The Weather Channel digital under fire for classifying Jerusalem as the 'State of Palestine'

The digital component of The Weather Channel has come under scrutiny over the notion that Jerusalem has been formally listed as in the “State of Palestine” on the world’s most popular and trusted forecasting website.

Searches from Google – with results then powered by The Weather Channel site – classify the Holy City as being situated in Palestine, while internal searches appear to vacillate between Jerusalem, Israel, and Jerusalem, State of Palestine.

For some Jewish activists, it’s nothing short of an outrage.

"The media's intellectual dishonesty toward Israel that's rampant and unfortunately on full display day in and day out, is something us in the pro-Israel community have unfortunately grown accustomed to,” public relations executive and activist, Joshua Nass, told Fox News. “But that a seemingly innocuous outlet that folks use to simply find out weather forecasts, is being used as a political weapon to delegitimize the state of Israel? That is unprecedented and an outrage worthy of exposing with all our might.”


While television network component of The Weather Channel was last year acquired by media mogul Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios from The Blackstone Group, Bain Capital and Comcast/NBCUniversal, the digital assets including and its app remain under the umbrella of IBM’s The Weather Company division, which bought them in early 2016.

"Thank you for bringing this to our attention. This seems to be a technical issue in our system causing two different results to surface, which we are investigating and will work to resolve as soon as possible," an IBM spokeswoman told Fox News, via email.

A representative for the company later told Fox News that it was a mistake and has since been corrected.

"It's important to note that any searches for Jerusalem weather on The Weather Channel app and surfaced results for 'Jerusalem, Israel,'" the rep added. "This particular issue occurred when users searched on external search engines, which would direct to an old page that should have been removed. We have fixed this issue, and search engine inquiries for Jerusalem weather will surface results for 'Jerusalem, Israel.'"

Palestinians pray in front of the Dome of the Rock shrine during a holy month of Ramadan, in Jerusalem, Friday, May 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

Palestinians pray in front of the Dome of the Rock shrine during a holy month of Ramadan, in Jerusalem, Friday, May 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

The multiple Nobel Prize-winning International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) is a U.S-headquartered information technology conglomerate, with operations spanning more than 170 countries. According to the Dow Jones Industrial Average, it has almost 400,000 employees and is deemed one of the world’s biggest employers with almost two-thirds located outside the U.S. The largest employee base is in India.


It also remains somewhat unclear if the classification changes depending on which state the search is stemming from.

“I suspect that the website tests the Internet IP address for each page inquiry.  An IP address identifies which region or county the viewer is coming from. The site looks to be programmed to adjust whether Jerusalem is labeled as being in Israel or the State of Palestine depending on where it thinks you are,” noted Dennis Santiago, a Los Angeles-based Global Risk and Policy expert.  “Based on the behavior of the site and how it blinks an auto-refresh, I suspect that the default is Palestine and the change to Israel may be specific to browsers determined to be from the United States.”


And from Nass’s point-of-view, “there ought to be boycotts of the company unless they make a sincere apology after such a flagrant anti-Israel statement.”

“That's what this is; a statement. A political statement,” he continued. “And to say otherwise, is intellectually dishonest and best, and an absolute and utter lie and cover-up at worst."

Last year, the United States made the controversial move of officially relocating its Embassy to Jerusalem and declared it to be Israel’s capital; but since 2012 it has had “non-member observer” status as a state in the United Nations.