On July 16, a social media wildfire began when people all around the world realized Palestine was noticeably absent from Google Maps. In actuality, Palestine has never been labeled on Google Maps. Though widespread awareness of this was raised in 2016, the tech company didn’t take action to amend its nonexistence, explaining that disputed territories are depicted with a dashed gray line.
— Sherihan (@Sherihan) July 18, 2020
Although Google was initially suspected of removing the Palestinian state from its online Maps software in recent days, the Arab community and its allies were quick to point out that this is not a new issue, but one that has been ongoing for years. On the other hand, critical voices highlight that a viral image by illustrator Adige Batur doesn’t offer a balanced understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and noticeably excludes Israel from the illustration.
— Yasmin raeis (@yasminraeis) January 29, 2020
Now that this realization has resurfaced once again, many of the Arab world’s leading stars have criticized this lack of presence not only on Google Maps but also on Apple Maps, taking to Twitter to express their disappointment and stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people. Iconic Egyptian actor Sherihan voiced a need for peace for a land that was created in peace but never saw peace while another Egyptian starlet, Yasmin Raeis, tweeted that Palestine will always exist, regardless of what is shown on Google and Apple Maps. To accompany their respective reactionary tweets, both stars also shared a map of Palestine covered with blooming bouquets of flowers and with the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the center. Captioned “The Real Map”, this piece of original artwork from Turkey-based artist Adige Batur quickly went viral when it was posted a few days ago with over 350,000 likes at the time of writing. Batur created this graphic with one thought in mind: Hope. The image is also being widely criticized as suggests the establishment of Palestine by removing Israel from the image.
Palestinian illustrator Narmeen Hamadeh also used art to express her feelings regarding this situation, creating another version of a map, and explaining the multi-faceted reasoning behind it in a heartfelt caption: Palestinians should “create our own maps”.