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Siri doesn’t know what time it is in Palestine (but it’s fine with Israel)

Ask Siri what time it is in Palestine. Doesn’t work. Ask Siri what time it is in Israel, and it’ll tell you the time in Jerusalem, no problem.

Maybe it’s a city thing. Ask Siri what the time is in Bethlehem and see if it knows. Doesn’t seem to work.

Try Jerusalem – Siri nails it, of course. Can’t help you with East Jerusalem, though, which is generally recognised as being part of Palestine.

Mindful Traveller tries a few Palestinian cities on TikTok. No luck. I tried them here in Australia. Same result.1

Let’s try some other small countries. Brunei is tiny – smaller than Palestine – and Siri knows the time there. Cyprus? Got it. Samoa? All good.2 Whatever database Siri is using doesn’t go by size (which, to be fair, would be weird).

Update: After some more playing around, it looks like Siri doesn’t know many, if any, “disputed territories”. Nick Heer noted as much on Twitter and it reaffirms what I mentioned in footnote two.

So it looks like whatever database Siri is pulling from for country info has its limits. In this particular instance – Palestine/Israel – it’s reinforcing Israel is what you can politely call a heated and violent struggle. Defaults, as ever, matter.

Weather is weird, too: if you ask Siri what the weather is in Israel, it’ll tell you the temperature in Jerusalem. If you ask it about Palestine, you’ll be told “there’s no weather information”.

Ask it about a Palestinian city – say, Bethlehem, you’ll get an answer using data from The Weather Channel. But it won’t say “Bethlehem, Palestine” the way it says the weather in “Jerusalem, Israel” or “Tel Avis-Yafo, Israel”.

Palestine just doesn’t exist.

Regardless of your stance on the Israel/Palestine conflict, this functionally erases an entire people.

  1. Same thing when I ask Google. 

  2. Siri also doesn’t know what time it is in Kosovo – a “partially recognised state in Southeast Europe,” having declared independence from Serbia in 2008. 

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