Earlier this week, Vogue Arabia posted a provocative image to its website and Instagram page, showing a map of Israel festooned with flowers surrounding the Dome of the Rock.
But instead of being labeled “Israel,” the map was captioned “Palestine.”
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Globally, the Palestine/Israel conflict is a hot-button, often controversial and divisive topic with historical complexity. This past week, an issue surfaced on social media and rapidly spread: an artist’s creative rendering of Palestine in response to Palestine not being included in Google Maps. Created by Turkey-based @adigebatur, the image, which showcases Palestine in place of Israel, was quickly shared by some of the Arab World’s most prominent celebrities, including Sherihan and Yasmin Raeis. The artist commented: “I wanted to encourage hope for the protest against Palestine being ignored on Google Maps. The flowers seen here are also symbols of this hope.” Read the full story on Vogue.me
The image, created by Turkey-based illustrator Adige Batur and titled “The Real Map,” was made in response to a recent controversy over Google Maps not displaying the name for Palestine on its platform, with some claiming that the name had been removed. (Google Maps, in fact, has never listed the name “Palestine” on its platform.) This accusation against Google has been leveled in the past, notably in 2016 by the Forum of Palestinian Journalists during a time when a bug on the website erased the labels for the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
In a lengthy Instagram caption, Vogue Arabia wrote that “the image, which showcases Palestine in place of Israel, was quickly shared by some of the Arab World’s [sic] most prominent celebrities, including [Egyptian actors] Sherihan and Yasmin Raeis. The artist commented: ‘I wanted to encourage hope for the protest against Palestine being ignored on Google Maps. The flowers seen here are also symbols of this hope.’” Palestine, which is also not listed on Apple Maps, has never been the name of an internationally recognized independent country, although Google Maps does demarcate disputed territories in Israel with dashed gray lines.
The Instagram post encourages followers to “read the full story at Vogue.me,” but doesn’t link to the story in question. The article, published July 20, addresses why the image is controversial, saying its critics claim it “doesn’t offer a balanced understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and noticeably excludes Israel from the illustration.” The Instagram post itself noted that “the Palestine/Israel conflict is a hot-button, often controversial and divisive topic with historical complexity.”
But many commenters on the post were outraged by what they viewed as an attempt to erase the Jewish State’s existence or legitimacy.
“You cannot fight Injustice with Injustice [sic],” one commenter wrote. “Google didn’t delete Palestine, they never put it on the maps simply because it is not recognized as a separate country by most Western countries. I am not saying this is right, but this is the reason why. Put Palestine on the map Google!! But the art deleting Israel is not cool either.”
Others were more laconic, writing “pretty sure this is Israel.”
The image remains on the magazine’s Instagram and Facebook pages. At press time, representatives for Vogue did not respond to requests for comment.
PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture reporter. He can be reached at email@example.com