The American Jewish Committee strongly
criticized a leading academic publisher for its decision to retain an article
vilifying Zionism in an encyclopedia dealing with racism.
The Encyclopedia of Race and Racism, published in 2008 by Macmillan Reference USA,
a part of Gale, Cengage Learning, contains an article on "Zionism" by Noel
Ignatiev, a bitter opponent of Israel. The article misrepresents Zionism as an
"ideology of race" and scandalously promotes the canard of Zionist-Nazi
"collaboration" during the Second World War.
AJC vigorously protested the article at the time of its publication and convened a
meeting with Gale executives, including executive vice president and publisher
Frank Menchaca, urging them to withdraw Ignatiev's entry.
"Gale's formula makes a bad situation worse," said AJC Executive Director David
Harris. "Instead of removing Ignatiev's article, Gale has sought to balance it with
a contribution from a much more reputable, informed scholar. This is akin to
balancing an article by a historian about the 9/11 atrocities with one from a
conspiracy theorist. The two views do not carry equal weight and it is grossly
irresponsible to suggest that they do."
Harris acknowledged that some of the changes to the Encyclopedia initiated by Gale
in response to the concerns expressed by AJC and others -- as well as the second
article on Zionism, there is a new section on nationalism -- "reflect a welcome
awareness on the part of the publisher that there was something sorely wrong with
the original contribution." However, Harris reiterated AJC's objection to the
decision to assign "Zionism" as a separate entry.
"When we spoke to Gale directly, we made clear our objection to depicting the
Jewish form of nationalism as a racial ideology, in an encyclopedia which deals
with racism," Harris said. "We urge Gale to rectify the original error by removing
Ignatiev's contribution. As long as it remains, the scholarly integrity of the
Encyclopedia of Race and Racism and its usefulness in helping students understand
bigotry will be open to doubt."
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