Google Earth and the Nakba Dots

Changing the virtual world
When Google Earth became a platform for misinformation, depicting Israel as a state born out of colonial conquest, Dr Oboler responded with reports, articles and media coverage. He highlighted the danger to society when powerful new media information resources become platforms for propaganda. His work also highlighted the need to differentiate between social media and fact based information resources. In social media a diversity of opinion adds value, in information resources the value lies in truth.

  • Google ultimately changed the Google Earth system so it operated in line with Dr Oboler’s recommendations.

The key reports

Dr Oboler first discussed the problem as an example of the spread of hate in social media in his seminal report on antisemitism 2.o: Andre Oboler, Online Antisemitism 2.0. “Social Antisemitism on the Social Web”, Post-Holocaust and Antisemitism Series, JCPA, (April 2008, No. 67)

Soon after he prepared an in depth analysis of the Google Earth problem: Andre Oboler, Google Earth: A New Platform for Anti-Israel Propaganda and Replacement Geography, Jerusalem Issue Briefs, Vol. 8, No. 5, JCPA, 26 June 2008

The outcome

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) , who ran a public campaign on the Google Earth issue, praised Google in a press release for correcting the problem.

Morton A. Klein, the ZOA’s National President also praised Dr Oboler’s work saying, “Much of the credit for unearthing and publicizing these problems goes to Dr. Andre Oboler… We thank Dr. Oboler for his efforts and look forward to continuing to work together in combating anti-Israel propaganda on the Internet.”

Media coverage

Christoph Gunkel, Facebook and Google Earth: Anti-Semitism in Web 2.0, F.A.Z. (Germany), October 14 2008.
Stephanie Rubenstein, Google Earth highlights the ‘Nakba’, Jerusalem Post, July 2nd 2008
Caitlyn Martin, Google Earth Delivers Geographic Data, Satellite Imagery, and Political Bias, O’Reilly News, August 29, 2008
En Israel siguen las denuncias contra el programa Google Earth y su mencion sobre “la catastrofe palestina”, Agencia Judia Noticias (Argentina), July 31 2008 (In Spanish)

Andre Oboler, Hatred and Antisemitism Online, Agencia Judia Noticias (Argentina), September 4 2008

Interview with Dr Andre Oboler and David Appletree from the JIDF on WNWR Radio, July 9th 2008 (USA). Listen to the recording.


Dr Oboler has used the Google Earth example in a number of presentations on public diplomacy and online hate. These includes presentations for the Israeli Embassy in London, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem, the World Union of Jewish Students, and the ZOA in Pittsburgh.

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