Citizendium, living The Lobby, Google, Belgium and the national rights of Palestinian Israelis

Investigating Belgium has presented me with my first likely reason to consult Citizendium, the fork in the Wikipedia project which introduces some light-touch editorial control for the sake of accuracy, currency, completeness, proportionality and all the other things which make a good encyclopaedia a good encyclopaedia. At the current time it has over 2000 articles – one of those had to be Belgium.

Oh – no Belgium yet. I’d have thought that world states would be the first place people wanted to start, but the only related entry is one on Belgian cuisine containing the rather hurtful pronouncement that “Belgium is a nation of Gourmands rather than Gourmets which translates into big cuisine rather than fine cuisine” (sounds like my kind of place considering I just put away 2 tofutti icecreams and 5 cones in rapid succession). Interesting how these social networking projects grow.

So I slunk back to Wikipedia to find out about Belgium. Because there’s this article in the New Statesman (yes I read it – I just don’t want to fund it any more – which reminds me, in pursuit of scholarly insights of an anthropological nature, I’ve launched my own weekend-long Lobby to badger Matty into ending his subscription to the New Statesman. As part of the campaign I’ve come up with a really clever and satirical way of referring to the New Statesman: the Jew Hatesman*. This I found so brilliant (almost as brilliant as when the anti-Zionists designated Israelis ‘NaZionists’) I decided I must have plagiarised it so I searched the Web. Result! Not only is ‘Jew Hatesman’ a googlewhack but I also scored an apology.

Antisemitic googlewhack

My antisemitic search upset Google so much that I didn’t get any sponsored links at all – not even from the Klan or Jew Watch. And they presented a message that they’re disturbed about the results “as well” (only I’m not disturbed – I’m really happy about my googlewhack). The message seemed primarily intended to share my pain, distance Google from any search results, and make a gentle stand against censorship.

But I wasn’t 100% sure whether Jew Hatesman had been censored or not – in the course of searching for more information I found a startling new theory that Google censors everything because:

Come on, people, what did you seriously expect? Google is Jewish-owned.

This is how the Jews aspire to impose Holocaust mythology today – by funneling everything through portals that censor revisionist materials.

Of course. Snore.

Sure, there’s a petition urging Google to censor the links to hate sites returned when you search for the word ‘Jew’ (Jew Watch is the highest ranking result). It’s had about a third of a million signatures – way more than the 50k it set out to get – but Google resists. Jew Watch is still number one. When Abe Foxman of the ADL expressed his concern about the high ranking of hate sites in the Google search results for “Jew”, Google wrote back that they didn’t want to interfere with their PageRank algorithm but they were looking into ways of categorising content in such a way as you can filter it out and avoid being ‘disturbed’ (because out of sight is out of mind, right?) . Good – I reserve the right to disturb myself on Google.

A search for all kinds of permutations of ‘Jew’ and ‘Hate’ is fruitless – only ‘Jew Hatesman’ gets that message. But what I find really funny is that Google knows I mean the New Statesman – that’s how good the pun is. Shame I’ll be dissolving The Lobby today, although at least after I click Publish here it won’t be a googlewhack any more. Meanwhile Matty is not caving in to pressure to cancel his New Statesman subscription – what, am I destined to be just another ineffective Jewish Lobby? Unsatisfactory progress necessitates an escalation in Lobby activity. I have plans to focus attention on his girlfriend – surely she has some influence.)

Belgium. Belgium was born in 1830 out of a revolutionary secession from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. Very crudely speaking, Belgium’s divided itself into three linguistically-determined geographical communities – the southern Francophone Wallonia, the German-speaking Eastern Cantons, the northern Dutch-speaking Flemish Region. In the nineteenth century the Walloons were lauding it over the Flemings culturally and economically, but in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the Flemings regrouped with their own counter-movement. To diffuse the ethnic and linguistic tensions which were threatening Belgian unity, devolution was brought in through changes to the constitution – the different regions have considerable autonomy and a king called Albert who among other things tries to foster cooperation and peaceful coexistence in the face of divisive laws like Francophone parties being banned from standing in Flanders and vice versa. However, David Charter reports in the New Statesman that Belgium, three months after its general election, is having difficulties setting up a coalition government. Leferme, the leader of the Flemish winners Flemish Christian Democrats, is thought to be in favour of secession – starting with decentralising taxation – and one poll suggested that 43% of Flemings feel the same. Wallonia on the other hand, with 15% unemployment and very few of the country’s tourist attractions, is not sure that it can manage on its own (bilingual Brussels is busy with preparations to become Europe’s Washington D.C.). David Charter opines “the separatist genie is out of the bottle” and predicts “as the seat of the European Union, a break-up would be taken by Eurosceptics as a powerful symbol of the folly of a greater federal programme for Europe”.

Insightful comment is beyond me at this stage (look at the time) which is a shame because, besides being interesting in itself, separatist movements particularly pique my interest these days since the position paper submitted to the Knesset late last year by the National Committee of the Heads of Arab Local Authorities in Israel – The Future Vision of Palestinian Arabs in Israel. Their bid is in the same direction (separate national rights) – but for very few of the same reasons as Belgium – this is not a case of a wish to unhitch themselves from the needier sections of society – rather the Israeli Palestinians make the case that national rights as their only hope for full civic rights and an escape from dependency. More on which later.

*Anyone who seriously started calling the New Statesman the Jew Hatesman would be a donkey. The New Statesman is not Der Stürmer – it’s just gone a tiny bit wonky recently.

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