Sunday, February 22, 2009

Excuse Me, What Country Is This Again? (Or How Old Is This Globe?)

When I was at the International Book Fair last week, I saw this poster at the entrance:

Ad at the book fair

It looked nice enough... until I got closer and looked for Israel, which is so tiny that its name doesn’t even fit within its borders on the globe.

This is what I found:

Close-up of globe in book fair ad

Palestine? Say what?

Ummm... when exactly is this globe from? Before 1948, surely... but then, it doesn’t look old enough to be a collector’s item. Or was the advertising agency privy to some momentous news from the UN that, for some incredible reason, never reached the rest of the world?

When I called it to the attention of the company’s staff at the book fair, they dismissed my concerns politely, saying that they were not responsible. Of course they weren’t, but that wasn’t the point. Also, here in Israel, I have noticed that Hebrew-speakers sometimes don’t consider accuracy and availability in English all that important. Websites are a case in point: all too often, the Hebrew version is as complete as can be while the English one is barely functional.

But getting back to the matter at hand: I seem to remember a controversy several years ago over a globe-manufacturing company that refused (for completely innocent reasons, I’m sure) to include the name of Israel among the countries it depicted. Too bad that this bookseller’s marketing people didn’t look more closely at the ad before they approved it.

And since the book fair is over, what a shame that it’s too late to follow the excellent example of Treppenwitz and give them a call.

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