Update: After many people reported the error it was finally fixed in English, but other variations of sentences with Israel still translates the word to “Palestine”. Google says it was a bug.
This is absolutely unacceptable!
When you type in “הגיע לארץ ישראל” on Google Translate, which means “came to Israel”, it instead translates the sentence to “came to Palestine”.
Let me break down why this is a serious problem and completely anti-Semitic.
First off, Palestine is not a place! There is Israel, there is Gaza, there is Judea & Samaria (also referred to as the “West Bank”, which is divided into areas A,B, & C), there is Jordan and there are other countries surrounding, but there is actually no place called “Palestine”.
2,000 years ago Judea/Israel (a civilization for which its descendants are today known as “Jews” or “Israelites”) was destroyed by the Roman Empire. As an act of colonization/humiliation, the Roman Empire renamed the land of “Judea” to “Palestine”.
They did this because the word “Palestine” comes from the Biblical “Philistine” People that were the Greek version of the Vikings, and enemies of Israel/Judea. In other words, the Romans renamed the land with a name that belonged to one of the Judean People’s worst enemies to add insult to injury. In fact, the word “Philistine” itself is actually a Hebrew word which comes from the Hebrew root “polesh” which means “to invade”. So “Palestine” in Hebrew, literally translates to “invaded land”.
To put it in a modern context, it’s as if a country today conquered/colonized Israel and renamed the land to “Hitler” to insult the native Israeli population and to further destroy the memory of their civilization after its violent destruction.
The Roman colonization of Judea and renaming the land to “Palestine” happened 2,000 years ago. Mind you, that is 500 years before the birth of Islam and an additional few hundred years before Arabs even began moving into this land. Furthermore, the Arabs now living in this land didn’t even call themselves “Palestinian” until 1964, which is almost 20 years after the establishment of Israel (1948).
These facts are crucial to understanding the history of the region, the conflict, and the intentions behind the use of the word “Palestine” as a replacement for Israel.
When someone says “Palestine” instead of “Israel” or “free Palestine”, what they are really saying is that Israel should be destroyed and the land freed from any Jewish presence or characteristics. Attacking the Jewish identity, delegitimizing Jewish sovereignty, or manipulating the suffering of a population to generate political ammunition and to ultimately destroy the Jewish civilization IS anti-Semitic.
It’s also important to note that the use of the word “Palestine” should not be confused with the use of the word “Palestinian” today. The group of people that refer to themselves as Palestinians are real! They are just as human as anyone else, and the insistence that they do not exist by some voices removes their humanity and value as equals in today’s world.
That being said, the “Philistine” People were foreign invaders and were wiped out hundreds of years before the Roman Empire even renamed the land to “Palestine”, and today’s “Palestinians” are the descendants of Arabs from the east that moved into the land over the past few centuries and only began self-identifying as “Palestinian” in the mid 1960’s.
The point is, that regardless of what name this group of people uses, they are still real people and that using a recently adopted name does not change history or give anyone legitimacy. Of course, history can always be interpreted in many ways, but a large group of European individuals cannot come to Mexico and claim legitimacy to the land because they now self-identify as “Mayans”.
Google should not only immediately correct this error, but issue a public apology for allowing such a malicious translation on its platform. It should also take this mistake along with the serious pain it has caused to make sure to be even more sensitive to such occurrences, which happens way too often.
Companies today are so careful to train their employees to be sensitive of minority rights and suffering, but when it comes to Jewish rights, nothing is said or done.
Every civil-rights movement had its allies, but it was always lead by its own demographic. It was mostly black people that fought as a collective to change the injustices they were dealing with. It was mostly women that fought as a collective to change the injustices they were experiencing. If Jews themselves don’t start standing up for their own rights as a collective, nothing will change.
Every generation has to fight for justice and actively put the effort in making the world a better place. Our generation has a whole new set of challenges, but we must start taking action and destroy the apathy within ourselves that prevents us from fighting for justice and creating change.