The politics of Mideast geography

Sir - Freidberg and Yarom's reference in Correspondence (Nature 418, 583,

2002) to problems concerning spelling of locality names ("Arabic, Hebrew,

and English") and to a "Fauna Palaestina" map obfuscates the issue raised by

my letter (Nature 417, 379, 2002), which was never about consistency or

spelling of names. [As they know, my MS used the Israeli spelling for all

low level locality names.] The small-scale map found in the volumes of the

"Fauna Palaestina" book series and delineating 23 biogeographical "[r]egions

in Israel and nearby areas", is utterly useless for assigning localities to

the various regions, and the IJE itself does not use any of them when

listing localities. On the contrary, the journal (e.g. IJE 23:61-112)

assigns West Bank localities (e.g. Jericho, Qalya, Enot Zuqim, Nahal Tirza)

and Golan Height localities (e.g. Panyas, Mount Hermon, even Har Dov [=

Sheeba Farms]) flatly and directly to Israel, without ever employing the the

words "West Bank" or "Golan Heights" or any of the numbered regions from

the "Fauna Palaestina" map. The West Bank and Golan Heights are not Israeli

territories by international law. To decide otherwise is clearly a private

political decision on the part of the persons responsible for the Israel

Journal of Entomology. No harm would be done to science (or consistency) by

allowing contributors to use their own choice of names for geographical

regions, if in standard use, a practice followed by e.g. Nature (Editor,

Correspondence, Nature 418, 273, 2002). Clearly, West Bank, Golan Heights,

Gaza Strip are geographical terms in standard use, even in Israeli media.


Knut Rognes

Stavanger University College, P.O.Box 8002, N-4068 Stavanger, Norway