Ramallah, 5 October, 3 o’clock in the afternoon; dark clouds are stocked above the busy market in the city centre. A few seconds later the first raindrops fall apart on the fruit and vegetables. Only a minute later the rain is pouring down: people search for shelter under the awnings. In a moment the streets transform into small rivers.
The situation in the early days of October could be the introduction of the effects of climate change in the Middle East. That is not the case, there’s something else.
Codes and sunshine
When I look at the weather predictions at my phone –the standard weather program of iPhone- it displays my current location Ramallah in the West Bank by code instead of the city name. According to my iPhone, I’m in 322.220737, 35.258154. The program also shows that Ramallah is currently bloating in the sunshine and there will be no single drop of rain in the following days. A prediction that is not in accordance with the situation I’m in at that moment, with streets transforming into rivers and dark clouds turning the afternoon into the night.
A week later I’m in Nablus and the situation repeats itself, albeit without any rain or dark clouds. This time I want to know the time of the sunset. Also, in this Palestinian city, the weather program of my iPhone shows a code instead of the city name. I’m surprised. How could big cities like Ramallah and Nablus not be located on my iPhone by name? While even the most unknown villages in Europe are marked by their name with up-to-date weather conditions?
During any earlier visits to the West-Bank, I remember the names being displayed normally. So why is there a difference now?
I start searching on the internet for an explanation. While there’s no need for me to know the weather predictions, I’m intrigued by the fact that I’m in a big city, in a part of the world which is in the news on a regular basis and Apple -one of the most powerful monopolies in the world, selling phones in every corner of the planet- doesn’t recognize the area by name.
It turns out that since the latest update of IOS -the software system of iPhone- Palestinian cities have been removed from the list of locations. This explains why I haven’t noticed the absence during previous visits. They were there in earlier software systems.
The problem isn’t located at the West-Bank only but also includes Gaza. Likewise, Siri -Apple’s virtual assistant answering all your questions- is out of function in the West-Bank and Gaza. Summarized, the conclusion is obvious: Apple services do not connect with any location in Palestine anymore.
Find the Gap
The only source I could find to answer my questions is the community supporting page of Apple, where Palestinians report the same questions as me. Unfortunately, why Apple has no connection to Palestine remains unanswered.
The company does not explain. Nor are there any other sources that could present the missing link. There’s no article written by a research journalist or anything else that could reveal the mystery of Apple’s decision making.
To me, this is surprising. According to Apple’s values on its website, technology is most powerful when it empowers everyone. Furthermore, Apple claims to be an all-inclusive community. Reality is, that the all-inclusive community of one of the most powerful media monopolies, disconnects a piece of the geographical world in the digital world. Palestine does not longer exist in the world of Apple; it doesn’t empower people living in Palestine. In Palestine, you can connect with Apple, but Apple will not connect with you.
Mind the Gap
In the unfulfilled gap of ‘logic’, it’s only a small step to make suggestions of political influences. But still, questions remain, because if this is the case if politics are involved in Apple’s decision making then how? Does Apple want to make their own political statement? If so, why don’t they make it public? Has the USA government influenced Apple? If so, for what reason? What would be the benefit for Apple in disconnecting with Palestine? Has the company adopted a policy towards violence or supposed terrorism? If so, why would it disconnect only Palestine and no other places with recent histories of violence? And most important what is their policy?
There could be an endless list of suggestive questions and still no clear answers.
What started as the search for the weather conditions in the West-Bank, has transformed into the search for any ‘logic’ behind the decision making of a media giant. While there are multiple scenarios possible that could fulfil the gap of ‘logic’, for sure the disconnection between Apple and Palestine is another factor complicated the already complicated conflict between Israel and Palestine.