Wikipedia has become the new battleground for Israel's PR image.
The Yisrael Sheli (My Israel) movement and the Yesha Council, which represents Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, have joined together for a new public relations initiative. Together they will soon offer a special course for volunteers who wish to write and edit English entries on Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia.
Ayelet Shaked, who is heading the project, was interviewed on Monday on Arutz 7 Radio, and said that she was surprised at the large number of individuals who have gotten in touch with her so far and are interested in joining the course.
“To our surprise, many applied to attend,” said Shaked. “At first we thought to offer it to only thirty candidates, but now we are considering opening it to more.”
Shaked pointed out that despite the large number of candidates, the door is still open for other candidates who wish to attend the course. Explaining the course’s goals and methods of operation, she said: “The goal is to take part in public relations [for Israel] in English. Wikipedia has rules that one must learn in order to be able to edit entries. Not anyone can be an editor on Wikipedia. The information has to be reliable and meet certain rules. Our intention is to teach these rules as well as show how to deal with different terminology when writing these entries.”
She cited some examples of the Zionist struggle in the use of terms such as “occupation” in Wikipedia entries, as well as in the editing of entries that will link between the land of Israel, and specifically Judea and Samaria, and Jewish history.
Shaked clarified that she does not fear that wealthy leftist organizations will also take advantage of this opportunity to rise to the occasion and edit Wikipedia entries based on their own world views. She noted that such organizations are already operating in this arena, and added that as far as she is concerned the struggle should involve more action and less talk. As such she emphasized that she is not discouraged by any of the concerns described above. She concluded by once again calling on applicants who wish to participate in the course to visit the My Israel website and apply to take part in the first such Wikipedia course which is scheduled to be held in a few weeks.
According to statistics published on Wikipedia’s site, there are currently 3,367,866 content pages on the site and 12,807,029 registered users, 132,885 of which are active users who are involved in creating and editing entries.
My Israel is a network of online pro-Israel activists committed to spreading Zionism online and to counter the spread of lies and misinformation against Israel which frequently appears on the Internet. Visit www.myisrael.org.il for more information on the organization as well as to register for the Wikipedia course.