Thanks for bringing this up - although I think this belongs on wikimania-l
and not necessarily here.
I believe we'll be posting a FAQ dedicated to these issues quite soon on our
, as this matter has been brought
up a number of times already.
I'll try to sum it up quickly for now:
* We will be delighted to have as high a participation as possible from the
entire Middle East. This is really, really important to us, more than
everything else. You can visit our website and see that most of it has
already been translated into Arabic.
* Unfortunately, ME politics is often plagued by tactics such as banning and
boycotting. No matter how good our intentions, I'm sorry to say there will
be people there who will still abstain from coming to the conference for
their own reasons, and there's not too much we can do about it. If someone
doesn't want to come to Israel, well, then, we can only express our regret
at his choice (which we think is misinformed). I wish they could all come
here and change their minds about Israeli reality.
* Wikimedia is not about politics, Wikimedia Israel doesn't represent the
Israeli government (or any other political entity), and we're trying to
focus this on free knowledge and a way for people to meet and interact, not
* Wikimania 2011 will be held in Haifa, a city which is home to both Jews
and Arabs. We'll be promoting it (also) using bilingual posters and
brochures, and will try to reach the very large population of Israeli-Arab
students in Haifa's academic institutions.
* Israeli Arabs can (of course!!) reach the conference like any other
Israeli - they just need to get to the venue, on foot, by car, by train or
* Palestinians living in the West Bank enter Israel by the thousands every
day. Yes, they need a permit for that. Obtaining that permit is a routine
operation. Yes, some difficulties might come up there, we'll use our
contacts within Israeli authorities to try to facilitate this as much as
possible, including issuing letters of invitation and contacting the
authorities well in advance. In fact, Israel might be one of the easier
destination for Palestinians to reach.
* Palestinians living in Gaza will have a harder time entering Israel. We're
looking at various possibilities to make this possible, should there be any
real demand for this. One possibility is for them to enter Egypt via the
border crossing in Rafah (which Egypt usually closes) and to reach Israel
* Having said that, we know of *no* Palestinian (or Israeli-Arab)
Wikimedians, despite repeated attempts over the years to locate some. If
someone knows any, please let us know!
* Citizens of other countries can fly into Israel or enter Israel through
the open border crossings with Jordan and Egypt. Israel of course recognizes
the passports of countries with which it has diplomatic relations, even only
partial relations, such as Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco, Algiers and
others. Please refer to http://wikimania2011.wikimedia.org/wiki/Visas
* For some countries which do not recognize Israel like Syria, Iraq, Iran
and Saudi Arabia, entry will be more difficult, but there have been sporadic
entries from these countries in the past, and should any participant from
these countries wish to attend Wikimania, we will do our utmost to assist.
We have a letter of support from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
and exceptions can always be made at border crossings if approved from
I'd be happy to keep this discussion constructive and not let it deteriorate
into a flame war.
Of course if anyone has further questions, we'll be happy to answer them.
Wikimania 2011 team