Autrey Mill Middle School is investigating to find who posted the map. But proponents say the map shows part of history.
The idea of the event was to have families come and share their stories in an effort to promote cultural understanding. However, several parents have since e-mailed 11Alive upset about a map of the Middle East taking a clear side on the longtime Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The map at the Autrey Mill Middle School event shows Palestine where present-day Israel should be. The conflict over the land goes back decades with both sides arguing over who owns rights to it. Several Israeli and Jewish parents said the map was highly offensive and brought it to the attention of the middle school principal.
A Fulton County Schools spokesperson said the map isn’t a regular display at the school and they’re investigating to see who put it there. In a full statement, the school system said:
“Fulton County Schools was made aware of an insensitive political and geographic display at Autrey Mill Middle School’s recent Multicultural Night. This event is hosted by families and staff with the intent of celebrating different cultures and nationalities. We condemn the negative and extreme political agendas these symbols represent. We are investigating this incident, and will take all necessary actions to find the individual(s) responsible and hold them accountable.”
Parents on map replacing Israel
Parents said Autrey Mill’s multicultural night is a celebration. But now they’re concerned children who saw the map will believe it shows the present-day Middle East.
They agreed to speak anonymously as their children still attend the school.
“Israel wasn’t mentioned on that map at all,” another student’s mother said. They basically wrote Palestine in the place of Israel. They, the Palestinians, talk about from the land to the sea, which means having all the Jews wiped away and the Palestinians on the land instead of the Jews.”
Those mothers also shared another image that shows a tapestry on display by the map depicting Handala – a young Palestinian boy living through the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Other images also show a separate table presenting Israel at the event with cultural pictures, food and books.
But the mothers said parents brought the map to the principal’s attention that night but it stayed up.
“Nobody in the school was going over the content of the materials that is being presented,” one of them said.
Principal responds to Palestine map
On Friday, Principal J.E. Trey Martin sent a letter to parents. He wrote that 500 peopled and more than 15 countries were represented. But he added that he was “extremely disappointed and disgusted with the individuals who presented an insensitive political and geographic representation” adding that “this display does not represent our school culture which is one that values inclusion and unity.”