The “World Wonders Project” was launched on May 31, utilizing Street View, 3D modeling and other Google technologies to involve users in unusually vivid virtual tours of faraway places. Partnering with UNESCO and the World Monuments Fund, Google has gone out of its way to create online magic.
The project allows visitors to take a virtual tour of the 132 historic and heritage sites from 18 countries, which is presented in six languages including English and Hebrew.
Jerusalem’s Old City and parts of historic Tel Aviv are featured in Google’s new “World Wonders Project,” although Jerusalem is not included under the Israel category.
The Asia category includes Israel, Japan and Jerusalem. Yes, while the “White City of Tel Aviv” is under the Israel category, Jerusalem is presented as “Jerusalem, Asia,” bearing no connection to Israel.
The independent geopolitical entity of Jerusalem, Asia, is made up of views of the Old City, including the Western Wall.
Taking a tour of the WWP, I used the option menu “Find by location,” then “Asia,” then “Jerusalem,” and in that sub category picked yet another sub category, also named “Jerusalem.”
The reason for this glitch is that normally the first sub category would have read “Israel,” which legally annexed that entire city some 45 years ago.
Strangely enough, when I clicked on the second “Jerusalem” on the menu, I was transported to the ancient Jewish cemetery on Mount Olives, smack into a stone inscription of “Kolel Vohlin” and “The Old Cemetery” in Hebrew. And from that cemetery’s edge you see a magnificent, panorama view of Temple Mount across the valley.
It’s as if the digital programs themselves turned on their masters and, despite their efforts to obliterate Jewish ownership of the city, brought out the old bones of departed holy Jews to give testimony as to who are the true lovers of this place.
The text, on the right corner, told me that “As a holy city for Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Jerusalem has always been of great symbolic importance.” Of course, the world center for Christians is in Rome and for Muslims Mecca, and the first time Arabs began to think of Jerusalem in terms of a holy city was probably in the early 1920, but don’t let those facts confuse you…
I clicked on “Information,” and read the rest:
“Official UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981
“As a holy city for Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Jerusalem has always been of great symbolic importance. Among its 220 historic monuments, the Dome of the Rock stands out: built in the 7th century, it is decorated with beautiful geometric and floral motifs. It is recognized by all three religions as the site of Abraham’s sacrifice. The Wailing Wall delimits the quarters of the different religious communities, while the Resurrection rotunda in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre houses Christ’s tomb.”
Read it again. It isn’t your Hebrew school Jerusalem by any stretch. The Jewish part of this “information” has been reduced to a wall whose significance is in delimiting the boundaries of the many different religions in this holy city.
It’s obvious why Google opted to collaborate in this virtual conquest of Israel’s capital. Its business is entirely run on the math of eyeballs, and there are roughly 170 potential Arab customers for every Jewish one. Perhaps this is how Chinese dissidents felt when Google sided with their repressive government. It’s only business.
But rewriting history and geography in such an unabashed manner has to give every person of conscience pause. No matter how big a conglomerate becomes, it doesn’t give it the right to distort reality so blatantly.
Some JTA content was used in this article.