Wiping Israel off Brit airline's map stirs furor
Brit airline glitch takes Mideast conflict to new heights
Angry Israeli passengers complained to British BMI airline that the Jewish state was wiped off the inflight map, which showed flights bound for Israel were instead heading to Mecca.
But the airline denied any anti-Israel agenda and insisted there was a simple explanation: the planes were recently bought from a bankrupt charter company that flew mainly to Muslim countries.
"For this reason the inflight entertainment system in the two planes was made to adapt to the passengers flying to and from those destinations and therefore the map showed mainly places holy to Islam," BMI said in a statement.
BMI, which started operating low-cost flights to Israel more than a year ago, denied it had any ulterior motive in showing the Israel-free maps.
"If BMI had any political agenda in order not to anger neighboring countries, it would not have invested so much in the Tel Aviv line," it said.
But after furious passengers took up the issue with the authorities, an Israeli official made it clear that either the Jewish state appears on the maps or BMI disappears from its skies.
"Doing business with Israel has its advantages and disadvantages, but we will not agree to a situation where they hide the existence of Israel but want to do business with Israel," transport ministry director-general Gideon Sitterman told army radio.
"I intend to contact BMI chairman Nigel Turner in London and ask for some clarifications... it is unacceptable that we are wiped off the map," he said.
Foes of the Jewish state, including Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have called for Israel to be "wiped off the map."
This is not the first time Israel has come head-to-head with the technologies interfering in its version of geography. Last year the Israeli city of Kiryat Yam sued Google over references to the Palestinian Nakba, or Catastrophe, appeared when users scrolled over former Arab cities on the Google Earth application.
I intend to contact BMI chairman Nigel Turner in London and ask for some clarifications... it is unacceptable that we are wiped off the map
Gideon Sitterman, Israeli Transport Ministry