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Latest comment: 13 years ago by WereSpielChequers in topic Virtual conferencing

What a Shameful Choice


I simply don't understand how Wikimedia could have made such a decision. Israel is an apartheid (a hybrid between Jim Crow and South African style apartheid) state that oppresses millions of people and yet Wikimedia gives Israel this honor. How shameful.

Will Palestinians who are under Israeli military occupation be allowed to attend this event? How about the Palestinians who were kicked out of their homes in Haifa, will they be able to attend?

Israel is being boycotted [1] and many organizations, corporations and individuals are involved in this boycott and yet Wikimedia is oblivious to these events and to the suffering of the Palestinians.

In the fall of 2009 the United Nations accused Israel of committing crimes against humanity in its aggression against the civilian population of Gaza and yet the Wikimedia committee selects Haifa Israel?

A very poor and tasteless choice.

Of course it is a poor choice, but not tasteless, Wikimedia wants to show openly they support apartheid. I don't, and I know hundreds others who have attended previous Wikimania events won't attend this time for the very same reason. Kudos to people of high moral values. Khaled Khalil 20:12, 7 August 2010 (UTC)Reply

Arab countries


How about attendees from those Arab countries who do not allow their citizens to enter Israel.--Saqib Qayyum 09:19, 11 January 2010 (UTC)Reply

This issue will be addressed. There is a possibility to ask the Foreign Ministry to allow certain visitors from such countries to come without stamping their passports when entering and leaving the country. Dror_K 07:47, 8 February 2010 (UTC)Reply
Conversely, I have a number of Arab visas in my passport. Would that hinder entry into Israel? — Coren (talk) / (en-wiki) 18:01, 8 February 2010 (UTC)Reply
No. Deror avi 21:02, 8 February 2010 (UTC)Reply
Better for anyone who have an Arab name, Arab passport or Arab Visa in his passport to NOT attend this event, you WILL get humiliated by the racist state of Israel, like the president of university of Miami, who was formerly a US secretary of health and human services got yesterday [2], unlike you, she was there for the only purpose of supporting Israel! Khaled Khalil 19:26, 7 August 2010 (UTC)Reply

Having looked into the above issue, it is recommended that you carry with you, an additional piece of paper with you and when you pass through the visa point, request that the paper be stamped and not the passport. You then keep that paper with you during your stay and then dispose of it after your stay. Hope this information is helpful. 10:59, 9 February 2010 (UTC)Reply

I think that sounds like you are recommending that Wikimedians from certain countries break their countries laws by attending this, and you are ignoring the real risk they would be in if their identity and attendance was ever revealed after they got home. Staying off camera and not having their username appear on any of the wikimania pages would give them some security, but I fear it would make them second class attendees. How many countries/potential attendees are we talking about here, and is there another option that wouldn't involve advising people to break their countries law?
Also what would be the position in terms of travel insurance for a Wikimedian attending this from a country that didn't allow its citizens to visit Israel; I assume the travel insurance they bought in Iran would not cover them for an injury or illness in Israel, would they be able to get cover in whatever intermediate country they traveled through? WereSpielChequers 16:58, 30 March 2010 (UTC)Reply
We have thought of that - first - usernames are not real names so people can show their usernames on pages.
As to Insureance - Wikimedia Israel is negotiating with local medical insurers in order to purchase medical insurance for those participants. Deror avi 07:09, 31 March 2010 (UTC)Reply
We are talking mainly about Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Lybia, Yemen and maybe Afghanistan too. There are some other countries that technically do not allow their citizens to visit Israel, but don't mind much if they do, as long as they keep low profile while in Israel (e.g. Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Indonesia and a few others). Now, we are not inventing the wheel here. International conferences are held in Israel quite often, occasionally with attendees from the aforementioned countries(the low profile strategy is probably why we don't hear about these visits often). As you might know, there is a big Baha'i community in Iran, and, according to some reports on the Iranian press, the Iranian Baha'i leaders go occasionally to Haifa for the conferences at the Baha'i center (of course, no one in Israel would confirm or deny such reports). So, political problems there are, but there are also well-functioning methods to deal with them. One last thing - when Wikimania was held in Alexandria, Iranian and Palestinian passport holders could not obtain a visa (funnily enough, Israelis got visas with no problems). Getting a visa to Taiwan and the US is not an easy task, and Wikimania was held in both of these countries. In all cases the organizing teams did their best to extend help, and this time won't be an exception. One thing is for sure - Palestinians won't have a problem attending Wikimania in Haifa, as we can arrange entry permits for them quite easily. Dror_K 21:43, 1 April 2010 (UTC)Reply
I see a big difference between it being difficult to legitimately get a visa to go to a country and it being illegal to go to a country. Are you suggesting that wikimedians from certain countries break their national laws to attend wikimania, or are there arrangements in place that would allow them to attend?
Thanks for answering the insurance question, however I'm not comfortable with the response re usernames. If for example it will be public that a particular Yemeni wikipedian has attended a Wikimania conference in Israel, then that user is forever after at risk of inadvertently releasing their identity, by for example accidentally editing via an IP address whilst logged out. Either that means we have to be much more discrete as to who is attending and what is happening, or we have a special group of "low profile" attendees.
I also fear that there is a real security issue here. If anyone can get into Israel to attend Wikimania provided they open a wikipedia account and do a few months editing, then I fear that one or more groups might take the opportunity to do just that. Have you checked with your security services, are they really comfortable that anyone can attend, including people who start editing after the bidding starts and for whom this would be the first time they meet fellow wikimedians in real life? WereSpielChequers 15:32, 3 April 2010 (UTC)Reply
  1. Breaking the law - In many countries the very use of the Wikimedia projects might be perceived as illegal or at least illegitimate. Would you suggest that the Wikimedia Foundation avoid reaching out to these communities in order not to encourage people to break the law? The laws against visiting Israel are the result of a hostile political policy. It is for every human being to choose whether s/he cooperates with such policy or not. We, as organizer, can do our best to protect her/his safety and wellbeing by catering for insurance and passport stamps. We do not see a moral problem here, this is not the equivalent of assisting people to steal or act unsocially. The US law bans US citizens from visiting Cuba. While there is currently no bid to host Wikimania in Havana, I don't think the US law should be the hindrance in such case. Actually, the Israeli law forbids Israeli citizens from traveling to certain countries in the Middle East, and yet, Israeli citizens visited these countries for international conferences with and without Israeli official permission, and I would do the same, because as I said, this is not the equivalent of stealing.
  2. Keeping low profile - You might find this surprising, but a visit of a Yemenite citizens to Israel is not considered such a big deal anymore. It doesn't happen too often, but s/he won't have the entire press waiting for him at the airport. We will do our best to avoid letting the press know about her/his nationality should there be a safety problem. This kind of problem is hardly new to Israelis, and the local press is not so "blood thirsty" as to put such Yemenite visitor's picture on the front page. When in Alexandria, I met nationals of countries hostile to Israel. We kindly requested not to take our picture together, and not to include these meetings in press reports. We had full cooperation, and everyone is safe.
  3. Israeli security services - The Israeli security service don't mind whether a person has an account on a Wikimedia project. The process goes as follows: (1) The person registers as a Wikimania attendee and informs the organizers that he needs help in visa arrangements. (2) The organizers collect his personal details (probably through the US-based team) and apply for visa on his behalf. (3) The Israeli authorities check his personal details and decide whether or not they let him into Israel. In case of refusal, the organizers will ask to know the reason. The authorities work with their own databases, and won't reveal the reason in details, but the organizers will try to make sure that the refusal is not arbitrary. Dror_K 16:44, 3 April 2010 (UTC)Reply
  1. I see a difference between Wikimedia not cooperating with a law against it, and encouraging people to break a law about something else. I'd still be interested in knowing what proportion of wikimedians live in such countries, as I suspect this is bigger than similar problems re the US.
  2. My concern here is not that the Israeli press would deliberately make an issue of these people, rather that if we run Wikimania 2011 the same way as we ran 2009 then every active attendee is liable to appear in several videos on the net, unless that is they avoid asking questions in debates or appearing in parts of the auditorium that are covered by cameras. At the very least their username is liable to appear in several pages such as the attendee list. So if people participate fully they will be leaving records on the Internet that link them to a visit to Israel, and if they come from a country where that is illegal that could put them at risk, or deter them from coming.
  3. I'm surprised at the security response. I could understand if this was some academic body where all potential attendees have histories that go back years and the norm is to work in your real identity. But Wikimania is the opposite, there will be some attendees in 2011 who only opened their accounts after they knew this might be in Israel. I'd be surprised if that wasn't seen as a security risk by Israel, yet at the same time we wouldn't want them excluded. Do you know what proportion of people in Islamic countries would be refused visas by Israel? WereSpielChequers 17:30, 6 April 2010 (UTC)Reply
  • The whole thing is simpler than it sounds. First of all, any traveler who applies for a visa, no matter where he comes from and where he goes, has to submit her/his real personal details to the authorities. The authorities do not check her/his account on Wikipedia or something like that. They check his background and decide whether they can trust him or not. The Israeli authorities do exactly that. When it comes to nationals of countries that are hostile to Israel, the visa process is naturally longer, and chances of refusal are higher, and yet, the Israeli authorities have no interest in hindering international conferences, and are not inclined to refuse visas in such cases, unless there is a good reason (let's put it this way, if you are an Iranian national and an IRGC soldier, then you'll probably be refused, but I doubt if there are many IRGC soldiers who wish to attend Wikimania).

  • Wikimedia does not encourage people to break the law. It might hold its annual conference in Haifa. If there is a law in a certain country that forbids visits to Haifa, so be it. We cannot help that. We can take all kinds of measures to protect them if they choose to attend the conference, but if they see a moral problem here, we cannot help that. Do you expect Wikimedia to rule out an event in Havana, because the US law forbids Americans from visiting Cuba? This is not they way we do things here.
  • Despite the large number of cameras on the venue, we can still prevent photography in case it is necessary in order to protect someone's safety. The cameras are operated by human beings. Dror_K 18:45, 6 April 2010 (UTC)Reply

No diplomatic relation


Indonesia have no diplomatic relation with Israel, I don't see how we can get in... Serenity.id 17:19, 28 February 2010 (UTC)Reply

People can visit countries that do not have diplomatic ties with their home countries - it happens daily all over the world, including in Israel. We would be happy to see an Indonesian delegation at the event when being held in Haifa. Ldorfman 19:34, 28 February 2010 (UTC)Reply

How? Serenity.id 00:38, 1 March 2010 (UTC)Reply

The organizing team will contact the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and arrange that. There is a procedure for granting visas for citizens of such countries if they want to come to an international conference held in Israel. I believe that in such cases, passports are not stamped in order to avoid causing problems to the guest when he gets back home. Dror_K 18:45, 3 March 2010 (UTC)Reply
A motion requesting for Visa may be filed (through someone in Israel, in a third nearby country (for example - in Thailand or Hong Kong), or by mail through another country (through the US for example). Once the visa is obtained, enterance and exit from Israel is allowed. It should take about three weeks to process the visa application and costs about $21. As mentioned passports are not stamped in order to avoid causing problems to the guest when he gets back home. Deror avi 07:09, 31 March 2010 (UTC)Reply



Really excited by the idea of a Wikimania taking place in Haifa! Hope this will be possible... Insh Allah! --Kimdime 10:15, 10 February 2010 (UTC)Reply

Organisation Team


Do you guys have a organisation team in place? Seddon 16:05, 28 February 2010 (UTC)Reply

Yes. for some months now. Deror avi 16:44, 28 February 2010 (UTC)Reply
Practically all members of Wikimedia Israel are involved in the organization to some extent, but there are also non-member volunteers. Dror_K 18:48, 3 March 2010 (UTC)Reply



What are the proposed dates for the conference? James Owen 18:05, 30 March 2010 (UTC)Reply

Wednesday - Sunday, August 4-7, 2011; Hacking days take place on August 2nd and 3rd. Deror avi 07:10, 31 March 2010 (UTC)Reply

This should be put on the page itself! I looked for it, as many people would. No reason not to include the dates.

Endorsing illegal actions


I won't repeat WereSpielChequers argument, but I think that the page should not encourage people in countries that don't allow going to Israel (such as Arab and Muslim counties) to go there. No illegal action that might cause serious harm to Wikipedians should be (publicly) endorsed and supported in Meta. I suggest removing all counties that don't have relationships with Israel immediately.--OsamaK 16:47, 18 July 2010 (UTC)Reply

There is a difference between not having relations and banning travel. Not every nation on earth can afford to have consulates etc all over the place, but that doesn't necessarily mean they ban people from going places, so yes I agree with your suggestion, but suggest restricting it just to ones that ban their citizens from going to Israel. There is also the possibility of requesting an exception be made to a ban, I don't know if this is worth exploring but if so I think it would be better coming from Jimbo or the foundation rather than the organizers in Israel or the potential participants. WereSpielChequers 09:04, 19 July 2010 (UTC)Reply

Virtual conferencing


Why not make Haifa the first part virtual Wikimania? Gdansk had streaming but we have the technology to skype conference call from anywhere. Lets use it and enable people not physically present to ask questions and participate in sessions. This would be at its most useful in the less well attended sessions, as there were some that could have done with more audience participation. You'd probably need an onsite person to watch the skype chat forum and put questions from there to the speaker. WereSpielChequers 11:00, 19 July 2010 (UTC)Reply

  • Because those who wish to attend the conference in person should not be prevented under any circumstances. The whole idea about making a conference is to meet one another in the first place. Maysara 20:17, 12 August 2010 (UTC)Reply
Yes, but if I read correctly he's suggesting that we have skype conferencing available to expand the audience at a real-world conference. As someone who is unable to travel to Israel, I would be interested in being able to participate in such a way. Watching streaming is great, but being able to ask questions and interact with the speaker from overseas would be fantastic- and I imagine, not impossible to organise. sonia 21:43, 12 August 2010 (UTC)Reply
  • You can talk about how fantastic it is, but it doesn't matter! Others might not find it so much fantastic. And yes, it's not impossible to organize, but it is indeed damn hard. If all those who will not be able to attend happen to find it equally fantastic to participate through video conference, then, it will be impossible to maintain. It is a nice feature, but it does not replace or compensate the possibility of being physically there. Maysara 01:55, 13 August 2010 (UTC)Reply
We have five tracks of events, and inevitably some events will get much more attendees than others. I don't think that a fully virtual Wikimania would undermine the event, but it would certainly make it harder to get a question in during a popular discussion. However my experience of the last two wikimanias is that some of the more specialist presentations and those that clash with trending topics can have insufficient audience participation. For those events a skype conference call could be a big positive, of course it wouldn't be the same as attending because so much takes place in spontaneous discussions over coffee and lunch. But I think it would strengthen the event and reach out to those who can't or won't attend this year, maybe some of the people who join in a Skype chat this year will show up in DC. Providing I can get the technology to work I hope to make my presentation a simultaneous skype call. WereSpielChequers 10:00, 14 July 2011 (UTC)Reply