Dot-p-s, Because Any Sovereignty You Can Get Counts

Jun 02, 2009
*Special to asia!

At times in this long tussle for land, victories come down to this: calling it.

The Israeli Tourism Ministry attempted a bit of revisionist geography on a poster in London recently. It showed Palestinian territories and the disputed Golan Heights as part of the Jewish state. The Syrian Embassy and pro-Palestinian groups protested, and the ministry was forced to withdraw it, though not before offering a weak “We don't mix tourism and politics.”

Perhaps this assertion of Israeli existence was a bit of a tit-for-tat for what happened the month before that.

British airline BMI was forced to apologise for all but wiping Israel off the map. There was no indication of Israel at all on the electronic inflight maps used on its London-Tel Aviv flights. The only Israeli city even shown was Haifa, but even then, not by its official but its Arab name Khefa.

Haifa or Khefa? Does it matter? Yes, because for some, the use of the official ( and hence perceived Jewish) or Arab name is a demonstration of which side you are rooting for.

On the one hand you have Israel, while internationally recognised as a sovereign state, is still being questioned by many on its right to to exist where it does today. Then there are the Palestinians, who were displaced from their homeland first by the creation of Israel, and now by the inaction and ineffectuality of the international community.

Too bad the struggle for recognition were as easy as on the ground as it were in cyberspace. After three years - a short time by peace process standards - Palestinians finally got their right to their own unique country identifier. Since 2000, Palestinian websites have been able to tag “.ps“ to the end of their urls.

It may not seem like much, but these are unfortunately the sort of small victories that the Palestinians are chalking up in their tally.



Various maps of Jerusalem

A Palestinian-published map of Jerusalem manages to squee

ze in Bethlehem, a city which granted, lies just eight kilometres or so away on the opposite end of Hebron Road. But the visitor will be hard-pressed to locate the neighbourhood where the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum is located.

Just two weeks ago, a poll conducted by the University of Haifa indicated that around 40% of Arabs in Israel believe the Holocaust never took place.  It's almost doubled from the 28% in 2006.

The percentage of those who believe Israel has a right to exist as an independent country has also dropped. In 2003, it was more than 81%. Now, it's 53.7%.

Neither the map nor the poll should be taken as indicative of the prevailing sentiments among Israeli Arabs, but what it should do is give pause for thought.

In cyberspace there may be all the room for all the “.ps”s and “.il”s of the world. But on terra firma, with the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians still unresolved, that co-existence remains a virtual reality away.


dan-chyi chua

Dan-Chyi Chua was a broadcast journalist, before forsaking Goggle Box Glitz for the Open Road. A three-year foray led her through the Middle East, China, SE Asia, Latin America and Cuba, and she's now grounded herself as a writer for, content with spending her days in Jerusalem.

Contact Dan-Chyi