Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Is Wikipedia biased against Israel?

Allegations of Wikipedia bias

Allegations of Wikipedia disinformation have been around a long time. It is certainly inevitable as an encyclopedia that (mostly) anyone can edit. As early as 2005 John Seigenthaler Sr, a journalist and writer, wrote an editorial in USA Today excoriating Wikipedia for his false biography. His biography included the spurious accusation that Seigenthaler was "thought to have been directly involved in the Kennedy assassinations of both John, and his brother, Bobby."

Seigenthaler wrote:
When I was a child, my mother lectured me on the evils of "gossip." She held a feather pillow and said, "If I tear this open, the feathers will fly to the four winds, and I could never get them back in the pillow. That's how it is when you spread mean things about people."

For me, that pillow is a metaphor for Wikipedia.

Since 2005 and this notorious incident, Wikipedia has made some changes in its "Biography of Living People" policies essentially in order to avoid suits and legal problems; but its policies in contentious areas do very little to prevent racism or other forms of political bigotry, which remain very much there. Policies are in place, but are broad enough or unenforceable enough that there is plenty of "gossip," to put it kindly, masquerading as "fact" in Wikipedia today.

Liberal bias has long been asserted on Wikipedia. Matthew Sheffield, writing for the Washington Post, accused Wikipedia of having "tilted leftward." Indeed the bias was pronounced enough to prompt the creation of the conservative wiki called Conservapedia with its article called "Examples of Bias in Wikipedia"

John Farrell, writing for Cosmos Magazine in 2007 noted:

"An increasing number of academics - many of whom have helped edit the resource to maintain informal quality control - are concerned that Wikipedia is becoming a stronghold for cranks: people who anonymously submit and edit entries on pet subjects to bolster the credibility of highly questionable theories."

Equally concerning for some of us are the allegations that Wikipedia is anti-Israel, and that the "highly questionable theories" being pumped out are pumped out by "cranks" with axes to grind.

In 2008, David Shamah, writing for the Jerusalem Post in his article "The other side of Wikipedia, writes
As most of us have come to realize, it's too late for Wikipedia, as far as Israel is concerned. The "Npov" crowd (an acronym for the supposedly Neutral Point of View of Wikipedia editors) have basically installed themselves in the positions of editorial authority that control the site.
So, for someone looking for the truth about Israel, Wikpedia is pretty much a dead end - it seems to carry only the "truth" as approved by the international Arab propaganda machine."

But is it merely Israel? Or is there an anti-Jewish bias as well? Stephen Dubner notes
"Also, FWIW, has anyone else noticed that Wikipedia entries often exhibit a rather serious interest in a subject’s religious background? particularly if the subject is Jewish?It turns out that Sergey Brin of Google has also noticed this."

And in fact, Google co-founder Sergey Brin, in this 2007 interview, specifically fingers Wikipedia when asked if he has experienced antisemitism.

"'I’ve experienced it',he tells me. 'Usually it is fairly subtle. People harp on all media companies being run by Jewish executives, with the implication of a conspiracy.' As an example, he cites the entry about him in Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia that famously accepts submissions and edits from anyone. 'The Wikipedia page about me will be subtly edited in an anti-Semitic way,' he says."

Author Karen McQuillan, in a FrontPageMag article entitled ''Wikipedia's Jewish Problem'' describes the editing environment at Wikipedia:

Unless you like endless fighting with anti-Semites and Israel-haters, it is not pleasant to try to contribute to topics dealing with Israel. Major topics like Jerusalem or the Holocaust attract enough attention that destructive editors’ depredations are kept at a minimum.

Propaganda purporting to be reference material, such as "Israel and the Apartheid Analogy," is tolerated although it is against the rules.

This system has not worked well on Jewish or Israel related topics. As Larry Sanger points out, it is a system that is easily gamed by the malicious, abetted by a nerd culture that doesn’t understand proper supervision.

Recent articles bemoaning Wikipedia's Israeli coverage include articles in the left-wing Israeli paper, Ha'aretz "Wikipedia editors: Coverage of Israel 'problematic," in which author Cnaan Liphshiz notes that "[Wikipedia] Editors say world's fourth most popular Web site presents "problematic views on Hamas, Iran, Holocaust denial."

Haviv Gur, in the Jerusalem Post, describes the anti-Israel editors as "anti-Israel 'mobs'" and part of international campaign to erode Israel’s legitimacy" which is "slowly expanding its reach into the online encyclopedia Wikipedia..." adding,

However, in recent months, Israeli editors have sensed a growing presence of pro-Palestinian activists who have begun to develop ways to sidestep these controls. The result has been the introduction of narratives that question Israel’s legitimacy and advocate international legal and political action against the Jewish state.

These activists also use teams of like-minded editors working together to sustain debates about new edits ad infinitum, thus improving the chances that their changes will be accepted and preventing the removal of any claims they have added.

Other methods used by editors to push their political view into the encyclopedia include censorship and personal attacks.

In an article by Andre Oboler (a one-time editor in Wikipedia) and others, the authors show how biased editors can write articles and censor out criticism of a favored subject. "Yet Wikipedia as a system doesn't seem to know how to deal with this damage, or perhaps it is just that various admins don't want to get involved? Either way the system relies on people's honesty and continues to be broken as Palestinian advocates seek to exploit it," Oboler notes in an article in AISH.

As Matthew Sheffield says "What this means in practical terms is that people with enough determination to force their viewpoints on Wikipedia can do so."

Add to this numerous Arabs, Muslims, and Islamists along with garden-variety antisemites on Wikipedia and if you imagine that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict area in Wikipedia is rife with anti-Israel ("anti-Zionist") propaganda, and you would be right.

This anti-Israel bias has not escaped the notice of mainstream media, "leading" editors of Wikipedia or the government of Israel. One such editor of Wikipedia was invited to Israel by the Foreign Ministry.

In 2009, David Saranga from the Consulate General in New York, invited Wiki editor David Shankbone and a dozen or so American journalists to Israel in hopes of expanding their (the US media's) "one-dimensional view of Israel."

Saranga says Wikipedia is generally fair in regard to Israel. He is unfazed when he hears that the entry on Israel mentions the word "occupation" nine times, whereas the entry on the Palestinian People mentions "terror" only once. "It means only one thing: Israelis should be more active on Wikipedia. Instead of blaming it, they should go on the site much more, and try and change it."

Jimbo Wales also called on Israelis to join Wikipedia just last year.

Indeed Wikipedia could use an infusion of Israelis and pro-Israel Jews and others to counteract the Arab propaganda "mob," or at least to provide some balance to many of the articles. However, as Karen McQuillan noted above, it requires "endless fighting with anti-Semites and Israel-haters."

Wikipedia claims to be based on "Five Pillars" or fundamental principles. Presenting a neutral point of view, is one, and respectful interaction another. When it comes to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, neither is upheld. In fact, in this area, it is not even true as claimed that it is an encyclopedia that "anyone can edit." The leftist/Arab/anti-Israel/antisemitic majority pushes and shoves and elbows out and finally bans any editors who support a fair and balanced approach to the subject.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Wikipedia: The New History? « The Activist Network

Wikipedia: The New History? « The Activist Network

Check out the Activist Network. But this story about Wikipedia and Israel is tops. Having once edited Wikipedian, I can tell you this story is right-on. If you have time, some writing ability, and the stomach for it, I urge you to go to Wikipedia and give them the real facts about Israel. Here is what the activist network
has to say:

The Not So Silent War of Words

There is an information war being held on the online battlefield of Wikipedia. is an online encyclopedia which is user-base driven and claims 65,000,000 monthly visits from unsuspecting information-seekers. It is also used as a dependable source for research in the mainstream media outlets on a huge range of topics, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Unlike any other topic, it is so heated and has instigated its own online Wikipedia conflict, to a point where Wikipedia designated a special division called the IP (Israeli-Palestinian) Section to monitor edited information from contributing users.

The site works in a way that allows anyone with internet access and a user-name to edit Wikipedia articles. This means that although anyone can contribute, the contribution or editor is screened by the fellow editors of that article, not by Wikipedia. For example, if the majority of editors on a particular article are liberal, a conservative editor will be scrutinized and have difficulty retaining an edit before the majority liberal editors easily undo or re-edit.

Having said that, there is a certain amount of objectivity that is maintained in most articles, but many users are learning that when it comes to IP, Wikipedia is not objective or neutral, but filled with Palestinian sympathizers determined to undermine Israel’s legitimacy. They are using unethical tactics by Wikipedia standards to ensure the Israeli position is not presented in its articles. In fact, administrators who are supposed to be maintaining objectivity in IP articles are quick to block pro-Israel contributors and their edits for no legitimate reason.

It has gotten to a dangerous, out-of-hand situation simply because there are many more pro-Palestinian editors than Israel supporters. Lies are being disseminated virally. Thus, any pro-Israel contributor is easily labeled and dismissed as a biased source, while the Palestinian supporters hide behind their screens and continue to shape anti-Israel public opinion and rewrite history. For instance, if one looks up “Deir Yassin,” an article titled the “Deir Yassin Massacre” will be pulled up on Wikipedia. Deir Yassin by numerous accounts was not a massacre and many attempts to change the title were dismissed without giving any weight to the legitimate sources referenced. Clearly, the article itself is riddled with questionable facts and half truths, but the point is that one does not have to get beyond the title to see the bias. For more recent examples of the edit wars we are up against, take a look at the Gaza Flotilla article or the Helen Thomas article. You may be frustrated by what you read, but if you don’t remain apathetic you can actually do something about it.

You see, unlike other media outlets, there is no barrier to entry to Wikipedia, so in minutes you can get involved and make a difference. The more Wiki editors we are, the more impact we can have in countering the heavy anti-Israel slant. This is all you have to do to become an editor:

1) Log on to

2) Click top right to create an account – which requires no personal information

3) Create a non-provocative user ID so as not to give credit to accusations of bias

4) Preferably begin by editing non-controversial articles so as to gain a respected reputation and avoid being labeled as a single purpose account. All edits must be sourced (see Wiki guidelines for acceptable sources)

5) Gradually begin edits on IP articles, taking great care to reference solid sources

Because Wikipedia is a numbers game, once there are enough pro Western editors working in tandem, the anti-Western folks and their sympathizers will hopefully be held to a higher standard of proof. Wikipedia is known to minimize pro-Israel editors relative to the pro-Palestinian editors and they have banned pro-Israel editors from the site without cause, so be sure to keep all correspondence civil so as not to give them an excuse.

If you have any technical questions about editing and more complex Wiki behaviors, or for short instructional seminars, please email....

Contact information at the site here. Go take a look around.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

VDH's Private Papers:: The Psychology of Recession

by the great Victor Davis Hanson in the National Review Online

I asked a businessman two weeks ago why he said that he was neither hiring nor buying new equipment. He started in on “rising taxes.”

“But wait,” I interrupted. I pointed out that income-tax hikes haven’t taken effect. The old FICA income caps are also still applicable. Healthcare surcharges haven’t hit us yet.

He countered with “regulations” and “bailouts.” I said, “Come on, get specific.” He offered up “cap and trade” and “the Chrysler creditors.” I parried with more demands that he tell me exactly how the federal government has suddenly curbed his profit margins, or how his electric bill had gone up since January 2009, or whether he had lost money on any investment because the government had violated a contract.

Exasperated, he talked now instead of more cosmic issues — the astronomical borrowing, the staggering national debt, and the new protectionism. I pressed again, “But aren’t interest rates historically low? Inflation is almost non-existent, isn’t it? New products are still comparatively cheap? Rents and new business property are at bargain-basement prices?”

This give-and-take went on for ten minutes; but you get the picture. Private enterprise is wary, hesitant, even frightened, but nevertheless hard pressed to demonstrate in concrete fashion how Obama has quite ruined them in just 18 months.

So why are a lot of cash-solvent financial firms, banks, and manufacturing companies not hiring, not expanding, and not buying new operating equipment as they did in past bottoming-out recessions?

Answer here.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Obama vs George

Got this email and BY GEORGE, it is correct!

I will not say GWB was my favorite President; in fact he wasn’t even close to being one by a long shot. However, these questions are certainly legitimate but they continue to be ignored by the mainstream media when in the prior administration they would have been repeated a multitude of times on every station just to be sure everyone knew of it. When Bush mispronounced a word, he was touted as an ignorant jerk, yet when done by President Obama, you will never hear another word about it. Why is that?

If George W. Bush had been the first President to need a TelePrompTer installed to be able to get through a press conference, would you have laughed and said this is more proof of how inept he is on his own and is really controlled by smarter men behind the scenes?

If George W. Bush had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to take Laura Bush to a play in NYC, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had reduced your retirement plan's holdings of GM stock by 90% and given the unions a majority stake in GM, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had made a joke at the expense of the Special Olympics, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had given Gordon Brown a set of inexpensive and incorrectly formatted DVDs, when Gordon Brown had given him a thoughtful and historically significant gift, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had given the Queen of England an iPod containing videos of his speeches, would you have thought this embarrassingly narcissistic and tacky?

If George W. Bush had bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia , would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had visited Austria and made reference to the nonexistent "Austrian language," would you have brushed it off as a minor slip?

If George W. Bush had filled his cabinet and circle of advisers with people who cannot seem to keep current in their income taxes, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had stated that there were 58 (“I’ve been to 57 and have one more to go”) states in the United States , would you have said that he is clueless? Would you have asked yourself if he really knew anything about our Country or its history?

If George W. Bush would have flown all the way to Denmark to make a five minute speech about how the Olympics would benefit him walking out his front door in Texas , would you have thought he was a self important, conceited, egotistical jerk?

If George W. Bush had been so Spanish illiterate as to refer to "Cinco de Cuatro" in front of the Mexican ambassador when it was the 5th of May (Cinco de Mayo), and continued to flub it when he tried again, would you have winced in embarrassment?

If George W. Bush had misspelled the word "advice" would you have hammered him for it for years like Dan Quayle and potatoes as proof of what a dunce he is?

If George W. Bush repeatedly kept referring to and pronouncing the Marine “Corps” as if it were a dead corpse, would you have asked yourself if he was truly intelligent or just a puppet?

If George W. Bush had burned 9,000 gallons of jet fuel to go plant a single tree on Earth Day, would you have concluded he's a hypocrite?

If George W. Bush's administration had okayed Air Force One flying low over millions of people followed by a jet fighter in downtown Manhattan causing widespread panic, would you have wondered whether they actually get what happened on 9-11?

If George W. Bush had failed to send relief aid to flood victims throughout the Midwest with more people killed or made homeless than in New Orleans , would you want it made into a major ongoing political issue with claims of racism and incompetence?

If George W. Bush had created the position of more than 32 Czars who report directly to him, bypassing the House and Senate on much of what is happening in America , would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had ordered the firing of the CEO of a major corporation, even though he had no constitutional authority to do so, would you have approved?

Why is it okay for the media to condemn George W. Bush for a six minute delay in response to the first plane crash into the Trade Center while trying not to alarm kindergarten children, yet when Obama takes many weeks to respond to the Gulf Oil Spill disaster no one says a thing?

If George W. Bush had proposed to double the national debt, which had taken more than two centuries to accumulate, in one year, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had then proposed to double the debt again within 10 years, would you have approved?

So, tell me again, what is it about Obama that makes him so brilliant and impressive? Can't think of anything? Don't worry. He's done all this in 15 months -- so you'll have two years and nine months to come up with an answer.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Problem With Arab Denial

Ari Lieberman for the ''Jewish News''

The Arabs have long been delusional. This terrific article reviews the Arab-Israeli wars and the Arab and Muslim connection with reality.
On October 6, 1973, Yom Kippur Day, Egypt and Syria launched a coordinated assault against Israel. Under cover of heavy artillery and aerial bombardment, the Egyptians crossed the Suez Canal and stormed Israel’s neglected Bar-Lev fortifications. Several hundred miles to the north, a thousand Syrian tanks accompanied by anti-tank guide missile squads crashed through the Golan Heights. Facing them were a mere 177 Israeli tanks.

After 18 days of bitter fighting, the picture on the ground appeared vastly different from those first precarious days. In the North, the Syrians were in full retreat. Their destroyed and abandoned tanks littered the Golan and the Israelis stood a mere 20 miles from Damascus. The situation for the Egyptians was no better. The bulk of their army was trapped and surrounded by the Israel Defense Forces and there was nothing to stop the Israelis from advancing on Cairo. In fact, the Arab situation was so dire that the Soviets threatened direct military intervention unless Israel stopped its offensive, prompting the U.S. to heighten DEFCON readiness and place its 6th Fleet on alert.

Strangely, October 6 is marked yearly as a holiday in Egypt. There are military parades and patriotic songs play over government controlled radio. Egyptians are taught that the Yom Kippur War, or as they call it, the Ramadan War, was an Egyptian victory. Despite the fact that their army was hopelessly trapped, despite the fact that the IDF was operating with impunity over a large swath of land in Africa, despite the fact that the Egyptians suffered tens of thousands dead and wounded, despite the fact that their Syrian allies suffered equal devastation and despite the fact that the Soviets had to bail them out (again), the Egyptians still call it a victory. Strange, indeed.

Fast-forward nine years. On June 6, 1982 the IDF invaded Lebanon. Within six days, its forces swept aside PLO and Syrian resistance and were on the outskirts of Beirut, trapping some 7,000 PLO fighters in the Lebanese capital. Within two months, the PLO was expelled from Lebanon and banished to scattered destinations throughout the Middle East. Their humiliating exit from the Lebanese capital was accompanied by celebratory gunfire as if they had achieved a glorious victory. So many bullets were fired into the air that dozens of Fatah terrorists were injured by falling lead. Yasser Arafat even compared the Battle of Beirut to the Battle of Stalingrad. Obviously, nobody had told Arafat that the Russians actually won that battle.

On July 12, 2006, twenty-four years after the First Lebanon War, Israel was again forced to fight a war in Lebanon, this time against a foe called Hezbollah. The war was sparked by a serious Hezbollah border provocation.

After 33 days of fighting, the IDF was in control of every single Lebanese village in the sub-Litani region (from Israel’s northern border to the Litani River near Tyre). Hezbollah lost a third of its elite fighting force and by some estimates, up to a thousand killed in action. Damage to Hezbollah’s infrastructure was equally severe and the billions the terrorist group and its Iranian sponsors spent in developing its military capabilities went up in smoke. Whole Shi’a neighborhoods were obliterated and, despite the passing of three years, the scars of war are still evident throughout Lebanon. Hezbollah was pushed away from the border and the organization was forced to allow the Lebanese Army to deploy there in its place, something its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, vowed he would never allow. Pouring salt on Hezbollah’s wounds, UNFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) was enlarged and now included a big European contingent led by French and Italian troops. The new reality meant that Hezbollah could no longer operate with impunity in the sub-Litani region, as this would necessarily invite confrontation with the Lebanese Army and the Europeans. Moreover, Iran and Syria had hoped to utilize Hezbollah as a deterrent against any Israeli strike against those rogue countries. By prematurely provoking a fight with Israel without strategic purpose, Hezbollah, Iran and Syria exposed their hand and gained nothing. The Israeli home front absorbed the worst that Hezbollah had to offer and escaped relatively unscathed.

Political commentators, academics and defense analysts have, for the most part, recognized the Second Lebanon war as a strategic loss for Hezbollah and a victory for Israel. Indeed, Nasrallah himself, facing growing domestic criticism, admitted that he vastly underestimated the strength of Israel’s response and stated that he would not have provoked Israel had he known that it would lead to war. Yet shortly after offering this humbling statement, Nasrallah boasted (from his underground hideout) that Hezbollah had scored a “divine victory” over Israel.

What leader apologizes for and doubts the wisdom of starting a war that leads to “divine victory” for his people? Perhaps Michael Young of Lebanon’s “Daily Star” summed it up best when he wrote, “one dreads to imagine what Hezbollah would recognize as a military loss.”

In December 2008, just two years after Nasrallah’s colossal blunder, 26 years after the PLO’s humiliating Beirut expulsion and 35 years after Egypt’s disastrous Yom Kippur misadventure, Hamas decided that it, too, wanted to join the Arab humiliation club. It violated an agreed-upon ceasefire by unilaterally firing deadly rocket salvos at Israeli towns. In the three weeks of war that followed, Israel killed 709 Hamas combatants including senior commanders and bomb makers for losses of 9 IDF soldiers, a kill ratio of nearly 80 to 1. Hamas failed to hit a single Israeli tank and its “fighters” chose to run or surrender rather than fight. Yet in the midst of a smoldering Gaza with his guerilla fighters in tatters and scattering in different directions, Ismail Haniyeh emerged from his underground hospital bunker (after Israel had already left, of course) to declare victory over the Zionists.

Once again Israel had scored a major military and strategic victory and once again an Arab leader defied logic and reality by declaring victory over the “Zionist imperialists.”

Aside from being motivated by a hatred of anything not Islamic, these wars demonstrate another common theme: the Arabs live in a state of perpetual delusional fantasy. Their reality is so steeped in fantasy that it almost makes Disney’s Alice in Wonderland appear as reality. But there is logic behind this absurd, seemingly bizarre and irrational behavior.
The Islamic antagonists facing Israel and the West are indoctrinated in a convoluted mixture of radical Islam, extreme fanaticism and a depraved hatred of anything un-Islamic. Some refer to this as Islamofacism. Admitting defeat would require the Arabs to acknowledge that within a sixty-year span, they have been defeated nine times by the non-believing heretics. This, in turn, would undermine the core of their belief system. After all, how could Allah abandon them nine straight times? Unless of course, Allah doesn’t adhere to the corrupted form of Islam they espouse. That would mean that everything they were spoon-fed from birth, all the hate and religious fanaticism, was a lie and their sacrifices were in vain. No virgins awaited them in paradise.

Thus, denial runs deep in the Islamofacist mindset. Seemingly bizarre claims of “divine victory” or ludicrous comparisons with Stalingrad are more than empty rhetoric. They are coping mechanisms designed to deal with a reality they prefer to ignore. Until this bankrupted belief system is rejected by level-headed, moderate Muslims, the Arabs are likely to continue experiencing defeat and likely to continue proclaiming phantom victories while their people live in abject poverty and die by the tens of thousands.

read it at Yeshiva World