Finnish matriculation exam used debunked Palestinian map

Materials apparently taken from pro-BDS, anti-Israel organisations were included in a Finnish high school history matriculation exam last September.

In particular, a widely used image amongst anti-Israel groups of four supposedly historical maps of Israel and Mandatory Palestine designed as an attempt to demonstrate the supposed seizure of private land from Palestinian Arabs by the Zionist movement and the State of Israel is used as the starting point for questions on the history of the region.

The image of the four maps has widely been debunked as misleading and deceptive, since it purposefully conflates private land ownership with political borders, and also conceals Arab land ownership within the modern State of Israel.

Nevertheless, the autumn examinations in the Finnish high school system presented the maps as factual, describing them as depicting “the Jewish and Palestinian settlements in Palestine in 1946, adding, the areas in green are Palestinian and the area in white is Jewish (since 1949 the State of Israel).”

The exam paper then posed a series of questions based on the misleading maps, including to “List the changes in the Palestinian Territory shown in the table and in the map series, and explain the reasons for the changes.”

Although at first glance the maps seem to indicate a massive appropriation of private Arab land by the Zionist movement and the State of Israel, the maps are a highly distorted and purposefully obscured representation of land ownership, demographics and political realities in the region.

The original provenance of the map is unclear, although it has been promoted by the UK-based Palestine Solidarity Campaign, whose representatives have met with Hamas officials in Gaza in the past, and were also on the Mavi Marmara ship that sought to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza.

Finnish MP Peter Östman of the centre-right Christian Democrats Party, together with Finland-Israel Friendship Association chairman Risto Huvila, recently submitted a letter to the government signed by ten MPs asking how the materials came to be included in a state exam.

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