BDS is telling people that certain people (gaza, west bank) are being excluded or likely to be excluded from wikimania 
I'm pretty sure that's not going to be entirely true. I'd like to tell these BDS
people off for spreading FUD.
Even so, I'd better be sure I'm telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but
Is there anyone who currently wants to come to wikimania, but definitely won't be able
to come due to issues with permit/visa?
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I asked two people from the Ben Gurion University's Africa Center to attend Wikimania for as much as they can, in order to talk with
developers and other people involved in offline projects and "devnations" initiatives. These two students were part of the Israeli mission to
Santchou, Cameroon, earlier this year, and they had a lot of success with installing offline versions of the French Wikipedia there. I wrote
about it in Hebrew on wm-il's blog, and Amir sent an English self-translation to the Foundation's blog, I hope it would be published soon.
Anyway, one of these students is engaged in other volunteering projects throughout the summer, but this time in Israel, so he said that if he
would be in the vicinity of Haifa on 2-3 August he will come to talk with anyone who would like to hear about his experience. The other student
agreed to come on Friday to talk about their success story during the main event. She was unsure whether she could come on 2-3 August too
due to her working schedule (it ain't cheap being a student in this country...)
Anyway, I suggest anyone involved in the "devnations" initiatives be in or around the hall, where the talk about Africa is held, so we could gather
with her after the talk and ask some useful questions.
Just to clarify a few points -
1. The term Palestinian-Arabs refers to people who identify themselves as part of the Palestinian People, but they hold various nationalities. Many of them are Israeli citizens, so they can arrive at Haifa just as any other Israeli (and like other Israelis, they might register at the last moment, since they don't need accommodations). Those who live in East Jerusalem are not necessarily Israeli nationals, but they have free access to any place in Israel (they hold Israeli IDs, which are more-or-less like Green Cards in the US). Those living in Jordan and have Jordanian nationality should obtain visa from the Israeli embassy in Amman. Those who live in the West Bank and are under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority enter Israel with their Palestinian internal ID and a permit which the PA office obtain for them from the Israeli authorities (so they need to file the request at the local PA office). Many of them have a permanent permit - these are usually WB residents who work in Israel. The main problem is with residents of the Gaza Strip, due to the very delicate political situation there. It is possible to obtain permits for them too, but it requires some coordinations with the relevant authorities. I personally made some phone calls, and received detailed information about how to start the process, but unfortunately, I received no information about people from Gaza who actually filed requests to enter Israel for attending Wikimania.
2. Palestinians have good access to Internet. Currently, the Palestinian ISPs relies on the Israeli infrastructure, so it might seem as if they connect from Israel, though in many cases I saw Palestinian Territories as the designation of location for people connecting from the WB and Gaza. That said, Wikipedia is not very popular among Palestinians, as far as I can judge. Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects are extremely popular among Hebrew-speaking Israelis, but Arabic-speaking Israelis and Palestinians in the WB and Gaza are much more into writing blogs, posting comments in various Arabic-speaking web-forums etc. When I was interviewed in Arabic about Wikipedia, the Palestinian person who was interviewed with me was not a Wikipedian, but rather the head of a Palestinian bloggers' union.
3. I talked with some Egyptians who considered coming to Haifa. It wouldn't be fair to reveal information given to me in private conversations, but I can say that the current situation in Egypt poses unexpected difficulties to Egyptians who wish to visit Israel. The Israeli embassy in Cairo and the consulate in Alexandria work normally, and visa procedures have not changed, and yet being listed as someone who crossed the border to Israel is something many of those I've talked with prefer to avoid at the current state of affairs. I'm afraid this is beyond the control of any of us, and it is an unexpected development of the past five months or so.
Two related points about this issue -
When Wikimania was held in Alexandria, Egypt, a Palestinian from either the WB or Gaza (I can't remember exactly) was denied visa by the Egyptian authorities. I know that because I talked with him through IRC after the event (though I lost contact with him, and I don't remember the exact details anymore). When Wikimania was in Taipei, an Egyptian Wikipedian asked me to help him get a visa from the Taiwanese representations in either Tel Aviv or Amman, but unfortunately they demanded personal attendance, and this person was unable to reach either of these cities. I'm afraid technical and political issues are always going to be, to some extent, an obstacle to international events, as much as we try to work around them.
Israel is the only country to which Palestinian residents of the WB and Gaza can enter without a passport, and since a Palestinian passport is not widely recognized as a travel document, it is much easier for them to access places in Israel. For example, in case of serious health problems, an Israeli hospital is always the first option for these people, because it is more accessible than any other medical facility outside the Palestinian Territories. So basically, unless we hold Wikimania in Ramallah or Gaza City, Haifa is one of the best options for Palestinians. It is regrettable that not many seized the opportunity.
About filtering Wikipedia or any other website in the Gaza Strip - Gaza doesn't have its own telecommunication infrastructure. Even though the Palestinian Authority has reserved its own international dialing prefix (+970), and its own TLD (.ps), in practice, the telecommunication infrastructure is operated from Israel (the +972 zone). There are special numbers and dialing codes reserved for the use of the Palestinian Territories, and as far as I know, this applies for the Internet access too. I don't know if it is possible technically to intervene in the transmission of information, while the "hub" is beyond your territory, especially as Hamas has no official status. For these purposes, it communicates with the world through the PA, if and when it is willing to do the service (they cooperate if it's for the benefit of the local Gazan residents). Anyway, that's the best account I can offer about this unusual situation.
>From the brighter side: it is confirmed that no Palestinian will have
problems with visa.
On Jun 28, 2011 10:05 PM, "Kim Bruning" <kim(a)bruning.xs4all.nl> wrote:
On Tue, Jun 28, 2011 at 10:46:38PM +0300, Amir E. Aharoni wrote:
> 2011/6/28 Kim Bruning <kim@brunin...
> Except doing our best to help the Palestinians who actually register
> to get the needed permits a...
So far, there are 0 Palestinians definitely coming ?
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Wikimania-l mailing list
on *tuesday, 2011-08-02*, withing the *wikimania preconference *program,
there will be a *global south strategy workshop*. the topics worked on
should be in *three areas*:
* (1) contents
* just to give ideas, topics may include (rare) languages, citing
references in oral cultures, which wikimedia projects work
* (2) organizational development
* the discussion here might center around crowdsourcing in such
environments, which parties to involve first, a comparison how other
next generation internet companies like facebook gain users, etc.
* (3) access, which is the technical / developer part
* topics include software needs to better support wikimedia projects
given the connectivity restrictions which may exist, especially mobile
and offline solutions, software supporting distributing contents via
mesh networks, etc. depending on the preferences and number of
participants this part will be in conjunction with the wikimedia
offline developers workshop,
feel free to register here:
we would be glad if you could add topics of special interest to be
discussed as well.
I would like to point your attention to the fact that we published a first
detailed draft of the program for Wikimania 2011:
Of course it's not final, and there will quite a few changes down the road.
(As for the chapters mini conference, I'm going to suggest some draft plan
for that soon).
Yes, we know it's horribly crowded, but we had so many good submissions that
even after merging them together and doing all sorts of other creative
stuff, it still came out crowded! Yay for brevity and conciseness in
* If you submitted a presentation and you see that you cannot deliver it at
the planned time (or at all), let us know ASAP.
* If you submitted a presentation but it seems that you're not on the
schedule, but are still attending Wikimania and are eager to present, let us
know and we'll see what can be done. Maybe we'll do a late night conference
* If you spot some horrible inconsistency or thematic mismatch (talks are
organized by topic) or overlap or time clash or any other schedule accident,
let us know ASAP.
* If you have any convincing ideas on how to improve the schedule further,
let us know.
Thanks to the international program committee for helping us review and
score the submissions, and special thanks to Deror Avi who actually tried to
squeeze it all together.
See you all in Haifa soon!
(summer 2011 is thankfully proving in the meantime to be much much more
comfortable than summer 2010)
Wikimania 2011 program chair
Wikimania is approaching and by that also our first developers meeting
The openZIM team is happy to invite you to the first (really)
multinational developers meeting. After three meetings in the center of
Europe with mostly people from that area participating we are now going
to meet at Wikimania.
Prior to Wikimania are special conferences. The openZIM meeting is on
August 2nd and 3rd - the two days right before Wikimania starts - at
Beit Hecht, part of the Wikimania venue.
Please sign up here and participate in the planning:
For dedicated offline people there is still budget left so we can help
you funding your participation at this meeting! Contact me for this.
I'd be happy to see you there!
Wikimedia CH - Verein zur Förderung Freien Wissens
Wikimedia CH - Association for the advancement of free knowledge