Not everyone tracks the flight path that blinks on those little electronic maps installed on jet tray tables, and many travelers prefer to watch the in-flight movie instead. Yet the omission of Israeli cities on an airline's progress marker infuriated a plane load of charter passengers flying to Tel Aviv recently. Rhetorical threats to "wipe Israel off the map" had been shrugged off by Israelis for many months, but a British-owned airline had the temerity to actually do the deed. What's more, from the map's route, it appeared that they all were being redirected towards Mecca. What about Al Quds? Or Tel Aviv? Grumbles mounted into outrage.
The British company bmi--which stands for British Midlands, not Body Mass Index, by the way--say their map blunder was merely an oversight, and that the maps needed to be recalibrated for new flights into Israel. Two of bmi's lowcost flights now arrive every day at Ben Gurion airport. They asserted that there was no political agenda behind the act, but in a politic-addled Middle East, complaints and conspiracy theories quickly spiralled. After considerable fallout in the press and fury on the airwaves of Army Radio stations inside Israel, the company apologized, appropriately, on May Day.
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has become the face of evil here in Israel ever since his election, has repeatedly questioned Israel's legitimacy (as in his often-mistranslated statement about Israel "vanishing from the page of time" -- wiping maps apparently is not on his agenda.) Apparently, he's leaving that act to Heathrow's second largest airline, which currently is discussing opening a route into Baghdad. You couldn't make these things up.