By Sam Lee
Wikipedia organizes its article topics into categories, which assists the reader in locating articles related to a general field of interest… or, it helps propagandists to consolidate their preferred bias over a broad topic area, depending on your point of view. If you look at Category:Murdered Israeli children (T–H–L) you will note that all the listed 32 articles in this category have one thing in common: they were killed by Arabs, or, in a case where the killer has not been apprehended; were suspected of being killed by an Arab.
Now this is strange, as it is a sad fact that in the industrialised world, the majority of murdered children are killed by a parent, or other next of kin. Take the US, for example, where more than half of all infanticides (killing of children less than the age of 5) are committed by a parent, while only 10-20% are committed by a stranger, or by parties unknown.
Alas, if you follow the Israeli media, you will soon find that there is no lack of children being killed by a family member there, either. A study in 2010 showed that 40 Israeli children had been killed by a parent in the previous 7 years.
And after that, we have had:
2010: Omer, 10 years old, Roni, 8, and Or, 5, killed by their father, Itay Ben Dror
2013: Yahav, 5 and Eden, 3, killed by their father, Eli Gur
2013: Igor, 7, and Mira, 5 , killed by their mother, Karina Brill
2014: Yishai, 11, and Sara, 10, killed by their father, Avi Levy
Alas, these children will never get their own pages on Wikipedia.
They were not killed by Arabs.
Almost the same goes for Category:Israeli murder victims (T–H–L): 27 out of 29 murdered Israelis were murdered by Arabs. Does that reflect reality? Not a chance. But people like Noa Eyal, or her killer, Daniel Nachmani, will never get a Wikipedia article, (in spite of extensive media coverage)…
…as the perpetrator was… Jewish.
What about Palestinian murder victims? The category Category:Murdered Palestinian children (T–H–L) does not exist, but Category:Palestinian children (T–H–L) does, and 4 out of 5 articles there are about children who have been killed. All have been killed by the Israeli military. 3 out of these 4 articles have survived a “deletion request,” a bureaucratic procedure at Wikipedia where Wikipedians may propose that an article be deleted, typically due to lack of “notability”. Like any other Wikipedia policy, the “deletion request” is often an arena of combat for contending teams of propagandists.
We can note that there are almost ten times as many articles about murdered Israeli children, as there are articles about murdered Palestinian children. Does this reflect the numbers killed?
The Israeli non-governmental organization B’Tselem (T–H–L) calculates that for the period 2009-2014, ten times as many Palestinian children were killed by Israeli forces, as there were Israeli citizens killed by Palestinians. And this does not include those killed during the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict (T–H–L). Rememberthesechildren.org gives about the same proportions; since year 2000, 1656 Palestinian vs. 131 Israeli children have been killed.
If Wikipedia were to reflect reality, then there should be 10 times as many articles about killed Palestinian children as that of Israeli. Instead, it is the other way around.
Why is this?
Over the years that Wikipedia has existed, countless recruitment drives have been made to encourage pro-Israeli editors to edit Wikipedia. Some have been noted in the press:
The right’s latest weapon: ‘Zionist editing’ on Wikipedia, Haaretz
Wikipedia Editing for Zionists, New York Times
Wikipedia editing courses launched by Zionist groups, The Guardian
Zionist Internet Struggle to Hit Wikipedia, Israel National News,
Wikipedia: A New Battleground in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, The Daily Beast
West Bank Settlers Take To Wikipedia, Haaretz
Aligning text to the right: Is a political organization editing Wikipedia to suit its interests? Haaretz
To the best of our knowledge, no similar active recruitment effort has been made to get pro-Palestinian editors to edit Wikipedia.
In one of the more infamous recruitment drives, the so called CAMERA affair, editor Zeq (T–C–L) stated the goal clearly: any time a “Hamas person” says something stupid, start a Wikipedia article about him. He might have further suggested that any time a Palestinian/Muslim person does something bad, or is even suspected of doing something bad, start an article about him.
Besides creating articles about “Hamas people saying something stupid”, propagandists are also very active in every AfD (Article for Deletion) debate, making sure that articles about killed Palestinians get deleted. So we have Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Rania Siam (T–H–L) (deleted); Rania Iyad Aram (T–H–L) (deleted); Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Jihad Shaar (T–H–L) (deleted); and Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Ghadeer Jaber Mkheemar (T–H–L) (deleted). Killed Palestinian children should remain faceless and nameless, and Wikipedia editors are here just continuing the censorship from elsewhere; see this Guardian article: Israel bans radio advert listing names of children killed in Gaza (and here is a link to the B’Tselem press release.)
The co-founder of Wikipedia claims that ”every Wikipedia editor has a responsibility to try to be neutral”, and that “the community” enforces this. Anyone with a familiarity with the Israel/Palestine area on Wikipedia knows that this is complete rubbish. Over at Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Enforcement (T–H–L) it is taken for granted that editors are there to promote their POV (point of view), rather than to seek neutrality.
Jimmy Wales has an almost religious conviction that “crowd-sourcing” works, even for contentious subjects. The reality on the ground shows he might just as well believe in magic pixies, spreading their magic pixie dust all over Wikipedia, making it an objective reflection of the world.
Image credits: Flickr/wackystuff, Eric Barbour ~ licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic