The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is kicking and screaming into reality, but when it comes to some of the leading corporates in the world, it seems as if the conflict is over, and Israel is on the losing side.
National Geographic shared a video of an escalator on its Instagram account a couple of weeks ago, taken by Photographer Robert Clark. The short clip was accompanied by the caption: “Next stop – Israel.” Several of the 3 million followers of that Instagram account had a few issues with this caption, and they spared no mercy with their anti-Israeli sentiment. “Israel is a murderer. Palestine will be ours, “No such place, but there is such a disease” were just a couple of the many comments of such.
National Geographic, on its behalf, decided to react by simply changing the caption and removing the word “Israel.” “I spend a lot of time in airports” was the new caption, but it did not lead to peace and quiet. It wasn’t too long before more comments started to appear, this time it was people wondering why they cave in to a few comments instead of standing up to them. “Why is this page so hypocritical?” asked one follower. “If you’re going to post something about Israel, be ready to face the opinion of the public instead of deleting your comment and reporting again without it.”
In these words, the commenter described a worrying and growing phenomenon where international companies choose to follow anti-Israeli demands instead of dealing with a little bit of pressure. We have been witnessing this phenomenon it in the past few years when artist who were scheduled to perform in Israel cancelled their concerts due to BDS pressure the threats. Every time an artist announces their arrival, we go in a time period of uncertainty, waiting to hear he or she faced the threats and chose to separate the international language of music from politics.
While this phenomenon is very publicly noticeable in the world of music and culture, it is hidden in the world of technology. Many known companies already chose a side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and not only acknowledge the State of Palestine, but sometimes go further as to not acknowledge Israel. In Google Street View, for example, the State of Palestine not only exists, but it has clear boundaries. True, there are talks that the future Palestinian state might be established in the area east of Jerusalem, but it is yet to happen. The conflict is still ongoing, and these territories are still part of Israel. As a result, Israelis who live in those so-called "disputed territories," find themselves living in “Palestine” when they enter Google Street View.
This summer, Fanta, the orange drink from the Coca Cola family, launched a new campaign under the title “Want a Fanta?” While in Israeli television Fanta commercials were running on a daily basis, Fanta posted a world map on their website, showing which countries in the world sell Fanta. While “Palestinian Territories” was on the list, “Israel” was not. After the social networks created some noise on the matter, Fanta soon fixed their mistake and put Israel right back in its place. But the damage was already done – through its actions, it became clear that to Fanta, Israel is not a legitimate country, sending this message to its worldwide customers.
These are only a few examples of the worrying phenomenon that spreads quickly throughout the world. It may not seem like a big deal, for Israel does, in fact, exist, but nowadays we all know the importance of public opinion in affecting decision makers. Unlike news channels and political groups, companies such as National Geographic, Google and Fanta have no obvious political agenda. They don’t wish to cause a commotion, on the contrary – they try to maintain the status-quo and surround themselves with silence. In order to achieve this, they try to please loud groups within the society, in this case, anti-Israelis. What they fail to realize is that by obeying their every wish, they are doing a tremendous amount of damage.
When pro-Palestinian propaganda mixes with anti-Israeli sentiments in small, esoteric Facebook groups it can have zero to very little effect. But when this poisonous epidemic infects large international companies, it becomes worrying and disturbing. We must always be alert and keep an eye on those companies. Always notice when Israel is being delegitimized and not be afraid to comment and complain. But we must notice the difference between delegitimizing Israel and acknowledging a Palestinian being. The former is something we must fight, the latter is legitimate. Peace will only come when both sides will co-exist, not when one wants to "delete" the other.