I bet you thought Palestine hadn’t achieved statehood. After all, their UN bid for recognition as an independent state, failed. You wouldn’t know that from surfing the web.
Two years ago, before I took my current job at Kars for kids, I was writing a white paper on geographic information systems (GIS) for an outsourcing company. I went to the ESRI website and explored the various maps. I remember that at that time, the name of my country, Israel, was nowhere to be found on the GIS world maps, though all the neighboring Arab countries were clearly marked.
Today, I revisited those maps. Happily, Israel was properly labeled. However, just for the heck of it, I typed in Efrat, Israel.
“No results found.”
Well, what if I let the search engine second guess me? I typed in Efrat, where I live, and bingo, the map gremlins helpfully filled in the search field with:
“Efrata, West Bank, Palestinian Territory.”
I was reminded of something that happened last week when I decided to write up a study on education that was commissioned by the OECD. The study suggested that most Israeli students are happy in school. That was blog worthy. But I needed pix. I always put pictures in my blogs to break up the text.
I decided I’d download the Excel tables on student engagement for all 65 participating countries and take a screenshot to accompany my piece. I downloaded the file. But when I opened it, I was surprised to see a note at the top of the chart:
“Note: The statistical data for Israel are supplied by and under the authority of the relevant Israeli authorities. The use of such data by the OECD is without prejudice to the status of the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, and Israeli settlements in the West Bank.”
There are 65 participating countries in this study, yet only one of them is singled out for special mention. Just one of them has its territory marked with a question mark. One country alone has its legitimacy questioned: Israel.
It seems to me those poor benighted Palestinians wield an incredible amount of power to have the entire OECD trembling before it, afraid to say that the Golan Heights is part of sovereign Israeli territory, terrified to admit that Judea and Samaria might be at the heart of the Jewish homeland, and scared witless to say that Jerusalem isn’t once mentioned in the Koran.
Even though Palestine the State doesn’t exist.
The blog post completed, I turned to my work inbox to catch up on correspondence. I scanned my HARO digest for relevant items. One query summary caught my eye:
“Summary: Doing business in the Middle East?”
I clicked the hyperlink to read the full query and read this:
“Query: For an article in Global Trade magazine, I am interviewing executives, business owners and entrepreneurs active in doing business in Arab countries, including Algeria, Bahrain,Djibouti, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Oman, Qatar. Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, West Bank and Gaza and Yemen. I am especially interested in interviewing companies exporting consumer goods. Interviews will be about their strategies for entering and succeeding in these markets. Small companies are fine. Regional experts, authors, consultants, advisors, bankers, etc. with experience in region will also be considered.”
Note that “West Bank and Gaza” are lumped together in this query as “Arab countries,” though neither of these locales can be considered a country, but rather exist inside one country, Israel, which of course, is not an Arab country.
It certainly does get confusing for someone like me, who lives in Efrat, in the Judean Wilderness, pays taxes to the Israeli government, votes in Israeli elections, has an Israeli passport, but is said by the GIS people to live in Palestinian Territory, when not a single “Palestinian” lives in Efrat. It’s difficult to comprehend how I can be holding an Israeli identity card while identified by a reporter at Global Trade magazine as living in an Arab country, especially since the state flag is decorated with the Star of David as opposed to a crescent. Furthermore, it’s hard for me to see how the OECD perspective on where I live is “without prejudice” when clearly it is prejudiced against the Jews who have attained actual statehood (i.e. me) as opposed to the “Palestinians” who have not.
Will someone please enlighten me?