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Wikimedia Israel celebrates 10th anniversary with awards for the promotion of open knowledge[edit]

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  • Wikimedia Israel, celebrated its 10th anniversary in a festive event. Wikimedia Foundation Chair, Christophe Henner, arriving especially for this event, presented the “Wikimedia Awards for the promotion of open knowledge in Israel” to two organizations and two individuals that made significant contributions to promoting Wikimedia’s vision – “a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge”.

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On the 6th of September, Wikimedia Israel (WMIL), celebrated its 10th anniversary in a festive event, attended by Wikipedians, volunteers, partners, and donors. Wikimedia Foundation Chair, Christophe Henner, arriving especially for this event, presented the “Wikimedia Awards for the promotion of open knowledge in Israel” to two organizations and two individuals that made significant contributions to promoting Wikimedia’s vision – "Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. That's our commitment". It is the first time that such an award is conferred by a Wikimedia chapter.

The winners of the awards are:

  • Israel Internet Association (ISOC-IL): throughout the years, the association supported various WMIL projects – from the first Wikipedia Academy in 2009, through hosting the 7th Wikimania in 2011, the Pikiwiki project (a database of free images of Israel), and many other collaborations.
  • Haifa University: the university is the leading academic institution with regards to Wikipedia writing assignments, and as such has paved the way for many other academic institutions. The collaboration began in 2011, and since then hundreds of Wikipedia articles have been written in dozens of courses. The initiators of the project are Dr. Ory Amitay (user:Ory Amitay) and Hana Yariv (user:Hanay), and so far 22 lecturers have participated in it. Thus, Haifa university is a pioneer in its contribution to open knowledge.
  • Former Education Minister, Rabbi Shai Piron: during his term at the Ministry of Education, Rabbi Piron opened the door to WMIL and to extensive activity in the education system. The announcement of an official collaboration between an Education Ministry and Wikimedia was the first of its kind, anywhere in the world. Due to Rabbi Piron’s recognition of the importance of integrating Wikipedia in the education system, 1,200 K-12 teachers have so far received training on Wikipedia literacy and principles of Wikipedia editing. Furthermore, with Piron’s approval, the program in which high school students write Wikipedia articles was expanded. The program continues today and forms a central part of WMIL’s activity.
  • Mr. Oren Helman, former director of the Government Press Office: as director of the GPO, Mr. Helman assisted in promoting an amendment to copyright law, by which state photographs were released to free, non-commercial use, thereby exempting the public from paying for usage of GPO photos. Mr. Helman’s work for the release of state materials is unique in Israel. Together with former ministers Michael Eitan and Meir Sheetrit, Mr. Helman heralded a change in the state of Israel’s attitude to open content.

Since 2007, the organization has accomplished many achievements which have positioned it as one of the leading chapters:

Israel is a leader in the integration of Wikipedia in the educational system: in recent years, students in high-schools and in academic institutions have written more than 1500 Wikipedia articles. Tens of thousands of students learned Wikipedia editing, and about 1,200 teachers have received training on the educational use of Wikipedia,as part of the Ministry of Education’s official further education program. The success of Wikimedia Israel’s activities in the education system has expanded since the end of 2016 also to Arab-speaking schools in Israel.

Releasing state-owned photographs for free use – after a three-year public campaign, in which WMIL promoted an amendment to copyright laws, the government of Israel made a precedent-setting decision, allowing free use of all photographs appearing on government websites. The amendment to the law received the nickname “Wikipedia law”.

In 2011, the 7th Wikimania, was held in Haifa, attended by more than 700 of the movements’ finest members, from 56 countries. In 2016, the international Wikimedia Hackathon was held in Jerusalem, with 130 developers from 17 countries participating. Israel is thus the only country to date to have hosted the two major international events of the Wikimedia movement.

We look forward to more years of success in promoting open knowledge in Israel.

The winners of the awards: Representatives of Israel Internet Association, Oren Helman and Representatives of Haifa University with Wikimedia Foundation Chair, Christophe Henner and Itzik Edri and Michal Lester (WMIL)
Group photo: WMIL 10th anniversary
WMIL 10th anniversary cake

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Michal Lester and Keren Shatzman Wikimedia Israel