04:47 GMT12 April 2021
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    Youpi, a French magazine for children aged between eight and 10, was pulled from kiosks in France and Belgium Wednesday after complaints about a statement inside claiming Israel was "not a real country."

    "We call these 197 countries states, like France, Germany or Algeria," a comment in the magazine's January edition stated. "There are other ones but not everyone agrees they are real countries (for example the State of Israel and North Korea)."

    ​After being tipped off by readers, the federation of Jewish communities and organizations of France (CRIF) organized a protest against the magazine and called it a "factual lie and a flagrant one at that," the Jerusalem Post reported.

    Francis Kalifat, the head of CRIF, told AFP the comment was a "historical untruth" that the magazine was spreading. After learning of the statement, Kalifat contacted Bayard, the publisher of the magazine, to "demand they rectify it."

    The comments also drew the ire of Israel's ambassador to France, Aliza Bin Noun, who tweeted that she was "shocked."

    "Shocked by this lie taught to children," Noun wrote on Twitter. "Such rhetoric can only lead to anti-Zionism, inseparable from the anti-Semitism as has been pointed out by the French President #EmmanuelMacron."

    In response to the outrage, Bayard then released a statement that said the company "clearly never intended to cast into doubt Israel's existence," before writing off the incident as an "error."

    "We recognise our mistake, it was not well put and obviously we do not want to contest the existence of the state of Israel," Pascal Ruffenach, the magazine's managing director, told AFP. He later added that the recall was launched "voluntarily and in good faith because it is important to contribute to the spirit of calm."

    But the apology was not enough for CRIF, who also wanted the magazine to run a correction and an article explaining how Israel came to be in its next issue.

    It's unclear whether the magazine will address the issue in its next edition, but Ruffenach did indicate that Bayard "will see how we can do better next time."

    Bertrand Fichou, Youpi's news editor, also offered his own apology, indicating his intention was to never challenge the legitimacy of the Jewish state, New York Post reported.

    "I'll blame myself for it all my life," he said.

    Israel was founded in 1948 and has recently been at the center of debate after US President Donald Trump called for the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem instead of its current location in Tel Aviv. North Korea was founded in 1948 as well and is also much in the news, most recently for continuing to develop its nuclear and missile capabilities in defiance of international sanctions and despite frequent shows of force by its opponents near the peninsula it shares with South Korea.


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