German globe maker 'establishes' Palestine

Mistaken labelling on educational toy stirs world of protest locally.

By MATT ZALEN
November 20, 2006 00:22
2 minute read.
German globe maker 'establishes' Palestine

mislabeled map 298.88. (photo credit: Courtesy Photo)

Pro-Israel advocacy groups campaign around the globe against the use of the word Palestine, since no such country exists, but it turns out that globes being sold in Israel bear the term. Billed as an educational toy that teaches young children geography, the widely sold "Ravensburger Puzzle Ball Classic Globe" includes both Israel and Palestine. Although the product has been on the market for more than two years, all of those contacted by The Jerusalem Post, from toy store owners to the Israeli distributor to the German manufacturer, reacted with surprise when informed of the imaginative geography. "The first time I learned about this issue was when [the Post] told me," said Hermann Bruns, an export manager for the manufacturer in Ravensburg, Germany. He said the design for the map was bought from a Chinese company, and that Ravensburger was only responsible for repackaging it. Demands to change the design have been quick to follow discovery of the error, with those involved in distribution and sales of the globe in Israel saying they have appealed directly to Ravensburger. "I was very, very angry when I found out about this," said Meir Klughaft, CEO of Saheknu, which imports the puzzle globe. "I personally asked [Ravensburger] to change the product, and to remove the word Palestine and leave only Israel. They promised me in a letter that they would." Store owners such as Arieh Margaliot, owner of Jerusalem's Rosenfeld's Toys, also joined the fray. "I told him I wasn't happy," Margaliot said, referring to a meeting he had with Bruns last week. "And I said that a puzzle of the Kotel should be the next product that they make." Ravensburger said it was taking these concerns very seriously. While Bruns said there were no plans to recall the globes already on the market, the next version would be designed by a different globe manufacturer, and that it would not show a Palestinian state. "I sat down with the Research and Development team and expressed my concern," said Bruns. "The new puzzle map will come from the leading globe manufacturer in the world, and not from our Chinese licensor." Not everybody is happy with the German toy company's willingness to change its design. "I will be sending [Ravensburger] a very nasty letter, and I will tell all my Israeli and Palestinian friends to do the same," said Sa'ad Khatib, the trade policy adviser for PalTrade, a Palestinian private sector trade promotion organization. "Why keep denying the inevitable? Everybody knows that someday very soon there will be a state of Palestine," Khatib said. Toy and decorative globes either omitting the State of Israel or including a state of Palestine are nothing new. According to the Anti-Defamation League, the last occurrence was in 2002 when a product called the "Geo Genius World Globe" included Palestine, but no Israel. After being contacted by ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman, the retailer promised to rectify the error immediately. However, the ADL spokesman has never seen a case of mislabeled globes in Israel. "In Israel it's a bit bizarre for me to be discussing this," said Arieh O'Sullivan, director of communications at the Anti-Defamation League Israel office.


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