I don’t believe in conspiracy theories. I believe it is the actions of everyday people that shapes our lives. That is why i am usually especially cautious when presented with such material.
However, as a Palestinian who spent some time in the United States, i have definitely felt the media bias in support of Israel in our conflict. This bias forms a public knowledge that is erroneous, yet unfortunately people often translate it into “facts” on Wikipedia and other sites. While you should never trust Wikipedia blind-heartedly (specially on non-scientific topics), many people do in fact get introduced to subjects and form their opinions about things solely based on Wikipedia. This is specially true among school students.
A recent article on Desert Peace blog uncovered a series of secret email exchanges among members of a pro-Israel group called CAMERA (“Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America”). These emails reveal a plot to form a group of Wikipedia editors who would work slowly and individually to gain the trust of the Wikipedia community editors and administrators, at which point they would start modifying Israel and Palestine related articles to better suite their interests.
Again, please remember that i do not promote conspiracy theories. What i am talking about is very well documented in the email evidence.
The emails go on to mention how team members should pick usernames that would not show a pro-Israel personal opinion [page 4], and how that these members should start out by editing random, non-Israel-related, articles all over Wikipedia and then work their way to Israel related articles [page 5]. They talked about how they can collaborate together to turn votes on controversial issues to what they deem preferable (regardless of the truth) [page 12]. They even went into the level of details as to how to lure-in potential Palestinian editors in a way as to set them up to discredit them [page 7]. You can find out many more horrible schemes inside these exchanges.
In short, this series of email exchanges show hard evidence of a group of seemingly dedicated individuals who are plotting together to distort Wikipedia articles to the advantage of the Israeli point of view; disregarding factual historical facts, and predictably down playing the Palestinian and Arab suffering. One of the email writers describes this campaign as a “war” that they have to “build an army for, equip it, and train it” [page 11].
I am sure that many of you would shrug and say: “What’s new ? this has been happening all along, and for far more credible sites than Wikipedia”. While this might be true, in this case we do have hard evidence to document this. So this is something that we can, and should, bring to public awareness to highlight this understated aspect of the plight of the Palestinians and Arabs.
My fellow bloggers and readers, i ask you if you can please raise some awareness about this issue. If you have a blog, blog about this. Upload the emails to your blog (so that there would be many copies of that document online). If you are attending a University in the USA, Canada, or Europe, please try to write an article about this in your school’s newspaper (or at least print the emails pdf and send it to your University’s paper editors). Even more preferably, just mail a copy of these emails to your regional newspaper. Be it, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Chicago Post, or whatever big newspaper is big in your area, we have to get the point across. You don’t even have to put your name on the envelope if you want.
I also turn to big bloggers with big readership and fellowship, such as Qwaider, and many of those featured on Qwaider Planet. This is a perfect moment for citizen journalism. This is not just an issue local to Palestinians. Indeed the situation is similar for Islam related articles, as [page 7] also lists the article on “Dhimi” as “highly important”.
Here is the link to the email exchanges again:
Thank you for your help, and i hope together we can raise awareness of this dangerous issue.