The Australian stationery chain Typo has inadvertently waded into one of the world’s thorniest political conflicts, pulling a line of globes that named Palestine but omitted to label Israel.
The design choice, which saw Israel and 12 other countries represented by a number on the map, corresponding to a legend at the base of the globe, prompted threats of boycott and charges of anti-Semitism by supporters of the Jewish state.
The decision to halt production of the globes led to similar threats by Palestine advocates.
Issues with the original design were first pointed out on 21 January by a flurry of customers on the store’s Facebook page, including one who asked why Typo was selling a globe “that has wiped Israel from the face of the earth”.
Typo said in response the design – a Mercator projection from around 1860 – was “an official map from an international body that has been approved for export” and Israel’s label had been omitted “purely because there wasn’t enough space to include the name”.
Two hours later the chain said it had “decided to remove the globes from sale in-store and online and will halt all future production”.
This decision in turn drew complaints from supporters of Palestine, who have peppered the store’s social media accounts with complaints and threats of boycott.
The ensuing anger bled over into otherwise uncontroversial posts on the company’s Facebook page, including one advertising a travel bag with the tagline, “I just took the road less travelled … And now I’m lost!”
Among the replies were: “Could you be lost because you don’t know how to use a map. Use the correct one with Palestine and it will help!”
“The road less travelled is one that DOESN’T bow down to Zionist sentiment,” another user said.
(The map also omitted the former Yugoslavian republic of Macedonia, prompting one user to ask: “What is your political agenda Typo?”)
The company, part of the Cotton On Group, tried to stem the damage on Monday, writing on its Facebook page that new globes would be manufactured labelling every country.
“Typo is not removing any country from the globe. We made the decision to recall the current globes from sale as we are sourcing new artwork from our supplier that has every country marked on it but with no need for a key. All countries will remain on the map, the key will not,” it said.
“We never intended to offend anyone with this product.”
Among other errors the map labelled the Caspian Sea twice and misspelled the name of the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan.