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If you’ve ever used Google to search for information on Jews, Zionism on Israel you’ll have noticed a problem. The information on the top 5 sites in a search on Jews is likely to leave any school child rather confused. The results include not only Jews for Jesus, but also the antisemitic conspiracy site Jew Watch. Jewish students find these results are likely to feel the world is a less safe place than it ought to be. Students with no personal knowledge of Jews might think they’ve discovered a secret and begin embracing the shadowy world of Holocaust denial and hate.
Zionism On The Web, a project that has now been running for 18 months, monitors the impact of hate and misinformation sites and provides resources to help the recently confused find their way back to reality. Perhaps more significantly, the project has also been monitoring how these sites end up at the top of the stack. The good news is that these rankings are a result of a small number of people and sites who form a very cohesive group. After all, if you want to link to other hate sites, there’s only so many (though this number keeps growing) to choose from. These websites also receive support from the far left anti-Zionists who often find what they want, not realising they are spreading the lies of the far right. Official propaganda from Arab states also plays it’s parts and is spread through numerous NGOs and political activist groups. Next time you see a long essay suddenly appear copy the first line into Google and see if you can find the source. Google after all favours these sites (due to the nature of it’s algorithm) and should find a match with ease.
It was a Google search for Zionism that first raised the alarm. Based on the results Google returned one would think that Zionism was an attempt to control the world, a form of racism and the modern version of apartheid all rolled into one. While Zionism On The Web is now itself on page one, we get many appeals from students wanting help with their projects or questioning but unable to prove that the standard “anti-Zionist” (usually antisemitic) arguments are false. Providing answers is one way to combat racism. Helping students find the answers themselves is even better.
Unlike the small closely linked radical groups, official community sites are often too self important to exchange links with each other, or Joe Blogger. The fact that Joe blogger with no resources gets a hundred times more people per day than these official sites simply does not register. This relegates very good references, that the community has often placed large amounts of money in, nearly invisible to the search engines. Policy may eventually change, mean time we have another solution.
To help combat racism and promote good material no matter how well the authors unintentionally hide it, Zionism On The Web have launch an Expert Search on Zionism and Israel. This is a search based on Google, but with manual intervention. Members of the project team can tag good resources and have them promoted higher up the list when people use the Expert Search rather than ordinary Google. Likewise antisemitic sites can be blocked outright. Those wanting that material are welcome to use Google itself to find it – just search for Jew.
The Expert Search can be used at:
The page explains how you can help by joining the project to tag positive sites and eliminate antisemitic ones. You can also help by adding a link to expert search on your website, blog or myspace. This not only shows commitment against the spread of racism through Google, it will also save others trawling through hate next time they need information on Jews, Israel or Zionism.
Andre Oboler is the Chief Executive of Zionism On The Web and a PhD Candidate in computing at Lancaster University, UK. Andre was a presenter on the topic of hate on the Internet at Limmud Oz in 2005 and has since then present the findings of Zionism On The Web to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, members of the WZO executive, the Jewish Agency and various national and international Jewish organisations across the globe. The website for Zionism On The Web can be seen at:http://www.zionismontheweb.org/