The iNakba App and Its Features
The iNakba app, which stands at the heart of this chapter, is a mnemonic device, an “electronic monument” whose goal is to influence public discourse regarding the Nakba. Designed by an Israeli NGO, the app operates in the Israeli political environment and its distinctive Nakba memory. Indeed, the unique characteristics of new media are being utilized, and the discussion that follows demonstrates how new technological capabilities operate as a reminder for a society that seeks to forget.
The iNakba app “provides coordinates and maps of Palestinian localities that were completely ruined, destroyed, obliterated after their capture, partially demolished, or remained standing but were depopulated and their residents expelled.”4 Thus, as the iNakba is based on users’ ability to navigate from one place to another through the built-in GPS navigation systems that are an integral part of contemporary smartphones, it is a technology that first and foremost relies on new media’s mobility (Fig. 8.1).
The app is only accessible in a mobile environment, making it available only to mobile device users. It is offered only through online app stores for both Apple and Android operating systems and cannot be used on a laptop or a personal computer. The app is available also for tablets (such as iPads and the like), yet tablet users will face compatibility problems as the app was not originally designed for them and because most tablets do not have the ability to connect to the cellular Internet infrastructure.
iNakba’s users can navigate to destroyed Palestinian localities in three different ways. The first is by locating destroyed villages that were once found near the user’s current location, the second is by searching for a specific village using the app’s search box in the upper right part of the screen, and the third is by entering the menu box in the lower left corner of the screen and scrolling through a list of all the destroyed localities shown.
After choosing the desired village and entering the village’s page in the application, users can press on the Directions button, located in the lower- right-hand corner of the screen. In the next window they will be able to choose between two different navigation apps that should be available on their smartphone: Waze or Google Maps. Choosing Google Maps, for example, will open the external application, and directions for navigation from the user’s current location to the site of the destroyed Palestinian village will follow. Interestingly, before choosing the desired navigation app, iNakba’s developers inserted a text regarding “some tips that can help you locate accurately the places you’re looking for.” According to these tips, “a great many of the destroyed Palestinian towns and villages are now located in remote, unsettled areas that are sometimes inaccessible by road.” Thus, users are warned that from time to time the external navigation app “will not always help you pinpoint [the village’s] exact location.”
These warnings reveal an important point: while mobility is a fundamental aspect of iNakba, facts on the ground (such as the current remoteness of villages that were once central to the land’s topography) may undermine the media’s potential to “bring to life” silenced and suppressed narratives.
Fig. 8.1 The iNakba app