(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Palestinians are waging an online war against the search engine Google to retain their identity. Thousands have signed a petition urging Google to reinstate Palestine on the maps service after the world";s most used search engine came under heavy criticism following its decision to remove Palestine from its Google Maps application. A Twitter hashtag (#PalestineIsHere) is also gaining popularity not only among Palestinians, but people who oppose Israeli occupation and call for an independent Palestinian state.
Over 150,000 people have signed a Change.org petition entitled 'Google: Put Palestine on your maps” as of Monday, accusing Google Maps of 'making itself complicit in the Israeli government";s ethnic cleansing of Palestine”. The petition, drafted by best selling author Zak Martin, slams the omission of the UN non-member observer state";s name on the map as a grievous insult to Palestinians. If you search for ‘Palestine"; the Google Map will redirect you to either Gaza or Jerusalem instead of showing the entire country with its name.
Google says there had never been a Palestine label on Google Maps and they discovered a bug that removed the labels for West Bank and Gaza Strip and now they are working to bring these labels back to the area. Google Maps are regarded as definitive by people who carry out research into the Israel-Palestine situation. Palestine —or at least the Palestinian Territories — were previously designated in Google Maps, but all mention of Palestine was removed at the insistence of the Israeli government, which claimed that by including Palestine in its maps, Google was interfering with the ‘peace process"; by pre-empting the outcome of any two-state solution that might be reached. It is alleged that Google";s two Jewish founders have close links with Israel and they are acting at the behest of its leaders. It is the online parallel of Israel";s policy of demolishing Palestinian villages and changing Palestinian place names in an effort to erase Palestine from the map.
It is a fact that 136 members of the United Nations recognise Palestine as an independent state and it has been given de facto recognition by the UN. Only Israel, the US and some other countries are reluctant to do so. The Palestinian Journalists"; Forum denounced Google for deleting the name of Palestine from its maps and replacing it with Israel. The Forum alleged that Google";s decision to remove Palestine from its maps on 25 July was part of the Israeli scheme to establish its name as a legitimate state for generations to come and abolish Palestine once and for all. The move is also designed to falsify history, 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.