Sunday, March 15, 2009

You Can Write Anti-Israel Screeds Based on What You Read on Wikipedia and the Columbus Dispatch Will Print it as if it Were an Op-Ed (Part II)

A while back I sent a letter to the Columbus Dispatch concerning their decision to print an anti Israel op-ed style letter to the editor that quoted Wikipedia as a source. The Dispatch printed my letter. A few days later a letter criticizing me was also printed:

Writer's criticism was incomplete
Columbus Dispatch, The (OH) - Sunday, February 22, 2009
In Benzion N. Chinn 's Feb. 14 letter, "Using Wikipedia as a source undermines credibility," he disparaged Wikipedia. He questioned a Wikipedia entry on Israeli/Zionist actions that have led to the appropriation of Palestinian lands. The actions of Israeli/Zionists have been well-documented by many other sources. Sacred Landscape: The Buried History of the Holy Land Since 1948, a book by former deputy mayor of Jerusalem Meron Benvenisti, would be a good starting point. Chinn also failed to mention that any entry in Wikipedia is available for editing by anyone with additional or contradictory information. Perhaps Chinn needs to join in the Wikipedia process. Chinn questioned letter writer Aghlaba Peerzada's understanding of critical writing and extended an invitation to him to attend a class he ( Chinn ) is teaching. Perhaps Chinn should seek out a class for himself. STEVEN BORNSTEIN Columbus

I would like to point out that Mr. Bornstein never actually deals with the issue at hand. I never said that Israel was above criticism or that legitimate scholarly criticism could not be put forth against Israel. I have not read the book mentioned so I will not say anything for or against it. I acknowledge that Wikipedia can be edited by anyone. That is precisely the problem. I have edited Wikipedia articles in the past. This may make them better articles but it does not give them authority. There is still no one putting their name and reputation behind the article. So I stand with my previous statement. I have no problem with people criticizing Israel they need to do better than Wikipedia.

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