Op-Ed: Google Goes Ga Ga Over Palestine
Google has spoken - Palestine is now indeed recognized as a country by the internet giant following the change of tag line on the homepage of its Palestinian edition from "Palestinian Territories" to "Palestine".
In a statement given to the BBC - Google spokesman Nathan Tyler said:
"We're changing the name 'Palestinian Territories' to 'Palestine' across our products. We consult a number of sources and authorities when naming countries.
"In this case, we are following the lead of the UN, Icann [the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers], ISO [International Organisation for Standardisation] and other international organisations."
Dr Sabri Saidam, advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, told the BBC:
"This is a step in the right direction, a timely step and one that encourages others to join in and give the right definition and name for Palestine instead of Palestinian territories
"Most of the traffic that happens now happens in the virtual world and this means putting Palestine on the virtual map as well as on the geographic maps,"
Tom McCarthy - a journalist for the Guardian US - has reported Google's announcement under the following headline:
"Palestine now recognised by greater power than US or Israel – Google"
Certainly Mahmoud Abbas assumed the title "President of Palestine" and disbanded the Palestinian Authority on 3 January.
Yet no map has been produced - or can be produced - by President Abbas indicating where the country he presumably heads is located. Nor has he called for the disbandment of the refugee camps run by UNRWA, now that they are not refugees anymore - and extended a call to all Palestinian Arabs around the world to come and join him in the task of building and developing this newest country in the world.
As the unelected President of Palestine, the former unelected President of the officially disbanded Palestinian Authority, the elected Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the head of its major faction - Fatah - Abbas has led the fight for recognition of statehood and it seems that his victories at UNESCO and the United Nations have borne fruit as even organisations such as Google queue up to recognize that there is indeed a newly created country called "Palestine".
So where is the country called Palestine? What are its boundaries and who is its ruler?
Words have meaning and consequences. Playing semantics where lives and other countries national interests are involved is a dangerous game.
The recognition of this new country called "Palestine" by Google - and anyone espousing the same viewpoint - requires them to identify the precise location and area of the land that such country encompasses.
Google itself does not appear to be following its much reported announcement in other spheres of its business.
A search for "Palestine" on Google Maps only provides a map for "Palestinian Territories".
A search for "Palestine" on Google Earth Maps on-line free only reveals the following:
"Satellite View of the Palestinian territories: Gaza Strip and West Banks Satellite View of Palestinian territories using Google Earth Data
Satellite view is showing the Palestinian territories of Gaza Strip which lies on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, and the West Bank, a landlocked territory on the west bank of the River Jordan in the Middle East.
Largest city in Gaza Strip is Gaza (City), most populated cities in West Bank are Nablus -Shechem - (135,000), and Hevron (120,000).
Countries with international borders to the Palestinian territories are Egypt, Israel, and Jordan."
A search on Google Images for "Palestine Map 2013" only displayed a map titled "Occupied Palestinian Territory".
Google's left hand does not seem to know what its right hand is doing.
Google's credibility and reliability to provide accurate information is certainly being put to the test as a result of its latest decision
Perhaps Nathan Tyler can enlighten Google users - because at the present time the situation appears to be very confusing.