Merriam-Webster Removes Israel from Examples of Apartheid

Merriam-Webster said the Israel example was the result of an automated program.
August 25, 2020
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary removed Israel from its list of examples under the dictionary’s definition of apartheid.

The Jerusalem Post reported on Aug. 25 that the dictionary cited as a recent example of apartheid the following excerpt from an Aug. 7 Minneapolis Star Tribune op-ed: “As Israel prepares to formally annex the most fertile, most water-rich third of the Palestinian West Bank, will America continue to enable Israeli apartheid and the Hundred Years’ War on Palestine?”

After a reader complained about it, Merriam-Webster correspondence coordinator Carolyn Polis told the reader the example was removed and that the example slipped in as part of an automated program.

“It is, of course, never our intention to provide example sentences that may be offensive or inappropriate to any of our readers, and we do our best to remove those example sentences immediately when they are noticed or brought to our attention,” Polis wrote to the reader. “We appreciate you reaching out to us and helping us ensure that our information is as accurate and useful as possible.”

Honest Reporting Canada tweeted, “We are glad to see the Merriam Webster took action and removed this inaccurate example.”


On the other hand, the Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU), a pro-Palestinian organization, tweeted: “Why did Merriam Webster dictionary remove a reference to Israel under the definition of apartheid? What rights you have under Israeli rule are determined by whether you are Jewish or Palestinian. There’s a dictionary word for that: Apartheid.”


Hana Levi Julian wrote in the Jewish Press that it was inaccurate to call Israel an apartheid state, noting that “it is currently illegal in the Palestinian Authority to sell land to Jews. That’s a perfect example of apartheid in Palestine. In contrast, in areas where Jews are in control, there are Jews, Arabs, Druze, Bedouin, Christians and everyone else shopping together, going to supermarkets, medical clinics, malls and toy stores together, in hospitals together and working together — in short, living together in the State of Israel and in the territories as well.”

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