Google Earth: Israel 'Stole Palestinian Land'.
An Israeli town is suing Internet giant Google after surprised municipal of= ficials discovered Google Earth, the popular, user-driven satellite map, la= bels their city as stolen Palestinian land.
"[The label] is simply complete nonsense," Yossi Ben-Artzi, a history profe= ssor at Israel's Haifa University told Yedioth Ahronoth. "Kiryat Yam was bu= ilt on sand dunes, and there wasn't any Palestinian village in the area. Th= e lands were bought in 1939 by the Gav Yam construction company."
The professor was responding to a criminal complaint filed by the northern = Israeli coastal town of Kiryat Yam, which a Google Earth user mapped as sto= len by Jews when Israel was founded in 1948.
About 600,000 Arabs fled Israel after surrounding Arab countries warned the= y would destroy the Jewish state in 1948. Some Arabs also were driven out b= y Jewish forces while they were trying to push back invading Arab armies. A= t the same time, over 800,000 Jews were expelled or left Arab countries und= er threat after Israel was founded.
The Google Earth user, identified as Palestinian physician Thameen Darby, i= nserted a note on the map saying Kiryat Yam was built in 1948 at the locati= on of a former Arab town called Ghawarina. Ghawarina, though, is widely tho= ught to be about 10 miles south of Kiryat Yat, in an Arab village currently= named Jisr el-Zarka.
"This is one of the Palestinian localities evacuated and destroyed after th= e 1948 Arab-Israeli war," Darby posted above Kiryat Yam. Darby's claim is s= trange since Kiryat Yam was founded in the 1930s and not in 1948, when he c= laims Jews expelled Arabs from the site.
An official Google response e-mailed to WND explained Google Earth is user = driven: "Content reflects what people contribute, not what Google believes = to be true. ... While we recognize that some may find the user-generated co= ntent objectionable, we are careful to balance the integrity of an open for= um with the legal requirements of local governments. If an overlay does not= breach our Terms and Conditions and is not in any way illegal, it is our p= olicy not to remove it."
A Google spokesman told the Associated Press Darby's posting on the map doe= sn't violate Google policy and that the Palestinian label would not be remo= ved.
This is not the first time Google Earth drew controversy alleging pro-Pales= tinian bias. WND reported last year while Jerusalem serves as Israel's capi= tal, and the Temple Mount is located within Israeli sovereignty, Google Ear= th divides the city and places the Mount =96 Judaism's holiest site =96 wit= hin Palestinian territory.
Interactive Google Earth maps still mark eastern sections of Jerusalem and = the Temple Mount as "occupied territory," set to become part of a future Pa= lestinian state.
The United Nations considers eastern sections of Jerusalem, recaptured by I= srael during the 1967 Six-Day War, to be "disputed" and not "occupied." The= Israeli Knesset officially annexed the entire city of Jerusalem as its cap= ital in 1980.
"Google Earth is reinforcing lies," Rabbi Chaim Richman, director of the in= ternational department at Israel's Temple Institute, told WND. "The Muslims= have engaged in a systemic campaign to re-write history and erase any trac= es of Judaism from the Temple Mount in total disregard to all actual archeo= logical and historic evidence," he continued. "Now Google Earth has given i= n to this campaign."
Jerusalem first was divided into eastern and western sections when Jordan i= nvaded and occupied the city and the Temple Mount area in 1947, expelling a= ll Jewish inhabitants. Israel originally built its capital in the western p= art of the city, while the eastern quarters remained under Jordanian contro= l until Israel regained them in 1967.
Google Earth does not limit its input in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict t= o Jerusalem and Kiryat Yam. The Gaza Strip is labeled by Google Earth as "I= sraeli occupied," even though the Jewish state withdrew from Gaza in August= 2005.
TotallyJewish.com, a UK-based Jewish website, pointed out an interactive Go= ogle Earth map of an Israeli community in the northern West Bank features i= ntegrated user comments implying Jews are stealing water from neighboring P= alestinians.
A posting on a Google map next to the town of Kiryat Arba, near the ancient= city of Hebron, states: "Note the well-tended lawns in a region deprived o= f water."
Clicking on a Web link in the posting brings the user to a site stating, "T= he principal reason for the water shortage is an unfair distribution of wat= er resources shared by Israel and the Palestinians."
The posting decries Israel's purported water-confiscation practices as "ill= egal" and "racist," even though dozens of major Israeli aquifers, many run = by the Jewish National Fund, purify water running through Palestinian citie= s and return the cleaned water to the Palestinian towns.
Comments on other Google Earth images claim Israel plans to divide parts of= Bethlehem, even though no such plan exists and the city is already under P= alestinian control.
Google Earth is also accused of showing falsified images. Visitors to Googl= e Earth who click on an area just outside Jerusalem can view a computer-gen= erated image claiming to depict an Israeli missile factory. Israeli defense= officials told WND the "missile factory" is a fabrication.
Mort Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, accused Googl= e Earth of encouraging terrorism when it allowed Jerusalem and the Temple M= ount to be labeled Palestinian.
"When the Arab terrorists see Google Earth's falsification of geographic re= alities, they will be appeased and encouraged, because these kinds of lying= maps send the message that their disinformation campaigns and their terror= ism work," Klein told WND.
Indeed, Abu Nasser, second-in-command of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terro= r group, said he was "thrilled" by Google Earth's depictions.
"Congratulations to Google Earth," Abu Nasser told WND. "We congratulate Go= ogle and the American people in making this very important change in the Mi= ddle East. The Al Aqsa Mosque (located on the Temple Mount) is part of Jeru= salem, and Jerusalem is part of Palestine. If such a big institution like G= oogle corrected these historical mistakes on maps, maybe we can bring about= a change in the depictions of Palestine by the American media, which is co= ntrolled by the Zionists."
According to Abu Nasser, whose terror group says it is trying to liberate t= he Al Aqsa Mosque, the Jewish Temple "never existed. At least not on the ar= ea Jews now call the Temple Mount. Maybe a Temple existed somewhere but not= in Jerusalem. The Temple Mount exists only in the imaginations of the Jews= and Americans."
Abu Nasser's Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is the declared "military wing" of Pa= lestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party. The Brigades, tog= ether with the Islamic Jihad terror group, has taken responsibility for eve= ry suicide bombing in Israel the past two years, including an attack in Tel= Aviv that killed American teenager Daniel Wultz and nine Israelis.