Changing Wikipedia entries-nice work if you can get it
Organized efforts to edit and monitor Wikipedia entries on Israel and Palestine are nothing new. There’s WikiProject Palestine, WikiProject Israel and even WikiProject Arab-Israeli conflict, which all must abide by Wikipedia’s Neutral Point of View guidelines. According to a Wikipedia spokesperson, corporate publicists also get into the game of changing entries. But the Hasbara Fellowships program seems to be breaking new ground with the confluence of paid fellowships, government involvement, and an active campaign to change Wikipedia entries.
Hasbara Fellowships, a program started in “conjunction with Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs” to help students become “effective pro-Israel activists” is actively recruiting paid fellows and supporters to join in the effort. From the May Hasbara Fellowship newsletter:
Everyone knows about Wikipedia, a place to go to get the ‘real’ scoop. How often do you use Wikipedia to look up subjects you know little about? Now imagine how often other people use Wikipedia to look up subjects related to Israel.Wikipedia is not an objective resource but rather an online encyclopedia that any one can edit. The result is a website that is in large part is controlled by ‘intellectuals’ who seek re-write the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. These authors have systematically yet subtly rewritten key passages of thousands of Wikipedia entries to portray Israel in a negative light.You have the opportunity to stop this dangerous trend! If you are interested in joining a team of Wikipedians to make sure Israel is presented fairly and accurately, please contact email@example.com for details!
Mishegas at the United Nations: Israel the world’s only human rights violator?
On Monday, Canada was the sole country on the United Nations Human Rights Council who voted against making Israel’s actions a permanent item on the council’s agenda. Forty-six member countries, including those with poor human rights records, voted for the decision.
In response, Reuters reports
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon joined Western nations on Wednesday in criticizing the world body’s own Human Rights Council for “picking on Israel” as part of an agreement on its working rules.
The European Union, Canada and the United States have already attacked the deal reached in Geneva on Monday under which Israel’s actions would become a permanent item on the Human Rights Council’s agenda.
A UN statement said: “The Secretary-General is disappointed at the council’s decision to single out only one specific regional item given the range and scope of allegations of human rights violations throughout the world.”
The fun of being a DC Palestinian lobbyist
Edward Abington, a former United States consul general in Jerusalem who was for years the official lobbyist for the Palestinian Authority and later, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, reports:
“Trying to lobby for the Palestinians in Washington is fundamentally a lost cause,” he said. “Congress doesn’t care, and the administration is just fueling the conflict.”
Abington said that when he was on the job, he faced not only American reluctance but also personal harassment, including bomb threats, endless lawsuits and continuous criticism. In one case, he found posters bearing his photograph, reading “Ed Abington — Wanted for Murder,” at his downtown Washington office.
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