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WJC publishes research revealing the roots of Wikipedia’s anti-Israel bias

Types of bias include delegitimizing terminology, lack of context, omission of significant details, one-sided sources, emphasizing negative examples and linking to pages like “genocide.”

An incomplete sphere made of large, white jigsaw puzzle pieces, each one containing a glyph from a different writing system, with each glyph written in black. Credit: Wikipedia.
An incomplete sphere made of large, white jigsaw puzzle pieces, each one containing a glyph from a different writing system, with each glyph written in black. Credit: Wikipedia.

The World Jewish Congress has published a 19-page report summarizing two months of research into the issue of skewed coverage regarding Israel found on Wikipedia.

Released on Tuesday on the sidelines of the ongoing session of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, “The Bias Against Israel on Wikipedia” was written by Shlomit Aharoni Lir, senior fellow researcher at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan and the University of Haifa. 

“The report is also based on the experience of hundreds of editors who have been working since Oct. 7 on adding articles related to the terrorist attacks and on combating the bias,” Yfat Barak-Cheney, WJC’s director of international affairs and human rights, told JNS.

WJC’s research points to four problems that undermine Wikipedia’s utopian founding principles of democratic discourse.

First, the report notes that according to surveys, only 13% of the site’s editors are women, which “has great significance with respect to the reliability of the data and issues related to who is worthy of value.”

Second, Lir identifies the bullying and “edit war” culture that has developed around Wikipedia, which she characterizes as “an unpleasant general atmosphere in Wikipedia, which makes cooperation difficult and even discourages users, especially new ones.” Next, the report points to how higher-level administrators can abuse their powers with seeming impunity and that the culture of anonymity fuels incivility.

As examples of anti-Israel bias, the report names such pages as “Palestinian Genocide Accusation,” “Palestinian Enclaves,” “Nakba Denial,” “Zionism as Settler Colonialism” and Comparisons Between Israel and Nazi Germany.”

Types of bias the report identifies include delegitimizing terminology, lack of context, omission of significant details, one-sided sources, emphasizing negative examples and linking to pages like “genocide.”

JNS contacted Wikipedia about these issues but received no response.

The report concludes with a number of recommendations to increase neutrality on the site

“To date, Wikipedia has not shown any motivation to change,” Barak-Cheney told JNS. “However, it strongly supports the value of neutrality, and its goal should be to examine these claims and make changes as needed. This is the beginning of a broader call to action.”

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