More on CAMERA and Wikipedia

Journalistic colleagues – in the Jewish and general American media – have emailed me to thank me for my recent column on CAMERA’s apparent efforts to slant Wikipedia articles. The notes came with comments like “batten down the hatches” or “hope they don’t throw eggs at your house.” I felt like the kid who took the dare to walk across the yard of the neighbor who keeps rottweilers, or who talked back to the teacher who still uses a paddle.

Knowing those colleagues, I don’t think any of them would pass up a story or a sentence just because CAMERA will attack them afterward. They are folks who have shown themselves to blessedly, professionally foolhardy. I can’t say I’m sure this is true of everyone in the business. This may please some donors to CAMERA, the attack-dog organization that claims to monitor the media for anti-Israel bias and that barks at any report it perceives as negative: See, those nasty media people have had the fear of God put in them.

Me, I’d think that if you cared about Israel, you really would want accurate info about what’s happening here, which means reports on what’s wrong as well as what’s right – as I’d think you’d prefer the doctors treating family members to be honest. You wouldn’t want the pediatrician to be afraid you’d start roaring at her if she said your kid showed definite signs of junk-food addiction and obesity.

Meanwhile, “dajudem,” a member of the CAMERA-organized group of stealth editors of Wikipedia has posted a fascinating comment on my Prospect column :

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CAMERA: Committee for Agitprop in Middle Eastern Reporting

CAMERA, which claims to monitor the accuracy of reporting on Israel in the American media, doesn’t feel obligated to be all that truthful itself, as I explain in my new column at the American Prospect. A CAMERA staffer organized activists to work as a group to edit Wikipedia articles on Israel – while hiding their intent and their connection to each other. Some would conceal their interest in Israel, get elected as impartial administrators, and then be able to decide disagreements between other volunteer editors.

Ineffectual as the CAMERA effort apparently was, there are several morals to the story. One is that despite the techno-idealism that Wikipedia can inspire, it’s best to approach the encyclopedia with an attitude of caveat lector, let the reader beware. The affair is also a reminder — not the first — that CAMERA is ready to exempt itself from the demands for accuracy that it aims at the media.

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Telling the Story and Doubting It, Too

On Shabbat afternoon I walked over to the Ramban synagogue in the Greek Colony to attend the popular weekly talk by Rabbi Binyamin Lau. This week’s topic was Daniel.

Daniel, as related in his eponymous biblical book, was a boy from a family exiled by Nebuchadnezzar from Judea to Babylonia. He is educated in the school at the royal court and achieves fame—and avoids execution—when he succeeds in solving a problem even tougher than the one Joseph faced in Egypt. Pharaoh had a dream and needed to know what it meant; Joseph interpreted it for him. Nebuchadnezzar had a dream but didn’t remember what it was; he needed someone who could both tell him what he’d dreamed and what actual events it portended.

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