Letter - Concerns Regarding Wikimedia Foundation’s Stance Amidst Israel’s War on Gaza


Letter - Concerns Regarding Wikimedia Foundation’s Stance Amidst Israel’s War on Gaza

To Maryana Iskander
CEO of the Wikimedia Foundation

Subject: Concerns Regarding Wikimedia Foundation’s Stance Amidst Israel’s War on Gaza


The Palestinian Digital Rights Coalition (PDRC) sees with great concern Wikimedia Foundation’s apparent circumvention of addressing Israel’s deliberate actions during the ongoing war on Gaza in its recent statement “Updates on the crisis in Gaza and Israel” released on December 1st, and acknowledges its statement made on December 5 calling for “unrestricted internet connectivity and access to knowledge in Gaza.” The coalition is doubly concerned at Wikimedia’s co-founder and board member Jimmy Wales' role in perpetuating online disinformation surrounding the war, which is seen to starkly contradict the organisation’s mission of combatting disinformation, casting a negative light on Wikimedia Foundation’s integrity. Seeing such an underwhelming communication from the Foundation after eight weeks of complete silence about the atrocities while its co-founder and board member continued amplifying pro-war disinformation is disheartening.

The coalition notes that the use of passive and evasive language referencing internet shutdowns in Gaza, as if they occurred in a vacuum, represents an avoidance of addressing the deliberate nature of the shutdowns which is evident in the sustained and systematic disruptions to connectivity. Furthermore, a commitment to ‘neutrality’, especially in the context of severe asymmetry, should not overshadow the obligation to condemn deliberate attacks, including to educational infrastructure such as universities, schools, public libraries, and historic archives among others, as well as the deliberate targeting of remaining telecommunications infrastructure and blockading of fuel, which results in a total communications blackout.  

The PDRC also raises concern about perceived double standards within Wikimedia Foundation, highlighting the sharp contrast in how Wikimedia Foundation displayed robust support for the Ukrainian Wikipedian community, writing “Ukrainian volunteers have heroically continued to add content and make edits to Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects ensuring that people everywhere continue to have access to neutral, reliable information in times of crisis, and demonstrating our shared belief in knowledge as a human right.” Meanwhile, the lack of electricity and connectivity in Gaza severely limits people's access to the internet and basic means of communication while under bombs. Journalists, photographers and influencers who have used their online platforms to share information out of Gaza have been deliberately targeted by Israel. Wikimedia Foundation failed to extend similar solidarity and amplification to Palestine’s Wikipedian community in Gaza, even when some of their Wikipedia contributors were targeted and killed in Israel’s indiscriminate bombing.

Lastly, the PDRC expresses shock and dismay over the apparent lack of pushback by Wikimedia Foundation against the dissemination of potential disinformation by Wikipedia co-founder and WMF board member himself, Jimmy Wales. Among the posts he amplified multiple times are ones that included debunked claims of “beheaded toddlers,” as well as unsubstantiated claims in the immediate aftermath of Al-Ahly (Baptist Hospital bombing). Such false claims have been used by Israel to justify collective punishment and legitimize brutal attacks on Gaza’s civilian population. This behaviour, coming from the most influential individual in the Wikipedia community, stands in contradiction to the organisation's mission of combating disinformation and casts a negative light on WMF's integrity.

The Palestinian Digital Rights Coalition (PDRC) urges the Wikimedia Foundation to reevaluate its stance and take decisive action in light of the ongoing assault on Gaza. We urge the Foundation to revise its communication and to acknowledge the deliberate nature of attacks in Gaza, including the targeting of telecommunications and educational infrastructure, and actively support the Palestinian Wikipedian community, aligning its response with the same fervour displayed for other affected communities. Additionally, the PDRC strongly recommends the Wikimedia Foundation address and rectify the apparent contradictions within its leadership, emphasizing the need for accountability and adherence to the organization’s core values in combating disinformation. Wikimedia must uphold its integrity by championing neutrality while actively denouncing deliberate misinformation and supporting communities in crisis with equitable solidarity.

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