The Poison Pill of Israeli, and Wikipedia Censorship
One of the most interesting aspects of the Israeli national security state is the IDF military censor and the ways in which it stymies the free flow of ideas and information within Israeli society. Unlike in the U.S., where the NSA and the covert side of the CIA operate in almost total secrecy (except when someone like Edward Snowden comes along), Israel is a place more uncertain and anxious about such things. There the military censor even publicly addresses criticism of her role. Not because she wants to (I would argue), but because the military constantly feels the need to justify the restrictions it places on Israelis and the sacrifices it forces them to accept. One of the ten most powerful armies in the world has an inferiority complex that compels it to self-justify.
That explains a speech delivered by Brig. Gen. Sima Vaknin-Gil at a conference on intelligence and special operations sponsored by the magazine, Israel Defense. Her remarks were, as you might expect, self-serving, solipsistic and even racist. She claims that she has developed an “innovative” set of censorship guidelines that are “responsive” to modern times. I’ll let you be the judge after you finish reading her wit and wisdom here:
“Israel is a democratic, liberal, western society which protects its secrets through means which are draconian and at times even self-contradictory.
We are a civilian society in which there is a critical public debate [about intelligence matters] and it’s difficult to maintain censorship and prevent the publication of secret material. Today, a guy sees a terror attack from his balcony and sends a photo to the newspaper–how can we control that?
…We in the military censor’s unit don’t hide information. We protect information which is critical [to our defense] in terms of our enemies. They don’t have the same abilities we do. They don’t have Unit 8200 [Israel’s NSA]. They don’t have a Jewish brain. Therefore the enemy relies to a great extent on publicly accessible information. We, in the context of our democratic debate, offer a great deal of basic accessible information: the test succeeded or failed, budgets, order of battle, weapons, who guards what, technological developments. We in the censor unit aren’t suited to stop it all. We can only prevent [publication of] that which poses certain danger to national security…
When I retire I won’t write a book because it can’t possibly pass military censorship.”
Of course the censor “hides” information. Nor does it only hide information which might damage national security. It censors information that might damage the reputation of the IDF or its senior officers. Such behavior equates the army with the state (“l’etat, c’est moi“).
As an aside, I’m pleased to say that Vaknin-Gil views me as a thorn in her side and publicly made light of my work and the role I play in combatting Israeli censorship.
The real shocker in the above passage is Vaknin-Gil’s portrayal of Unit 8200 as a product of the Jewish mind. It’s like saying the NSA is a product of the American mind. I suppose in some ghoulish way you could argue that America’s technological sophistication enabled the creation of the frightening tools the NSA devised to spy on all of us. But even if that’s the case, is this cause for celebration?
Only an army officer living in a non-democratic state could celebrate the army’s ability to spy on both its enemies and its own citizens as an extraordinary national achievement. I should correct myself here since she doesn’t portray Unit 8200 as a product of Israel, but of Jewishness. The term I translated as “Jewish brain” derives from the Yiddish, Yiddishe kop. The term has a distinctly proud ring to it, and boasts of “Jewish genius” with an air of superiority. What’s ironic about her choice of term is that she doesn’t celebrate the “Israeli brain,” because there is no Israeli or Hebrew equivalent for yiddishe kop. That means Israel’s lethal espionage capabilities as represented by Unit 8200 become a proud Jewish achievement.
I for one want nothing to do with Unit 8200 as product of Judaism or Jewish identity. This is once again a distortion introduced by Zionist ideology which deliberately conflates Israel with Jewishness. There is nothing Jewish about signals intelligence.
Speaking of Unit 8200 as a product of Jewish genius, I note that I published a scoop in 2014 identifying the commander of Unit 8200, Brig. Gen. Ehud Schneerson, as a distant relative of the Lubavitcher rebbe. No doubt he earned his position due to his distinguished yichus and yiddishe kop!
Further, the idea that IDF intelligence capabilities somehow derive from Israel’s national genius is also troubling and racist. The only reason Israel has such advanced capabilities is that it has made this a national priority since it’s founding. Any Arab state which had done the same would have made the same achievements Israel did. In fact, Iran is late to this game but shows every sign of being able, within a reasonably short period of time, to compete credibly with Israel in this field. When it reaches this level there will be some Iranian censor boasting that the IRG’s intelligence units are a product of “Iranian genius.”
It’s all a bunch of malarkey foisted on nations by insecure generals who need to justify their own positions, influence and power.
Vaknin-Gil conveniently omitted another important element of Israeli opacity when it comes to national security. If the censor doesn’t prohibit publication of sensitive material or information, the security services have another powerful tool: the gag order. They go to a cooperative judge (usually judges who were IDF lawyers or worked for the security apparatus) and get a gag order which determines that publication of facts or information would either damage an investigation or the national security.
A perfect example of this is the case of Avera Mengistu, the Israeli-Ethiopian citizen who entered Gaza just after last summer’s war and has been detained there since then. I was the first journalist to publish this story and did so in Mint Press News. No Israeli publication may do so. There is not just a gag order on this story. There is a comprehensive gag order meaning that the media not only may not refer to Mengistu, but they may not even say there is a gag order in place preventing them from reporting the story. It’s the most draconian form of judicial censorship of the media.
I’ve speculated in Mint Press about why Israel is so skittish about Mengistu’s story. First, there is an element of racism involved. Gilad Shalit was Ashkenazi and white. Mengistu is Ethiopian and black. Ethiopian-Israelis have little power in society. They are second or third-class citizens akin to Israeli Palestinian citizens. If Israel doesn’t have to acknowledge Mengistu it won’t; because doing so empowers Hamas to demand a high price for his return. The truth is that Mengistu isn’t worth anything to the Israeli government, so it gags any reference to him. Speaking his name will force its hand.
In a related matter, an Israeli Wikipedia editor read my Mint Press story and created an article about Mengistu. The censored article is displayed here (and as a Word doc here), the Talk page for the article, which was also deleted, is archived here. Within a short time, an Israeli former reader and commenter at this blog who was banned (while here he used various nicknames, itself a comment rule violation, ‘dude,’ ‘journalist,’ and ‘tankist’) began a campaign to eliminate the Wikipedia entry. At first he did this anonymously. When I called him on this he began using the Wikipedia identity, kigelim. I also noted he had a self-interest in censoring the article because he’d been banned from this blog. Those participating in the Talk page for the article refused to acknowledge this fact as legitimate.
His first argument was that the article violated Wikipedia standards for journalistic credibility. However, Mint Press is a respected online publication with high journalistic standards. He never gave up on this argument. But other ones were developed as well. Another group of editors claimed falsely that I’d authored the article using a different Wikipedia identity (sockpuppetry). When I disproved this claim, they regrouped, beginning a campaign among fellow pro-Israel Wikipedia editors to delete the article. There are internal pro-Israel Wikipedia discussion groups and kigelim alerted them to the article and they pounced on it. Interestingly, an editor is not permitted to mount a public (i.e. outside of Wikipedia) campaign on behalf of editorial decisions. But internal lobbying among Wikipedia groups and editors is perfectly acceptable. A vote was held and those seeking deletion won.
In this way, pro-Israel elements working within Wikipedia achieved precisely the same outcome that Israeli censorship does inside that country. They silenced a key world information source which is supposed to be open and accessible to all regardless of political or ideological belief. They turned Wikipedia into a playground in which all the worst excesses of Israeli paranoia and anti-democratic tendencies are found. They perverted this fabulous resource and imposed the worst excesses of Israel-style censorship. Fools like these cheapen Wikipedia and betray its mission.
UPDATE: Kigelim has now threatened to report me to a “Wikipedia committee” and get me blocked from participating in Wikipedia unless I “apologize” to the “community” for my “baseless allegations.” Actually, if he has the power to initiate such a proceeding I’d welcome it. So bring it on.
UPDATE I: Poor Kugelmass (aka kigelim), tried to harrass me on Wikipedia and got shut down so quick his head spun. And further, he was accused of being a “single-purpose account” created to stalk me. Try again, buddy. Oh, and I’m sorry your “butt hurts” (in joke, you have to read the link).
When Mengistu is finally released (this will take much longer thanks to the draconian impact of Israeli censorship and pro-Israel editors in Wikipedia), then the article will be restored and the naysayers will be exposed for the prejudiced pro-Israelists they are.
Last week, Israeli-Ethiopians protested against Israeli racism. One of the chants heard in the crowd was the name of Avera Mengistu and another Ethiopian who was killed in a police beating. Israeli and Wikipedia may silence the truth. But you can’t silence an entire ethnic group when it knows it’s getting the shaft.
33 thoughts on “The Poison Pill of Israeli, and Wikipedia Censorship – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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The case of wikipedia, especially in Hebrew, is highly problematic with editing wars that are guided by politics. Senior editors have the ability and make use of it to slant entries away from critical approaches and serve as an informal censorship board. This is rife in Israeli Wikipedia spaces. And of course intelligence units spend alot of time editing wikipedia entries in Hebrew, Arabic, English as well as other languages.
@Michael: It is even worse in Israeli Wikipedia because the editors always respect censorship & gag ordets. They will remove articles simply because there is a gag order in place. It is Wikipedia in service to the State.
thanks for the report richard.
” First, there is an element of racism involved. Gilad Shalit was Ashkenazi and white. ”
Shalit was a soldier, doing his duty. Mengistu, if he’s alive, is a civilian who entered Gaza voluntarily. That’s the main difference.
BTW, as white as Shalit may be, plenty of Israelis opposed exchanging him for hundreds of jailed terrorists.
Not to mention, Shalit stayed in captivity for over 5 years.
Elhanan Tannenbaum stay for over 3 years and once again, it wasn’t Israel who announced his captivity.
This is a weird tactic on Hamas side of not even announcing they got a prisoner.
@Mitchell Blood: Thanks to the gag we don’t how or why he entered Gaza. We don’t know if he was swept by the tide while swimming or walked there. Israel owes the same duty to free it’s citizens whether they’re soldiers or civilians. Or are you saying an Israeli civilian captured by Hezbollah or ISIS in Europe or the ME can expect no help from Israel?
The local ocean currents run north to south. Mengistu didn’t get ‘swept away’, if indeed, he even knew how to swim.
What does the United States do when American religious loonies with Messiah complexes go to North Korea and get arrested?
mitchell, do you know Mengistu didn’t get ‘swept away’, or are you just speculating, based on what you’ve heard about ocean currents, that he may be some religious looney with religious complexes who went to gaza and got arrested? have you heard anything about this case at all from other sources to back up your statements or is it just speculation? and what are the implications of the “main difference” ie if he was a soldier vs a civilian — in terms of israel’s reaction here? do you mean israeli civilians are not worthy of rescue or even publicity if they are missing and suspected of being held by an enemy?
if the civilian was you, should it be kept out of the press?
@ Mitchell Blood: Hey Einstein, I’m just reporting a claim I read on social media concerning his case. Nor do you know what the particular local conditions in the sea on the day in question. Unless you were there. How do you know Mengistu has a “messiah complex?” Or is that just more of your hasbara bullcrap that passes for analysis??
There is nothing racist of taking pride of the “Jewish brain”. There many explanations that do not involve genetic superiority. Is it racist for Malcolm Gladwell to say Asians are better at math test? No. He explains the cultural differences that might contribute to that phenomena.
Israel is heaven for innovations not only in the intelligence and arms sides but also numerous medical fields, green technologies and computers. Those are simple facts.
I believe, much of the success can be attributed to good-old Chutzpah.
What culture is responsible for “Jewish brain” — a Jewish culture or an Israeli culture?
“There is nothing racist of taking pride of the “Jewish brain”.”
Brig. Gen. Sima Vaknin-Gil did not merely “take pride” in the jewish brain. she made an allegation that ‘the enemies’ don’t have ” the same abilities” to censor information ie “protect information” and that was because of this so called a”Jewish brain”. that really sounds like hogwash, as if censoring info took brains. and yes, it is a totally racist statement revealing a racist mindset.
“it’s difficult to maintain censorship and prevent the publication of secret material….We protect information … in terms of our enemies. They don’t have the same abilities …. They don’t have a Jewish brain. ”
seriously folks, it doesn’t take any sort of special brains to censor information. fascism, per se, doesn’t require special brainpower, sadism doesn’t either. there’s a whole host of things that can be imposed on societies that don’t require special brainpower. but smart societies figure out ways to outwit their repressive governments. so why does the israel society go along with it? good sheep? an admiration for oppressive/repressive policies? for surely neither bode well for the concept of ‘jewish brains’.
and if jewish brainpower was so hot, why couldn’t they prevent hezbollah from busting hundreds of spies for israel? where was their superior brain power then? the idea the shin bet or the mossad is extraordinary is a myth, just like a jewish army is ‘more moral’ is a myth. and here it’s being used to justify censorship pawned off as “protects its secrets”. one would have to be a gullible fool to buy into this rationale. too much group think is not healthy.
You seem to miss the point (which Richard didn’t highlight) that she self criticize the current system and was talking about a reform.
It is quite ridicules to only take the explanations on the short comings of the old system and not even mention that a process of change has started. A process Richard might have same share in igniting.
@James: You can’t “reform” a rotten system. I don’t trust her “reform” any more than I trust her judgment about what should be censored.
“There is nothing racist of taking pride of the “Jewish brain”. There many explanations that do not involve genetic superiority.”
So James, I take it that you implicitly agree that Jews are smarter than non-Jews?
Could you explain to me how you got this idea? And in a way that I, with my non-Jewish brain, can understand?
Seems like you haven’t read my comment (or just didn’t understand it).
The whole point was that cultural (and environmental) differences are much more important than the race. Here is an example (http://gladwell.com/outliers/rice-paddies-and-math-tests/) for a different race. Does this make Gladwell a racist?
James, read my comment and don’t be even more condescending than you already are. I am not interested in so-called ‘explanations’ for what you assume. I want to know what gives you the idea in the first place that Jews are smarter than other people.
Leaving out genetic superiority does not absolve you from offering proof for your assumptions.
(Let me guess: Nobel prizes? Don’t make me laugh…)
@James: It makes him an idiot AND racist if he’s claiming race is a factor in Asian or Chinese intellectual achievement.
One of the Israel’s propaganda successes has been the created illusion of Israel’s Jews extraordinary creativeness. Even most Israeli and “international” Jews are believing in that “unseen success” propaganda story. But when we watch closer the patent statistics of USA and Europe the reality makes the Israel’s “exceptional achievements” shrink to their actual size.
European Patent applications
Israel 2005 760 2014 1,041
Finland 2005 1,487 2014 2,193
Sweden 2005 2,500 2014 3,837
Granted European Patents
Israel 2005 224 2014 399
Finland 2005 754 2014 633
Sweden 2005 1,345 2014 1,705
Granted Patents in USA
Israel 2005 976 2014 3,617
Finland 2005 751 2014 1,465
Sweden 2005 1,189 2014 2,946
Sources U.S. PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE and European Patent Office
Israel is on the same level or even below other industrially and economically developed countries using the yearly patents as the measurement instrument. Finland’s population is 5.5 million, Israel’s 8.3 million and Sweden’s 9.7 million so even with per person level Israel is “nothing special”. The industrial and economical level of the normal (meaning minus some small oil producers and small “trade center” countries) countries is “described” by their GDP/person level. Those GDP/person figures tell what Israel is industrially and economically. Not even near of the top of the list.
The explanation to Jews undeniable huge success in getting Nobel prices in fields of science is most probably a relative simple one. Jewish academic researchers have and have had besides an excellent education and cultural tradition also their tribal networks in contacts, steady longtime financing through wealthy Jewish individuals and funds in their research work and the excellent ability to market their research results trough different publications. Also in science the resources and stability matter, not simply the individual brains, Jewish or non-Jewish. In Finland most leading academic researchers have to fight fiercely for their research money and resources needed and then use extraordinary much of their intellectual capacity to report constantly to the university bureaucrats and governmental finance organisations. The low salaries and the short work contracts, often even only some months long, do not encourage young “brains” to that carrier.
Seems like a pissing contest but why not.
“using the yearly patents as the measurement instrument” – this is a ridicules measurement. Patent are being requested in multiple zones so you can’t just add European and US patents. Obviously Europe isn’t a target of Israeli companies. You need to cancel out communities which don’t participate in Israeli growth such as ultra-orthodox. Many Israeli founded companies are traded in the US stock-exchange or move their offices to the Bay area/silicon valley. On the other hand, some investments in Israel aren’t base on economics but ideals.
All I’m trying to say your analysis is greatly lacking. For a country that less than 60 years ago had Austerity policy, and now is headspearing technology in many fields, Israel have progress enormously. It doesn’t make the policies right but discount the obviously is
Well, well James. Do you even know what patent means? Do you seriously believe that Israeli companies and researchers patent mostly often outside Europe and USA. EU and USA are Israel’s main trade partners and the technological centers of the world. EU alone answers 28 percent of Israel’s export and 34% of import to Israel.. Name some Israeli patents which were patented only lets say in China and India. Using patent statistics is a normal way to describe some country’s innovative quality and development level. I used Finland and Sweden as comparison points only to show that compared to other developed countries Israel is nothing extraordinary – only a mediocrity.
This austerity “bullshit” about Israel is absurd. Israel got millions of very well educated people from Europe and Middle East. It had the considerable Jewish “international” contacts and technological / financial resources to be used in “developing” the stolen lands. Lets remember that Israeli Jews created during your hilarious “austerity” period their nuclear weapons. Believe or not in 1967 Israel and Finland were not so far away from each other using GDP per person. It is only a pissing contest for you Israeli Jews – and in that masculine sport you obviously do not want to use facts to measure the length of the arc. You use your hilarious “Israeli” measurements. Like Israeli ministers say: “there is no siege of Gaza and humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza”. Own way of seeing the world ….
To show further Israel’s performance compared to other western smaller and medium sized industrial countries little more data.
European Patent fillings
Austria 2005 2,104 2014 2,501
Switzerland 2005 6,250 2014 7,890
Denmark 2005 1,558 2014 2352
Netherlands 2005 8,671 2014 8,104
Israel 2005 1,609 2014 1,869
As we can see Israel is not the bellybutton of world’s inventions. Next time Israeli propagandists brag about their “enormous” achievements using “Jewish brains” on the field of innovations and start-ups I recommend checking the facts trough the WIPO World Intellectual Property Organization’s Statistical Country Profiles and especially Israel’s profile and make comparisons with other smaller western countries’ profiles.
Not sure how your numbers changed from last post but regardless, patents is a poor measurement. Here is an example for a patent – “Sandwich cookie dipper” https://www.google.co.il/patents/US20120048128?hl=iw&dq=oreo+dipper&ei=naeWVf3vAsLlUrGMgaAF
OMG, what an invention.
Look at VC investments (also not perfect but this is real money people choose to put) and you can see the difference. http://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/Global_venture_capital_insights_and_trends_2014/$FILE/EY_Global_VC_insights_and_trends_report_2014.pdf
@James: You’ve wandered way off the beaten-path into a thicket. I have no interest in debating Chinese aptitude for math or individual patents for Israeli products. No further comments in this thread.
James who do try to con with your hilarious claims. For example every new commercial medicine etc is patented, otherwise all others can copy it and produce for free, even Israelis know that. It is idiotic to claim that patents are simply some kind of new small “household” products. James I have worked as an economist and industrial analyst so I know perfectly well how intellectual property is protected by companies, what patents are and how the level of technological level is estimated.
Israel has made for years enormously noise about its “extraordinary” technological achievements. Successfully because the audience in Israel and USA seem honestly to believe in that country level technological “overachievement”. However if we compare Israel’s real achievements in light of granted patents, GDP/person etc normal meters used in these kind of comparisons most of the Israeli self-praising is revealed to be propaganda with the claim, that Israel’s achievements are something special and unseen. Compared to other western countries equal to the size of Israel, Israel is not even near the top performers. Sure Israel has many successful companies and inventions, but has it more them than other western countries in Israel’s league? No it has not, it fast clear to anybody who inspects closer Israel’s claims of its excellence.
RS writes “Further, the idea that IDF intelligence capabilities somehow derive from Israel’s national genius is also troubling and racist. ” Reference to “Israel’s national genius” is not, strictly speaking, racist but nationalist. But that was not what this spokesperson apparently said. She said “Jewish brains.” I don’t think it helps anyone understand what is what with Israel by recasting this as “Israeli national genius.” First, it is not what the speaker intended at all and second it obscures the fact that “Israeli” has little application apparently in Israel, it certainly is not a recognized nationality. Readers need to understand this. I do understand why you dissociate “Jewish” from “Israeli” but, in this case, it seems misleading to do so. The bragging is about “Jewish” brains, whether it is a racist presumption or an established fact.
you write [ “I do understand why you dissociate “Jewish” from “Israeli” but, in this case, it seems misleading to do so. ].
it is because israel has an 80% majority of Jews (yahudi / yahud) and a 20% minority of PalestinianArabs (arab.muslimun / arabi.muslim). with what you have written you, it is implied that notwithstanding Patai’s book “The Arab Brain” a yahudi brain is contrasted with a muslim brain. there is no such thing as a yahudi brain or a muslim brain. it is because if there were such a thing we should be able to openly talk about and contrast an ashkenazi.yahudi brain with a saphardi.yahudi brain. we will then see all israeli.yahudis jump up and accuse everybody of “anti-semitism” (a mixed-up word devoid of clear meaning) instead of accusing everybody of “anti-yahudism” . this is simply because if they do they will open themselves to a can of mighty racist worms (if you know what i mean).
before i leave i’d like you to enlighten everybody and talk about the american.jewish brain and contrast it with all the rest of the american.other brains e.g. american.latino brain, american.italian brain, american.muslim brain, american.christian brain … you see where i’m heading and it is that anyone like you who thinks this way needs his racist credentials checked. No way to ever happen in Israel lest the israeli.yahudis open themselves to a mighty can of racist worms.
i hope you understand now why I do dissociate “Jewish” from “Israeli” … no ifs or buts here.
Jewish brain is Inherently racist with its implications of racial superiority the decision by Wikipedia2 sensor the articleon mengistu is outrageous and should be publicise this widely as possibleWikipedia should be embarrassed Intu stopping this i shall certainly republish this on my own blog
So, is Wikipedia evil pro-Israeli controlled or a sensible community. You seem to adore it when it swing your why, and swing at it when it doesn’t.
Reading some of the comments by the editors, they seem to try and follow Wikipedia rules. Can you please put a link of the pro-Israeli campaign?
@ james: I’d rather not have you interpret my own views & attitudes toward Wikipedia since you’d inevitably be wrong. In general, Wikipedia is a very useful resource especially for subjects in which there isn’t a strong ideological bias one way or the other by editors who write the articles.
But in this case, once kigelim initiated a campaign to delete the page, announcements were sent to a slew of internal Wikipedia groups who monitor articles for deletion. That led to a concerted effort by these individuals to delete the page. If you examine the statements made by those favoring deletion it’s quite clear there was ideological bias, though I wouldn’t expect you to acknowledge or comprehend it. Wikipedia, in other words, can be exploited by individuals for their own prejudicial purposes.
As for “putting a link of the pro-Israeli campaign,” that doesn’t even make sense in English, nor do I know what you’re asking.
Snark of the sort you displayed in your comment generally elicits a very negative response from me. I’d suggest you move on to a new thread before making things any worse than they already are.
User —МандичкаYO seems to be focused on deleting articles which don’t pass a certain bar
and so is E.M.Gregory
@James: Yes, when an article is slated for deletion there’s a small army of editors associated through internal Wikipedia groups who go to work to get the article deleted. Which is unfortunate because new articles don’t have a constituency of their own to advocate on their behalf. As for passing a certain bar, these delete mavens don’t understand much about the issues, the significance of the story or standards of journalism employed to report stories under security gag orders in Israel.