Google blames a malfunction for removing the terms “West Bank” and “Gaza Strip” from its map of Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.
“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,” said a Google spokesperson in an email to Mondoweiss.
The bug Google blames for the erasure of the labels set off a wave of outraged Tweets and Facebook posts in the last several days, although the deletion reportedly occurred as early as July 25th. The Palestinian Journalists Forum issued a widely circulated denouncement of the removal.
“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,” the PJF said, according to Turkish Radio Television (TRT).
Andrew Kadi, a co-chair of the U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation, told Mondoweiss that he feels Google is part of the problem when it comes to recognizing the occupation. Although the United States and United Nations have repeatedly in the past declared Israel’s military to be an occupying force in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, that obvious declaration has fallen out of style. Google’s omission of the word makes this amnesia possible.
“I just searched Palestine on Google Maps and it brings up Israel basically. Israel is labelled like Israel, like lots of different parts of what is now recognized as Israel, but you do not have a label that clearly states that the Golan Heights is occupied. You don’t have anything that clearly states that the West Bank is occupied. Although you have the Green Line you have nothing that indicates that East Jerusalem is militarily occupied. And these aren’t my definitions, these are the international definitions, recognized by every country including the U.S. So it’s odd,” Kadi said.
The debate over Google’s alleged bug “overlooks that Google has not been correctly labelling these areas correctly anyway.”