#PalestineIsHere: Row over Google maps omission of Palestine
Over 250,000 signatures have been gained this week for an online petition, demanding Palestine be labelled and bordered in Google Maps.
Over the last few days, it was suggested that Palestine had purposefully been removed from the Google maps app, but actually the country has never been labelled up on the mapping service.
The Change.org petition entitled “Google: Put Palestine on your maps”, initiated by the Palestinian Journalists’ Forum (PJF) in March this year, severely berates Google for depicting the entire occupied Palestinian territories as part of the state of Israel.
The petition, drafted by Zak Martin, castigates the omission of the UN non-member observer state’s name on the map as a “grievous insult” to Palestinians. It slams Google Maps of “making itself complicit in the Israeli government’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine” either on purpose or inadvertently
When searching for Palestine on Google Maps, it shows an outline, but with no label for Palestine and Israel labelled alongside it. While 136 members of the United Nations recognise Palestine as an independent state, the US and much of the west does not.
“The move is also designed to falsify history, and geography as well as the Palestinian people’s right to their homeland, and a failed attempt to tamper with the memory of Palestinians and Arabs as well as the world,” a PJF statement says.
“People have berated the move as a “failed attempt” aimed at “falsifying history and geography.”
If one tries to type Palestine into Google Maps search, they’d be shown a blank space within Israel’s territory marking the areas of Gaza, Judea and Samaria with a dashed line, without naming them.
The anger over the realisation inspired the Twitter hashtags #BoycottGoogle and #PalestineIsHere with people venting their frustration at Google for apparently taking sides in a protracted conflict.
“Google Now you make fake history. Aren't you ashamed. You are siding with a country. You are a moteur de recherché,” wrote @MlleNerdy.
Reid Iford wrote: “Erasing the very record of the existence of the People of Palestine. "Israel" is striving for a level of genocide of which the Nazis could only dream.”
Some even threatened to switch to other search engines or stop using some of its services if the US tech giant sticks to its decision.
Unsurprisingly, mainstream British press has failed to report on this matter.
A Google spokeswoman said: “There has never been a ‘Palestine’ label on Google Maps, however we discovered a bug that removed the labels for ‘West Bank’ and ‘Gaza Strip’. We’re working quickly to bring these labels back to the area.”
Palestine was awarded a non-member observer status at the UN in November 2012 despite vehement opposition from Israel and its ally US. The General Assembly resolution, passed by the absolute majority with 130 countries for, 9 against and 41 abstaining, was hailed by the Palestinian leadership and regular citizens who took to streets to celebrate a milestone decision.