Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Weather maps

Weather maps in newspapers in America and in most of the world are just that: weather maps. In the Middle East, they are political maps. “The Jerusalem Post,” a right-wing English-language Israeli paper, publishes a daily map on the back page of the front section titled, “Weather in Israel,” which shows no political boundaries for the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, or the Golan Heights, all considered occupied territories according to the United Nations. Most maps published outside of Israel clearly show such boundaries. The map in the Jerusalem Post shows the temperature highs and lows for 12 Israeli cities, including the largest Israeli settlement, called Ariel, which is located in the West Bank. It does not print the name or location of any Palestinian cities within “Israel.”

“Haaretz,” a left-leaning Israeli paper, which prints an English-language edition, shows a wider map of the region, with temperatures in Israeli cities, including Ariel, as well as two Palestinian cities, Gaza and Nablus, and two Jordanian cities, Amman and Aqaba. It avoids defining political boundaries within Israel by not showing any political boundaries at all.

The mainstream Jordanian newspaper, “Al-Ghad,” shows the weather in Jordan and the West Bank. It draws political boundaries more than 37 years old, showing the West Bank as part of Jordan. It indicates the names of the countries surrounding Jordan, with the exception of Israel. The Jordanian government has officially recognized the state of Israel, but the Dome of the Rock, the third holiest site in Islam, which is located in Jerusalem and for 19 years was under Jordanian control, is still printed on Jordanian currency. More than half of Jordanians are of Palestinian origin, and many object to the government’s relations with Israel.

Palestinian newspapers, for their part, include no weather maps at all. Al-Quds, the oldest Palestinian newspaper, whose name, Al Quds, means The Holy,” which is what Arabs call Jerusalem. It lists the weather in cities like New York, Tokyo and Amsterdam, far from Israel and Palestine and the Middle East all together.


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