On the second day of Arabic class, San Diego State University professor distributed a map that had omitted Israel and labeled the land mass where Israel is located as “Palestinian Territories.”
The professor, Ghassan Zakaria, then redistributed the exact same map after sloppily writing “Israel” and generally indicating where the country is, reports KGTV.
The ABC affiliate’s unnamed sources called Zakaria’s new map of the Middle East little better than the old one in the sense that it doesn’t convey Israel’s legitimacy as a sovereign political entity accurately.
Unidentified students had feared academic reprisals if they said anything about the map in class.
“I don’t really believe it was the right place for dialogue,” an anonymous student told KGTV in a prior report. “It is a language class. It’s not a class about conflict.”
Concerned students decided to forward the map to the local branch of a pro-Israeli group called “Stand With Us.”
Representatives of the group posted the map on its Facebook page and asked members to contact the taxypayer-funded university’s Arabic program director.
Zakaria has expressed regret to the class, notes KGTV. He has not issued any apology to anyone outside the class.
The program director — Ghada Osman (Ph.D., Harvard), according to SDSU’s website — told KGTV that Zakaria had handed out the Israel-less map to “reflect the view of Arab-speakers in the region.”
Israel is a nation roughly the size of New Jersey. It became independent in 1948. The United States officially recognized its existence in 1949. The United States does not recognize Palestine as a state. A number of other countries do recognize Palestine diplomatically.
A spokesman for San Diego State issued a statement siding fairly strongly with the upset students. “While SDSU encourages scholarly debate and discussion of varying opinions, presenting inaccurate information to students in [sic] not acceptable,” the statement said. “This inaccurate portrayal will not reoccur.”
At the website Rate My Professors, Zakaria gets almost universally outstanding reviews from past students.
Students generally call Zakaria “the best professor” at SDSU or at least among “the best professors on campus.”
“I’m a big, big fan. This guy freakin’ rocks,” gushes a student who admits to barely passing Zakaria’s class.
“This guy needs to be CLONED,” agrees still another student. “And he actually cares about your grade.”