Maps: Artificial notions

Maps. Such a minor yet controversial issue. Something we see every day but never really dwell them for too long. Yet they have detrimental effect on our political world outlook. They represent the political boundaries in which the international community plays, the history of our warfare and colonisation and the collective of diverse people into states. Supposedly.

Yes, those zigzagging lines do also represent nations. Nations. A delightful by-product product of the 19th century in which people with a shared sense of cultural heritage and values bound themselves together to form these social structures. As the 19th century progressed into the 20th century the map of nations changed, shifting to reflect the political realities on the ground. When the First World War ended the Ottoman Empire which had been one of the main Imperial fixtures of on the 19th century map drawn over to form new countries. Again the map change the end of the Second World War creating and dissolving countries on the map and even since then nations have come and gone. In 2011 the world map added South and North Sudan to it.

The maps we used in our homes, schools and workplaces are impermanent structures which must reflect the ever-changing the political reality in which we live in. Though the situation within Ukraine is less than politically certain the fact that Google maps has taken to creating a “border” which divides Crimea from Ukraine shows that maps of are politically fluid notion of political relations and have a detrimental effect on our perception of the world. None so much as in the education were we learn the norms and values of our society as well as knowledge we will need to become employable. Especially when you’re educating about complex and difficult subject. Namely the Arab- Israel conflict.

Though there are many persuasions of political orientation or belief concerning conflict, maps are used to illustrate the complex issues or emphasize a certain point. Therefore it is vital that you that educating conflict or using a map which reflects the current political situation.

This was the main bone of contention 16 students and young members from across the British Jewish community launched the Sign on the Greenline campaign in February of this year. The campaign is asking for all British Jewish institutions especially schools and youth organizations to only use maps which show the 1949 armistice lines  (or Greenlines) on the maps in which they use. The reasoning behind this is that we feel that as a community we could be providing better Israel education by using maps which have these lines on it. Maps which show the Greenline reflect a more realistic image of the situation on the ground thus enabling us to inform the children which we teach about the various arguments and controversial issues surrounding the Arab-Israeli conflict. Maps affect our perspective of political and legal boundaries, so accurate maps are vital to a well-informed view of the conflict within our communities Israel education.

Though we’ve met by a view loud scaremongering establishment types fixating on our age not our ideas, our resolve to educate the next round of our community leaders with integrity and responsibility is strong. As the ever wise Dr Seuss wrote in The Lorax: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

By Jessica Weiss

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