A NEW Zealand government website has wiped Israel off the map.
It published a fact sheet with a map of the Middle East that showed a “Palestine”... but not Israel.
Following a barrage of complaints on social media, Immigration New Zealand — an official government website — , the web page was removed, though screenshots remain.
The Israel Institute of New Zealand had called for a retraction of the map.
“The most immediately obvious of the errors was a map labelling the whole of modern-day Israel as ‘Palestine,'” said the institute’s director, Ashley Church.
“This is incredibly offensive and the equivalent of New Zealand Immigration displaying a map of the UK which removed Scotland and Wales and referred to the entirety of the British Isles as England.”
The fact sheet, which offered information about Palestinian immigrants to New Zealand, also identified east Jerusalem as “the designated capital of the State of Palestine”.
There also was no mention of Palestinian terrorism, but information on the page said that Israel caused “massive repression of Palestinians” during the second intifada.
The web page also mentioned Israel’s “economic sanctions and a blockade on Hamas-controlled Gaza” with no further explanation.
“Our immigration minister needs to immediately apologise for the offending image and confirm that it does not reflect government policy,” Mr Church said.
“Immigration New Zealand needs to issue a statement confirming that the website does not represent the views of the ministry.
“And an investigation needs to be undertaken to find out who was responsible and to put in place measures to ensure that this does not happen again.”
He describes the document as ‘worthy of the best and most dishonest efforts of some of the more extremist anti-Israel groups in the country” and said it had no place on a New Zealand government website.
“Immigration New Zealand is a Government Agency which projects a view of New Zealand to the world,” he went on.
“It is completely unacceptable for them to publish an image that erases Israel from the map. Who wrote it? Who approved it? Where were the checks and balances that should have prevented this scurrilous exercise in fiction and propaganda?
“It is alarming and embarrassing that information provided by a New Zealand government department can be both wildly inaccurate and so heavily politicised.”
Mr Church said that he did not accept that the information on the site was the result of an accident or human error.
“Anyone with the most basic understanding of the geography should have realised that the area marked ‘Palestine’ is actually Israel,” he added.
“That the error was printed in a ‘fact sheet’ on the topic means it was no accident.
“What we now need to know is whether it was an activist on the staff of Immigration NZ seeking to erase Israel – or whether it was sanctioned by senior ministry officials.
“Either way, the issue highlights gross deficiencies in the editorial process of a New Zealand government office.”.
Mr Church said it was now necessaryto avoid any damage to the relationship between Israel and New Zealand.
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