During Passover break, I decided it was as good a time as any to start studying for my upcoming AP World History exam, so I dragged out my set of Barron’s flash cards to help me review my class material. After about 20 minutes of flipping through various topics, I picked up a card about “The Hebrews.” Intrigued, I took a closer look at what the card said—“About 1300 B.C.E, led by Moses, went to Palestine, where they established a kingdom, under David and Solomon.”
After reading the card, I was confused. Although I am sure most people would be able to spot this error, going to a Jewish Day School, I saw it instantaneously. The card says Palestine, but Palestine didn’t exist then, and wouldn’t even exist for another thousand years (Palestine was created 1500 years after the time the card is referring to). The Romans created the Palestine “state” after conquering Judea in order to antagonize the local inhabitants. The Romans often named conquered states after their rivals, so they decided to call the land Judea Palestine after the Phillistinians.
I then became angry—not only was the card factually incorrect, but it felt to me as though there was some kind of political agenda on the Israeli Palestinian conflict, with the intended message bending towards the Palestinian side. These flashcards are meant to be a review for the AP World History exam, helping students to learn the knowledge they need to succeed. There should be no biases on the material because it could lead students to have a misrepresented view of the Israeli Palestinian conflict, a complicated issue in which land is extremely important.
Upon recognizing the danger that the message posed and the lack of truthfulness to it, I decided to email the Barron company, explaining the error and why it is important to fix the mistake. I was surprised to receive a response within 12 hours of the sending of my email. The response is as follows:
I thought this would turn into a long, hard battle with Barron, but I am glad I was wrong in my prediction. Upon reading this email I felt absolutely thrilled and accomplished. I felt that I learned a valuable lesson from this experience—you don’t need to go out of your way to make a difference. All I planned on was studying for my AP exam, but when the opportunity arrived, I took it, made a difference and advocated on Israel’s behalf.
Eitan Kastner is a sophomore at Davis Renov Stahler Yeshiva High School for Boys in Woodmere, L.I. He is also a member of the Fresh Ink for Teens’ Editorial Board.