Apple says Palestine flag Jerusalem 'bug' was unintentional

Apple says Palestine flag Jerusalem 'bug' was unintentional
Tech giant Apple came under fire after it was found that its predictive emoji prompts a Palestine flag when users type in 'Jerusalem'
3 min read
Apple iPhone users found that a Palestine flag appears when users type in Jerusalem [Credit:TNA]

Apple on Thursday promised to stop a Palestinian flag emoji from being suggested to some iPhone users when they type "Jerusalem" in messages, after it sparked an antisemitism debate on social media on Tuesday.

The global tech company described the issue as a "bug" within the predictive emoji software, which triggered an online row that Apple was showing bias in light of the Israel-Gaza war.

Apple told The New Arab that the predictive emoji prompt was unintentional and will be fixed by the next iOS update. 

The quirk was pointed out on social media by British television presenter Rachel Riley, renewing debate over whether Israel or the Palestinians have the rightful claim to Jerusalem as their capital.

"When I type the capital of Israel, Jerusalem, I'm offered the Palestinian flag emoji," Riley wrote on Tuesday in a post on X, formerly Twitter, calling on Apple to explain.

She pointed out no flag emojis were suggested when an array of other capital cities were typed into iPhone messages.

"Showing double standards with respect to Israel is a form of antisemitism, which is itself a form of racism against Jewish people," Riley contended in the post.

She said the Palestinian flag emoji began popping up in connection with Jerusalem after a recent update of the iPhone operating system.

It is not the first time Israel's war on Gaza has impacted Apple.

Earlier in April, nearly 300 present and former staff members signed an open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook with concerns that the tech giant had neglected to acknowledge the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza.

The workers wrote to express their "disappointment and shock at the lack of care and understanding this company has given the Palestinian community".

The letter, published under the Apples4Ceasefire collective, noted that Cook was quick to express his condolences to Israel following the 7 October attacks, but was yet to do so for the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza.

It said that employees who had shown support for Palestinian people through wearing keffiyehs, badges or clothing had been accused of "breaking business conduct" and creating a "harmful environment".

"Team members have even been wrongfully terminated for this small show of solidarity, while our leadership ignores the pain and suffering our co-workers and their families are facing in Gaza," the letter read.

Under international law, Jerusalem is not recognised as the capital of Israel. East Jerusalem is Palestinian territory under illegal Israeli occupation and is hoped to be the capital of a future Palestinian state. 

The events of the 1948 Arab-Israel war resulted in the partitioning of Jerusalem as the state of Israel was created, with its western half coming under Israeli control and the eastern half falling into Jordanian control.

East Jerusalem came under Israeli control following the Six Day War in 1967 and has been occupied illegally since. Nearly 40 percent of East Jerusalem's population are illegal Israeli settlers.