Right-wing Israel advocacy group’s secret Wikipedia campaign unveiled

Electronic Intifada (EI) has this exclusive report about CAMERA, a controversial right-wing advocacy group known for their efforts to make Israeli-Palestinian media coverage more sympathetic to Israel (see Muzzlewatch stories about CAMERA tactics here). After years of launching media boycotts and campaigns, and charging various people and outlets with anti-Semitism, CAMERA is now attempting a stealth campaign to change Wikipedia entries about the Israeli-Palestine conflict. Or, in the words of EI, they are attempting to rewrite history. The operative word here is stealth. Electronic Intifada describes the secret emails, which you can read in their entirety at EI.

Throughout the documents EI obtained, CAMERA operatives stress the need for stealth and secrecy. In his initial action alert, Ini requests that recipients “not forward it to members of the news media.” In a 17 March follow-up email sent to volunteers, Ini explains that he wants to make the orchestrated effort appear to be the work of unaffiliated individuals. Thus he advises that “There is no need to advertise the fact that we have these group discussions.”

Anticipating possible objections to CAMERA’s scheme, Ini conjectures that “Anti-Israel editors will seize on anything to try to discredit people who attempt to challenge their problematic assertions, and will be all too happy to pretend, and announce, that a ‘Zionist’ cabal (the same one that controls the banks and Hollywood?) is trying to hijack Wikipedia.”

But stealth and misrepresentation are presented as the keys to success. Ini suggests that after volunteers sign up as editors for Wikipedia they should “avoid editing Israel-related articles for a short period of time.” This strategy is intended to “avoid the appearance of being one-topic editors,” thus attracting unwanted attention.

Ini counsels that volunteers “might also want to avoid, for obvious reasons, picking a user name that marks you as pro-Israel, or that lets people know your real name.” To further conceal the identity of CAMERA-organized editors, Ini warns, “don’t forget to always log in before making [edits]. If you make changes while not logged in, Wikipedia will record your computer’s IP address” — a number that allows identification of the location of a computer connected to the Internet.

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