In May 2014, Zochrot—a radical Israeli nongovernmental organization (NGO)—was the focus of widespread mainstream media coverage featuring itsiNakba mobile application (app). Articles on the app and Zochrot were published in The New York Times, The Washington Post,Haaretz, The Christian Science Monitor, Time Magazine, and several prominent blogs. Most, including The New York Times, promoted Zochrot’s agenda while others, such as The Washington Post, included some criticism.
Designed and promoted as a vehicle for drawing attention—particularly among journalists—to the Palestinian narrative of the 1948 war, iNakba features an interactive map and photos of pre-1948 Arab villages and encourages the “right of return” narrative through crowd sourcing. As stated by The New York Times, “Perhaps the app’s greatest promise is its social component—users can upload photos and videos, or ‘follow’ villages to virtually recreate lost communities.” Small wonder that the release of the app was timed to coincide with Israel’s sixty-sixth Independence Day (May 15) and the Nakba (catastrophe) as Palestinians and Arabs call this event.
While Zochrot has promoted this inverted narrative of “historic injustice” for many years, its sudden transformation from a fringe political NGO into a major media attraction was made possible by a steep increase in funding from European governments, often channeled through Christian international development and humanitarian aid organizations without any public scrutiny or parliamentary control. This funding grew from some 950,000 NIS (Israeli new shekels) in 2005 to 1,868,485 NIS (more than $500,000) in 2013. Such funding is far from unique and can be viewed as a showcase for a wider phenomenon: the central role of European governments and Christian aid organizations in promoting a radical, anti-Israel agenda.