Jewish Journal


March 24, 2008

Ring ring! Cluephone for Olmert’s diaspora task force


An Israeli government task force headed by Cabinet Secretary Oved Yehezkel is looking at new paradigms in Israel-Diaspora relations.

One plan floated at a recent meeting, according to Haaretz, is for a government-funded central Web site meant to serve as a worldwide Jewish portal.  This is exactly wrong.

Thankfully, not everyone at the meeting drank the koolaid.

“There’s no chance that this project gets off the ground,” said one of the participants in the meeting who wished to remain anonymous. “This idea is too pretentious and it goes against the entire nature of the internet. If this will be a site devoted to government hasbara, people will treat it as such and it won’t be popular. If this will be a site that provides surfers with the freedom to exchange opinions and publish material, there will be a lot of things that the government and the Jewish organizations won’t be able to live with, and they will need to use a censor.”

Anonymous knows the Web, or at least reads this blog.

  Such policy needs to be changed. Websites funded with taxpayer or community money not only have a responsibility to provide decent resources but also a responsibility to link to, share resources with, and assist others. They must become the hubs of the virtual community, and regardless of their real-world importance, online they must re-earn their credentials though cooperation with the community. A new initiative in policy planning for the Jewish community is needed.

The only unified approach that can possibly work is sharing resources, sharing servers, sharing admins, etc., like a little hasbara community garden, where people could grow their own sites, without top-down supervision.

The strength of the Internet is its two-way nature; it’s a read/write medium.  As I’ve said before, it’s the uploads, stupid.

But listen to another task force member quoted in the article:

Moti Friedman, the director of the Herzl Museum who also developed Web sites for the Jewish Agency and was one of the officials who sat in on the meeting, said he believes the project is practical.

“It fulfills a need that is there,” Friedman said. “People want a place on the internet that they can interact with Jews from around the world and where they can find “high quality” work by Jewish artists, instantly. [They want a] place where it would be possible to read articles by A.B. Yehoshua, Elie Wiesel, and Bernard-Henri Levy.”

I don’t know the color of the sky on Moti’s planet, but here on Terra (we like to call it olam hazeh), where the sky is blue, his idea of what readers want bears little relation to reality, and I have the logs to prove it.

—The Web Guy

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