The 'Palestine' Conflict Rages Over Google Maps

Google rejects Palestinian accusations that they've deleted a reference to Palestine on its maps, insisting such a label never appeared.

A Google Map showing part of Israel.
Google Maps

Palestinian journalists protested at the weekend that Google removed the Palestine tag from its maps application. But the web giant says it never had a Palestine tag on its maps to begin with.

The journalists saw the removal of the name Palestine as a part of an Israeli plan to dismiss the existence of a Palestinian entity.  A campaign was mounted on Twitter under the #PalestineIsHere hashtag.

“The Forum of Palestinian Journalists condemns the crime carried out by Google in deleting the name of Palestine, and calls for Google to rescind its decision and apologize to the Palestinian people,” reads part of the statement from the Forum of Palestinian Journalists, posted to its website August 3.

“ The move is designed to falsify history, geography as well as the Palestinian people’s right to their homeland, and [is] a failed attempt to tamper with the memory of Palestinians and Arabs as well as the world.”

The Washington Post reports though that Google hasn't changed its labeling of the region and that the search results are the same now as five months ago, where the word Palestine does not appear on a map including West Bank and Gaza territory.

Google says the complaints against them are baseless. "We have never had a 'Palestine' label on Google maps," the company told The Washington Post. But the company says it has found a bug that has deleted the tern West Bank and Gaza Strip which it is working to restore.

The Post's columnist Caitlin Dewey feels though the Palestinian protest "does raise some interesting questions about the power of mapping technologies like Google’s.

"In their attempts to dispassionately document the physical world online, tech companies often end up shaping our understanding of it, too," Dewey writes.