There is real political bias on Wikipedia, but much of the erroneous information on the site is the result of the ignorance of editors.
How would you describe the night of November 9, 1938 in Germany?
Kristallnacht was a nationwide, government-sponsored, pogrom or series of deadly attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions across the Third Reich (Germany and Austria) on November 9–10, 1938.
That sentence hits the highlights. That the attacks were 1) sponsored by the government, 2) carefully coordinated and controlled, and 3) deadly.
None of these three key facts appears in the first sentence of the actual Wikipedia article, which reads “Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, also known as Reichskristallnacht, Pogromnacht, and Novemberpogrome, was a pogrom or series of attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria on November 9–10, 1938.”
If you read the entire four paragraph lede, you will discover that the attacks were horrific and deadly, but you will not find an explicit statement that they were carefully planned, controlled and sponsored by the government. Although that information does appear later in the article, it belongs in the first sentence of the lede.
Moreover, the first sentence reads “parts of Austira.” While it is true that the pogrom was uneven in its brutality, the unevenness applies to Germany and Austria (then unified as a single nation under a single government) as a whole, i.e., the events in some towns were less violent than in others. But Austrians equalled or exceeded Germans in their enthusiasm for Hitler and the Reich and Kristallnacht was no less violent in Austrian than it was in German cities. Far from making this clear, the article repeatedly refers to “Germany” subtly implying by omission that these vents took place in the lands that form modern Germany when, in fact, they took place in the Reich as a whole at a time when Austrians and Germans were united.
The article is seriously biased in its verbal concealment of Austrian Nazism.
There is also an article on November 9, and it is problematic in its own way. (Wikipedia has an article on every date, with a string of events each described in a single sentence, arranged in chronological order.)
November 9, 1938 ought to read more or less the way the first sentence of the article on Kristallnacht ought to read:
Kristallnacht was a nationwide, government-sponsored pogrom or series of deadly attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions across the Third Reich (Germany and Austria) on November 9–10, 1938.
Instead, the Wikipedia page November 9 reads as though the most significant event that occurred on November 9, 1938 was the death of Ernst vom Rath:
Nazi German diplomat Ernst vom Rath dies from the fatal gunshot wounds of Jewish resistance fighter Herschel Grynszpan, an act which the Nazis used as an excuse to instigate the 1938 national pogrom, also known as Kristallnacht.
Bias on Wikipedia is often a matter of emphasis and omission. And it is very troubling.
Biased editors work tirelessly to make sure that anything Israel appears in the worst possible light, while crimes committed by Palestinians are minimized and at times even censored.
Take White phosphorous for example. A substance used by Western militaries, including Israel, as a smokescreen, a tracer, or to illuminate a battlefield, or target, and as an incindiary weapon. It is a complex topic and I will not attempt to unpack it in a thorough way.
By contrast, a very small section of the article is entitled Israeli-Palestinian conflict (2010). It covers the use of white phosphorous in an unambigous manner by Palestinian terrorists in rocket attacks on civilian targets in Israel.
The pretended neutrality of the section titles conceals the deliberate obfuscation of terrorism by editors.
photo © 2009 Gideon Burton | more info (via: Wylio)Bias on Wikipedia is often a simple reflection of who is willing to put the hours into editing Wikipedia. The willingness of anti-Israel editors to put endless amounts of time into editing shows up on Wikipedia’s anti-Israel pages. To put in the kind of hours that some editors spend putting material that makes Israel and Jews look bad on Wikipedia takes a special intensity of hatred.
For an example, take a look at the Wikipedia page on the Israel Lobby in the United States. About 150 people read this biased, misleading, and inaccurate page every day. Most of the information on the page is drawn from “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” the notorious anti-Israel creed by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, even though a lot of footnotes to other sources have been added.
The article on the Israel Lobby is a piece of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish writing that begins with the inaccurate lead paragraph:
“The Israel lobby (at times called the Zionist lobby or sometimes the Jewish lobby) is a term used to describe the diverse coalition of groups and individuals who seek and have sought to influence the foreign policy of the United States in support of Zionism, Israel, or the specific policies of its government. The lobby consists primarily of Jewish-American [sic] secular and religious groups as well as some evangelical Christian organizations.”
In fact, there are non-Evangelical Christian organizations that lobby on behalf of Israel. And, contrary to the lead’s assertion that this is a largely Jewish lobby, Christians United for Israel is bigger tha AIPAC and JStreet put together.
While the article contains many similar misstatements of fact, caused principally by over-reliance on the Walt/Mearsheimer book, the more serious problem is the tone, which, even if we overlook the assertion that “A number of commentators have asserted that the Israel lobby has undue or pervasive influence over U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, ” gives the impression that the lobby has great power and undue influence, while ignoring the larger truth that U.S. foreign policy on Israel to the extent that it has supported Israel has reflected the overwhelming support for Israel by the American electorate.
The article, moreover, fails to reflect the fact that American policy has not been consistently pro-Israel. The United States was in fact notoriously unsupportive of Israel between 1948 and 1967, and has blown hot and cold in the decades since. This is because career politicians in the United States Department of State have been notoriously anti-Israel or ambivalent about Israel since the 1940’s and continue to be so today, and because of the tremendous power and influence of the Arab Oil Lobby.
What Oil Lobby, you ask?
Wikipedia has no article on the Oil Lobby.
As I said, bias on Wikipedia is often a simple reflection of who is willing to put the hours into editing Wikipedia.
(to be continued)
We recently asked Who Edits Wikipedia, and introduced our readers to a fascist who, along with fellow Hitler-admirers defends old Adolf from “anti-Nazi propaganda.” But it is Administrators who wield the rel power at Wikipedia. And some of them have highly questionable political commitments. Among them, an editor who boasts that he “chose my Username after El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, better known as Malcolm X, whose life and words inspire me.”
You remember Malcolm X? A man who argued for redress of legitimate black American grievances by “any means necessary”, by which he meant violence. “I am for violence if non-violence means we continue postponing a solution to the American black man’s problem just to avoid violence.”
Personally, I am an admirer of Martin Luther King, who dedicated his life to achieving civil rights by non-violent means, and made America a better place. I shudder to think what this country might be like today if impatient Americans had followed Malcolm X and launched the kind of violent revolution that Malcolm X advocated in this 1964 interview.
Monthly Review: You often use the word revolution, is there a revolution underway in America now?
MALCOLM X: There hasn’t been. Revolution is like a forest fire. It burns everything in its path. The people who are involved in a revolution don’t become a part of the system—they destroy the system, they change the system. The genuine word for a revolution is Umwälzung which means a complete overturning and a complete change and the Negro Revolution is no revolution because it condemns the system and then asks the system that it has condemned to accept them into their system. That’s not a revolution—a revolution changes the system, it destroys the system and replaces it with a better one.
“I don’t go for anything that’s non-violent and turn-the-other-cheekish. I don’t see how any revolution—I’ve never heard of a non-violent revolution or a revolution that was brought about by turning the other cheek, and so I believe that it is a crime for anyone to teach a person who is being brutalized to continue to accept that brutality without doing something to defend himself.”
In addition to admiring Malcolm X, this editor is an avowed anarchist who admires Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman. Berkman was very like Malcolm X, both wanted to lead violent revolutions. Malcolm X against white folk and Berkman against capitalists. While Berkman was on probation for attempting to assassinate Henry Clay Frick he helped with a plan to kill John D. Rockefeller by planting a bomb at this home. The explosives were stored in a Lexington Avenue apartment when they accidentally blew up.
Wikipedia: where admirers of anarchism, violent revolution, assassination, and murder by bombing rule.
Let’s rephrase that opening sentence of a Wikipedia article: Wikipedia when associated with anti-Israel and anti-Semitic editing has been used to motivate, glorify, endorse, or justify hatred of Jews.
Reading the Jew-hatred on Wikipedia is always depressing. This article was created on April 1, 2010. Unfortunately, it is still with us. The problem with this article is that it is not a topic, it is a jumble of topics and citations thrown together to make the Jews look bad.
Good articles can only be written on topics that are clearly defined. Warfare in Jewish law, Warfare in the Bible, and the Pacifist tradition in Judaism are examples of the kind of topics that could produce coherent articles. This article, however, is an example of the abuse of Wikipedia by ignorant editors for anti-Semitic ends.
The first section, for example, is about Types of war. A vast literature exists in Jewish and Western sources about just and unjust wars. None of it is referenced in this propaganda section.
The second section is about Wars of extermination in the Tanakh. Not about Warfare in the Bible. No, this article makes its anti-Semitic motivations clear by heading the section Wars of extermination in the Tanakh. Worse, the section discusses these wars as though they were historical events. Wikipedia pages rarely mention the Biblical kingdom without a thorough discrediting of the Bible as an historical source. Here, however, the article begins with a discussion of Biblical wars as though they all actually happened, “The targets of the extermination commandments were the seven Canaanite nations explicitly identified by God as targets…”
You have to read down the page to find mention of the fact that it ain’t necessarily so.
We are also given a litany of genocide:
Scholar Hans Van Wees characterizes the wars of extermination as genocide.
Scholar Philip Jenkins characterizes the warfare of the Bible as genocidal, and considers the laws of warfare in the Qu’ran to be more humane than the Biblical rules.
Scholar Leonard Kravitz describes the commandment to exterminate the Midianites (in the Book of Numbers) as genocide.
Scholar Shaul Magid characterizes the commandment to exterminate the Midianites as a “genocidal edict”, and asserts that rabbinical tradition continues to defend the edict into the twentieth century.
Scholar Robert L. Cohn characterizes the extermination of the Canaanite tribes as genocide.
Scholar Ra’anan S. Boustan asserts that – in the modern era – the violence directed towards the Canaanites would be characterized as genocide.
Scholar Carl Ehrlich characterizes the Battle of Jericho and the conquest of the Canaanite nations as genocide.
Scholar Zev Garber characterizes the commandment to wage war on the Amalekites as genocide.
Scholar Wiki02138 characterizes this sort of laundry list as anti-Semitism.
Some editors are biased. How else to describe an editor who voted to delete the article on Racism in the Palestinian territories, arguing that “One would think that this topic could and should be handled under the general aegis of “Antisemitism,” allowing, of course, for the fact that Palestinian Arabs are themselves Semitic.”
The article is about the bigoted attitudes and actions of Palestinian Muslim Arabs towards Christian Arabs, Kurds, Jews and black Arabs. It’s real, it’s documented: The attacks on Christians, the race-hatred towards Jews, and the discrimination against the descendents of black African slaves.
The same editor voted to keep the article on Racism in Israel. So, his argument either has to be that Israelis are racist while Palestinians are not, or that when it comes to the racism of Palestinian Arabs WE JUST DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT on Wikipedia.
More troubling is the low value that this editor appears to have for human life and his inclination to defend Islamic terrorism.
Take, for example the 2010 European terror plot, which this editor dismisses as an “a POV push… quite possibly no more than self-serving propaganda of the multi-billion dollar international ‘security’ industry.” In other words, he does not believe that there is an Islamist terror campaign, and he wants evidence of it off Wikipedia.
In the deletion discussion of the 2010 Hamas terror campaign he wrote, “POV essay which attempts to link a number of likely unrelated events as part of a “terror campaign.” is “tendentious. ‘original Research’ at its worst.” Original research is a Wikipedia phrase that refers to the illegitimate practice of making up a concept and writing a Wikipedia article to introduce it to the world. Obviously, a campaign of terrorism that Hamas was bragging about and that left innocent people dead was not made up by the Wikipedians. But this user’s sympathies are not with the innocent dead.
Here is his comment in a deletion discussion about the August 2010 West Bank shooting, in which 4 Israelis were shot dead at point blank by Palestinian terrorists who had driven their car off the road. After describing the article as “anti-Palestinian,” this editor argues that the article should be deleted since it is part of an “anti-Palestinian” campaign. He is artuing that it is anti-Palestinian and he can prove it since “If it looks ie a duck, and it walks like a duck…. ” This is the content of the creator’s first edit: The 31 August 2010 West Bank shooting was a Palestinian terror attack near Kiryat Arba, in which four Israelis, one of the them a pregnant women, were shot multiple times until they died. Quack quack.” (Bold added for emphasis)
I like ducks. I really like ducks. But the shooting of four complete strangers, one of them great with child, at point-blank range to make a political point sounds like terrorism to me.
Here is the same editor on an incident in which an Arab Christian was kidnapped, tortured, stabbed multiple times, and beaten to death by Islamists because he ran a shop that sold Bibles. (They also destroyed the shop and the Bibles) Sources in the article call the murderers Islamists, and an editor commenting on the talk page refers to them as “Islamist thugs.” Our editor is outraged, shouting “Islamist thugs”?!? POV, anyone???”
Why it is not productive to call anyone a thug, this editor is skating awfully close to defending the Islamist tactic of stabbing Christian booksellers to death.
In yet another attempt to delete an article about Palestinian Arab terrorism, the Killing of Rabbi Meir Hai, this editor dismisses an article about a terrorist murder as, one of several “articles of this ilk.” We will return to the definition of the “ilk” of article this editor wants to delete.
These votes and comments might lead you to believe that this editor simply thinks violence is not Wikipedia notable. Not so! Even a relatively minor shooting by a lone-wolf gunman wounding two police officers is “a historical event worthy of Wikipedia coverage” because the culprit was a right wing American. The “ilk” of articles this editor wants to delete are articles about Islamist attacks by organized geoups like Hamas and Al Qaeda on targets in Europe and Israel.
This editor does not announce his politics, only his interests. His home page shows that he is passionatley devoted to editing pages about Marxism, Socialism and Communism, is “a volunteer with Marxists Internet Archive.”
There is an effort to expunge articles on Islamist terrorism from Wikipedia. Sometimes this can be so petty it can only be described as hateful. Take the deletion debate about Nava Appelbaum. Nava was a 20-year-old girl murdered along with her father by a Hamas suicide bomber on the eve of her wedding day.
Articles like this belong on Wikipedia because they document the tragic consequences of Islamist terrorism. Tarc wants to delete the article. He has offers no valid reason. Nava Appelbaum is WP:Notable because of the response her tragic death has evoked from writers and in the many memorials dedicated to her memory.
Carrite wants to delete the article because he dislikes the POV (Point of view). The point of view taken by the article is that murder is immoral and that the death of an innocent girl is a tragedy.
The point of view taken by this blog is that the moral judgment of Wikipedia editors is irrelevant. If one terrorist attack is notable, they are all notable.
Avaz Shoyusupov is a suicide bomber who walked into the Prosecutor’s Office in Tashkent, Uzbekistan and blew himself up. Such events are notable. Why is it being deleted? The deleting editor does not even offer a reason.
But a second editor appears and argues that it should be merged into History of Uzbekistan (1991–present). This is a method of making terrorism invisible on Wikipedia. Deleting the articles, or removing the details that independent articles can bring by merging them into large articles, lets people pretend that terrorism does not exist.