Our Appeal to the Wikimedia Foundation
Dear visitors, thank you for your interest in our plea. The next Wikimania conference is set to take place in Haifa, Israel on August 4 – 7, 2011. The location was chosen based on a city bid to host the conference.
We are a group of young women and men, from around the world, who are deeply concerned with this problematic choice of venue. We, therefore, respectfully call on the Wikimedia Foundation to:
* Read our plea;
* Edit the location of Wikimania 2011; and,
* View history of apartheid in Israel.
This campaign is open source in that everyone is invited to contribute their own messages to further our cause. We invite you to comment here or email us on free[at]wikimania2011.com to send us your supportive arguments so that we can post them on this website.
Read our plea:
Wikimania is a conference held every year and attended by users of Wikipedia and other projects of the Wikimedia Foundation, which prides itself on its mission of providing free knowledge and free access to knowledge for all. Holding Wikimania in Haifa, Israel is counter to the spirit, ethos, and goals of the Wikimedia Foundation. Here’s why:
1. Access: Israel is a highly inaccessible country for majority of the population in the region. The apartheid wall separating the occupied West Bank from the Israeli state, the siege on Gaza and the state of war between Israel and majority of countries across the region makes Israel a highly inaccessible, unsafe and unwelcoming environment for majority of techies in the region. Holding the Wikimania conference in Israel jeopardizes the impact it would have on open source software development in the region as well as limit its potential of reaching hundreds of emerging and established talented techies. It is strange that this was not brought up directly in the Q&A of the Haifa bid. The organizers might have tried to convince organizers that this was not a problem and that they would create special passes for participants who needed them. But this is false information and puts the Wikimaniacs at permanent high security risks. How then is this location ensuring free access to all without discrimination?
2. Solidarity: International human rights standards compel us to take a stand against the atrocious violations of Palestinian human rights by the state of Israel. On an international level, many people are taking a stance against Israel’s impunity by refusing to engage with Israel and so many Wikimaniacs will choose not to attend the conference. In the Q&A of the Haifa bid, it was offensive to read “The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is limited to areas near the Gaza Strip and the West Bank”. This separates the occupation from the Israel and feeds into the illusion that Palestinian living within Israel do not face any discrimination or violence. Apartheid, colonization and occupation is an integral part of everyday life in Israel and turning a blind eye to makes us complicit. We cannot forget that it is the same state of Israel that is oppressing millions of Palestinians only because of their ethnicity cutting off power, water, supplies, medicine, phones, Internet, and basic human dignity from them. We call on the Wikimedia Foundation to respect the pain of an entire people and refuse to carry on its events under the oppressive state of Israel as if there is no war, no starvation, and no injustice taking place daily under the same roof.
Edit the location of Wikimania 2011:
We call on you, our friends at the Wikimedia Foundation, to listen to our plea and edit the location of Wikimania 2011 as soon as possible, while there is still time. We call on you also to stand strong against the pro-Israel lobby that works on twisting facts to white-wash Israel’s crimes and support its apartheid system against Palestinians, Wikipedia being one of its explicit weapons to do so. See this article too.
View history of apartheid in Israel:
They say there is no wrong and right in war and the Israeli lobby goes out of its way to spread false information about how their state is a democracy and how it only kills people to defend its security and how the Palestinians are barbarians that don’t want peace. Wikipedia contributors and editors, out of all people, should know how difficult it is to get the authentic voices, voices of the underdogs, those with least power and resources, out into the open. Even with equal opportunity to contribute, the massive power imbalance disadvantages Palestinians and their history. It is our responsibility as human beings who seek to come as close to truth and justice as we can to read, listen, learn, and always remember that the loudest voices is rarely the right one.