allowed a third party vendor to post swastika rings on their page. Educated and alert observers called them on it and the ad and vendor were soon removed. The big box store issued limp Facebook explanations saying how they understood the “frustration” felt by those who complained online. Frustration is a politically correct term for just plain mad.
Now Oxford University Press, UK has updated its authors’ guidelines for children’s’ books (not its academic and reference materials). Stating that prospective authors need to take into consideration the cultural background of the many nations served by Oxford they offer an excuse for what is genuine censorship. This is being interpreted as no references to pigs, pork or otherwise porcine subject matter. Their inference is that they do not wish to offend the cultural sensibilities of Jewish or Muslim purchasers. Perhaps this means that pigs do not exist in nature or at least in the Middle East. Also the things prohibited as food in Torah no longer include pigs since any children’s materials to be sold to Jewish children cannot refer to pigs or pork. The possibilities are somewhat endless aren’t they?
What is happening here runs deep. Anti-Semitic and anti-Israel marketing practices are becoming more noticeable. Openly Nazi items, maps that revoke the legal UN-voted existence of Israel and the refusal to admit the existence of an animal recognizable to most civilized nations are being marketed. Why? For one, marketing departments chief goal is to sell the product. The Brand is usually unassailable and thought to withstand occasional errors or miscalculations in audience appeal (re: “New” Coke, Edsel automobile, etc.). Today’s marketing has web based tools that can make a product’s promotion go viral. The internet has moved decision making into a fight or flee situation as competitors appear rapidly in the global market. Capturing and retaining market share is now a 24/7/365 battle. Unfortunately it also works against the Brand when an astute audience catches someone in the act of duality.
As a librarian who successfully managed large purchasing budgets in reference materials, the dominance of certain publishers based on reputation carried weight in my purchasing decisions. To see Harper-Collins and Oxford betray that hard fought reputation and arouse my distrust is a critical factor in my purchasing criteria. If in order to sell to one customer altering facts and history by elimination of a sovereign State that has existed since 1948 is a decision made by a publisher, how can I be sure that they have not applied the same criteria to other publications? Can I trust you Harper-Collins and Oxford? If you market Swastika rings to buyers on your web page, Sears, what else is on sale?
Perhaps the most troubling issue is that at least two generations have not been educated in the obscenity of The Holocaust. I must confess now that I am no longer working as a librarian, that at least one book authored by a Holocaust-denier “disappeared” from the library by an alleged perpetrator known only to yours truly. Nature abhors a vacuum and so does the human intellect. Anti-Semitism and its close ally anti-Israeli activity fill the space where a lesson or curriculum on the Holocaust and the re-birth of Israel have been removed. I am quite sure that the academics and their students who urge boycotts, demonstrate in Hamas scarfs and Palestinian flags on campus when they should be studying and learning and not cutting class instead are vacuum cleaned and filled with ignorance. And to make it worse, many of the academics are highly paid, tenured and privileged types.
So far the anti-Semitic marketing has been caught by alert and conscientious sources and alternative media. This battle will go on until the world once again forces itself to study and mourn over the organized slaughter of over 6 million Jews and millions of other Nazi-declared “untermenschen” which would have included most of us, yours truly included.
Catching the perpetrators in the act of making anti-Semitism and Nazi concepts “marketable” to a generation of those who never considered then horrors wrought by these fiends will be an ongoing battle. But it is a battle worthy of its warriors. “Once more into the breach….”. (Shakespeare…I looked it up)