UPDATE: An Israeli reader notes that the Wikipedia “takedown” was preceded by an editing flame war between Rabbi Rotter and other editors. After they refused to allow him to edit the article in the manner he saw fit, he threatened legal action. They then took the article down entirely.
Hebrew Wikipedia has a peculiar habit of caving to the least bit of pressure from figures on the far-right of the Israeli political scene and banning articles they view as insufficiently flattering. For quite a long time, Wikipedia refused to create an article about Anat Kamm (there is one now). It removed an article about Im Tirzu because it referred to claims that the organization was politically far to the right (after long debate, they did allow an article to be published). Now Hebrew Wikipedia has removed its article about Rotter.net and its founder, “Rabbi” Yeshayahu Rotter under legal threat. This, after Wikipedia had removed/censored links in its article to my own reporting on Rabbi Rotter. You can read the letter threatening legal action here.
I’m not aware of how each Wikipedia language edition relates to the larger body. But the timidity of Hebrew Wikipedia seems in direct contradiction to the overall philosophy of Wikipedia. I can’t believe that Jimmy Wales would agree to such cowardice in the face of intimidation. The Hebrew edition makes a mockery of the real spirit of Wikipedia.
Rotter threatened me with legal action. My legal representative responded firmly and Rotter did not proceed. So I know how bad he can be. But the problem is that if everyone caves, it gives bullies like him license and they start to think they are bullet-proof (legally, not physically).
In the interest of resisting censorious, litgious individuals like Rotter, I bring you the censored Wikipedia article in full. I hope that other Israelis will publish it on their websites, blogs, etc. If enough of you have the balls to do it Rotter can’t sue you all. But I fully concede that you face more liability and vulnerability than I do. So I will not sit in judgment of someone who feels they cannot take the chance. This is unfortunately the bind that authoritarianism like Rotter’s puts us in. Backed by an Israeli legal system that bends to the wealthy, powerful and downright noxious, everyone who has an independent nature is in danger:
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.