Wikipedia deletes entry for murdered IDF soldier, family ‘thought there couldn’t be more pain’

The editors concluded that the encyclopedia is not a commemorative site for Israel’s fallen, including St. Sgt. Barel Shmueli, whose entry was written last month.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Editors of the world’s biggest collaborative encyclopedia voted to delete the article on St. Sgt. Barel Shmueli Tuesday, arguing that it wasn’t the proper place for the soldier’s biography.

“Wikipedia is an encyclopedia and not a memorial site, and this difference is extremely important. It isn’t possible to write about every soldier or civilian killed in this or that operation. Leaving this entry is a material injury to all those who received no entry,” wrote one of the editors in the long discussion among the Hebrew-language volunteer monitors of the compendium.

Other editors pointed out that the Ministry of Defense runs a website called Yizkor (Memorial), which contains the biographies of all those who have fallen while serving their country.

The decision was a heavy blow to Shmueli’s family.

“I thought that there couldn’t be more pain,” sister Hila Rachimi wrote on her Facebook page. “Since Barel was killed, I have experienced – my whole family has experienced – pain in every limb of the body, like a fire. Today I was shocked to find out that a vote is being taken whether to leave Barel’s entry in Wikipedia. You get it? A hero of Israel, a combat solider who risked his life time and again, who was ready to die for the country. Is there any greater national symbol than this? More certain than this? [Is there anything] more right than Barel’s values, friendship, courage, sacrifice, reaching every boy and girl?”

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“I don’t know who makes these decisions,” she concluded, “but whoever voted for erasing his memory, the only thing we have left, should know that he spat in our faces.”

Shmueli’s mother, Nitza, expressed an even deeper pain, telling 103FM, “I felt that my child was being murdered a second time.”

When asked if she thought the deletion showed that the Left is also in control of Wikipedia, she first answered, “It seems so.” She then backtracked, saying she doesn’t know who made the decision, but that “apparently they are narrow-minded people and can’t reach the status of Barel and the families who have sacrificed their children for the country. It’s a great pity.”

Shmueli was killed in last August during a riot on the Gazan border when a terrorist shot him at point-blank range through a gun slit in the concrete fortification he was in. He died several days later in hospital, having never regained consciousness. The Hebrew Wikipedia entry was inserted in mid-December.

Wikipedia’s stance stressed the objective principles behind the decision and transparency with which it was made.

“Wikipedia and its editors respect everyone, and that is precisely why the principles have been defined for the importance of personalities to be included in the encyclopedia, including special and separate treatment of IDF soldiers,” its statement said in part.

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“All discussions, including [entries’] importance, deletion and reconstruction, are matter-of-fact, and are intended to preserve the principle of objectivity and non-discrimination, including among IDF soldiers, which is necessary for the purpose of maintaining Wikipedia’s credibility and neutrality.

“It should be remembered that there are many important sites, official and unofficial, that deal with the commemoration of all IDF martyrs… like St. Sgt. Barel Hadaria Shmueli on the Yizkor site.

“In conclusion, we invite all our readers to read in depth the discussions in the deliberation pages, which are transparent and accessible to anyone, and even to add factual arguments to either side, while taking into account the established principles.”