Wikipedia and the Israeli–Palestinian conflict

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

The Israeli–Palestinian conflict has been covered extensively on Wikipedia.[1] External groups have initiated editing campaigns, and the Israel–Hamas war intensified editing in the topic-area.

History

In September 2006, WikiProject Israel was established to improve coverage of Israel-related topics. WikiProject Palestine was created two months later. In 2008, the WikiProject Israel Palestine Cooperation was set up to reconcile the Israel and Palestine WikiProjects, with the project page stating, "In a subject plagued by conflicting historical narratives, we are working to make Wikipedia the conflict's most balanced reference point. Help us build bridges and break down barriers in the world's most intractable conflict."[2]

In 2008, after issues on the Second Intifada article and other articles related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict reached a fever pitch, Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee decided on a set of rules of conduct for editors when editing articles related to the conflict. Editors are required to have made over 500 edits for at least 30 days to edit articles related to the conflict, can only make one revert per day across the entire field, and can be banned from editing related articles. The ruling was reaffirmed and expanded in 2009 and 2015.[2]

In December 2017, after American president Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would be recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Wikipedia followed suit, which sparked a debate between editors. As of that time, the English and Hebrew articles said that Jerusalem was Israel's capital, while the Arabic article said that Israel claimed it as its capital, but it was located in occupied Palestine.[3]

In November 2020, Haaretz reported that the "West Bank bantustans" article comparing Israel's control of the West Bank to the Black-only enclaves in apartheid-era South Africa indicated a possible shift for Wikipedia's consensus on likening Israel to an apartheid regime. Editors noted the fact that the article survived a deletion proposal indicated that events such as the Trump peace plan and Benjamin Netanyahu's pledge to annex parts of the West Bank undermined Israel's talking point that it supported a two-state solution and strived to establish a Palestinian state.[4]

In February 2021, the Hebrew Wikipedia renamed its version of the article on the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, changing "occupation" to "rule".[5]

The Israel–Hamas war was extensively covered on Wikipedia and other related projects in various languages. This included articles about the 2023 Hamas-led attack on Israel starting from October 7, 2023, as well as the subsequent Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip and the Israeli invasion by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) in the following weeks.[6] Articles related to the war experienced edit warring due to the diversity of narratives from both sides of the conflict.[7][8]

Editing campaigns

In 2008, leaked emails from the pro-Israel watchdog Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) that purported to reveal an organised influence campaign on Wikipedia were published by The Electronic Intifada, a pro-Palestinian organisation.[9][2] The leaked emails resulted in at least five editors receiving lifetime bans on Wikipedia.[2]

In August 2010, two Israeli right-wing groups, the Yesha Council and My Israel, ran a course about Zionist editing on Wikipedia.[10][11] Yesha Council director Naftali Bennett said, "We don't want to change Wikipedia or turn it into a propaganda arm. We just want to show the other side. People think that Israelis are mean, evil people who only want to hurt Arabs all day."[10] In response, Abed A-Nassar, the chairman of the Association of Palestinian Journalists, called on Palestinian institutions to make Wikipedia articles more pro-Palestinian and counter what he called Israel's "public relations war".[12][11]

In 2013, news outlets including Haaretz and France24 reported the indefinite block of an editor who had concealed the fact that he was an employee of right-wing media group NGO Monitor. The editor was reported to have edited English Wikipedia articles on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict "in an allegedly biased manner".[13][14][15]

Responses

Haaretz journalist Omer Benjakob noted in 2021 that articles on the conflict are very different between the English, Hebrew and Arabic Wikipedias, and that the conflict is one of the three most regulated areas on English Wikipedia.[5] In 2023, Stephen Harrison of Slate wrote, "It shouldn't come as a surprise that Wikipedia is a better place to learn about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than X, TikTok, and other social media platforms are."[6]

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) stated in a March 2024 report that "the state of the articles dealing with the conflict is alarming in its lack of neutrality." The WJC also stated that Wikipedia's comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany article "normalizes the unacceptable comparison" due to terms such as "occupation" and "military actions". The WJC also reported that "deletion attacks" occurred on Wikipedia, which resulted in the simultaneous deletion nominations of the articles for the Netiv HaAsara, Nir Yitzhak and Holit massacres, as well as Inbal Rabin-Lieberman.[16]

Wikipedia

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales has said the topic is debated often but the site strives to be neutral.[17][18]

As of 2023, English Wikipedia articles on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict have "extended confirmed protection", meaning that only registered editor accounts with a certain age and number of edits can edit them.[6] The WJC commented that this "leaves many Israelis unable to edit articles about which they have great knowledge."[16]

Arabic Wikipedia logo

The Wikimedia Foundation issued a statement on December 4, 2023 titled "Wikimedia updates on the crisis in Gaza Strip and Israel", and another statement on December 5, 2023, calling for "an end to measures preventing access to the internet in the Gaza Strip".[19]

The Arabic Wikipedia changed its logo to the colors of the Palestinian flag and suspended editing articles for one day on Saturday, December 23, 2023, in protest against the ongoing attacks against the Palestinian people and the bias of many Western governments, especially the United States, towards one side of the conflict and the adoption of double standards. The step was taken to express solidarity and rejection of misinformation, according to what was published on the Arabic Wikipedia's main page, which added a logo expressing that.[20][21][22][23][24] This solidarity was widely welcomed by a large number of Arab users and supporters of the Palestinian cause, while it was criticized by some Israeli users.[25]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Israeli-Palestinian conflict rages on Wikipedia". The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com. 2010-05-16. Archived from the original on 2023-12-20. Retrieved 2023-12-20.
  2. ^ a b c d Benjakob, Omer (October 4, 2020). "The Second Intifada Still Rages on Wikipedia". Haaretz. Archived from the original on 8 January 2024. Retrieved 2024-03-06.
  3. ^ Benjakob, Omer (December 7, 2017). "After Trump Move, Jerusalem Battle Now Plays Out on Wikipedia". Haaretz. Archived from the original on 10 January 2024. Retrieved 2024-03-07.
  4. ^ Benjakob, Omer (2020-11-29). "On Wikipedia, Israel is losing the battle against the word 'apartheid'". Haaretz. Archived from the original on 15 September 2022. Retrieved 2024-03-07.
  5. ^ a b Benjakob, Omer (2021-02-16). "Israeli 'rule,' not 'occupation': In a sign of the times, Hebrew Wikipedia renames a key article". Haaretz. Archived from the original on 19 November 2023. Retrieved 2024-03-16.
  6. ^ a b c Harrison, Stephen (2023-10-26). "Wikipedia Is Covering the War in Israel and Gaza Better Than X". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Archived from the original on 2023-12-14. Retrieved 2023-12-20.
  7. ^ ""ويكيبيديا" وحرب غزة... حلبة صراع جديدة بين "كتائب" المحررين". اندبندنت عربية. November 25, 2023. Archived from the original on November 25, 2023. Retrieved December 30, 2023.
  8. ^ Benjakob, Omer (November 17, 2023). "Netanyahu vs. Israeli Security Chiefs: Wikipedia Is New Front in Gaza War Blame Game". Haaretz. Archived from the original on 17 November 2023. Retrieved 2024-02-04.
  9. ^ McElroy, Damien (2008-05-07). "Israeli battles rage on Wikipedia". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 12 February 2024. Retrieved 2024-03-07.
  10. ^ a b Shabi, Rachel; Kiss, Jemima (2010-08-18). "Wikipedia editing courses launched by Zionist groups". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on 2013-08-19. Retrieved 2024-03-07.
  11. ^ a b Somaiya, Ravi (2010-08-31). "Wikipedia: A New Battleground in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict". Newsweek. Archived from the original on 2023-05-31. Retrieved 2024-03-07.
  12. ^ Issacharoff, Avi (August 29, 2010). "Palestinians Prepare to Battle 'Zionist Editing' on Wikipedia". Haaretz. Archived from the original on 6 March 2024. Retrieved 2024-03-07.
  13. ^ "Biased Wikipedia editing in Israel raises concerns of political meddling". France 24. Archived from the original on February 3, 2017. Retrieved May 6, 2016.
  14. ^ "Aligning Text to the Right: Is a Political Organization Editing Wikipedia to Suit Its Interests?". Haaretz. Archived from the original on July 13, 2013. Retrieved May 6, 2016.
  15. ^ See also Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2013-06-19/In the media
  16. ^ a b Aharoni Lir, Shlomit (14 March 2024). "The Bias Against Israel on Wikipedia" (PDF). World Jewish Congress. Archived (PDF) from the original on 20 March 2024. Retrieved 19 March 2024.
  17. ^ "Wikipedia Founder: Israel-Palestine Is Heavily Debated, but We're Vigilant on Neutrality". Haaretz. Archived from the original on 2022-12-01. Retrieved 2023-12-20.
  18. ^ "Wikipedia founder supports Israel, but keeps site neutral". The Times of Israel. Archived from the original on 2023-12-20. Retrieved 2023-12-20.
  19. ^ "Wikimedia Foundation calls for unrestricted internet connectivity and access to knowledge in Gaza". Wikimedia Foundation. December 5, 2023. Archived from the original on December 23, 2023. Retrieved December 30, 2023.
  20. ^ "ما سبب إغلاق موسوعة ويكيبيديا مؤقتاً يوم 23 كانون الأول 2023؟" [The first 2023? Why was Wikipedia temporarily closed on December 23? [Google translate]]. تلفزيون سوريا [syria.tv]. December 23, 2023. Archived from the original on December 24, 2023. Retrieved December 30, 2023.
  21. ^ "'Arabic Wikipedia' shuts down for one day in solidarity with Gaza". en.royanews.tv. Archived from the original on 2023-12-24. Retrieved 2023-12-30.
  22. ^ "Wikipedia Arabic closes its site for 24 hours in solidarity with Gaza - Jordan News | Latest News from Jordan, MENA". Jordan News | Latest News from Jordan, MENA. December 23, 2023. Archived from the original on December 23, 2023. Retrieved December 30, 2023.
  23. ^ "كيف جاءت ردود الفعل على "الفيتو" الأمريكي ضد وقف إطلاق النار بغزة؟" [How were the reactions to the American veto against the ceasefire in Gaza? [Google translate]]. CNN Arabic. December 9, 2023. Archived from the original on December 21, 2023. Retrieved December 30, 2023.
  24. ^ Wintour, Patrick (December 26, 2023). "Why US double standards on Israel and Russia play into a dangerous game". The Guardian. Archived from the original on December 26, 2023. Retrieved December 30, 2023.
  25. ^ "إغلاق ويكيبيديا العربيَّة دعماً لغزَّة.. كيف يتشكل التضامن الرقمي من أجل فلسطين؟ | عربي بوست" [Closing the Arabic Wikipedia in support of Gaza... How is digital solidarity for Palestine formed? [Google translate]]. arabicpost.net. Archived from the original on 2023-12-25. Retrieved 2023-12-30.

Further reading