On Hebrew Wikipedia, Pro-settler Figure and New Habayit Hayehudi MK Orit Strock Is a Human Rights Activist

Editors debated at length how to describe the Hebron woman who founded the Human Rights Organization of Judea and Samaria and thinks Israeli soldiers are too soft on Palestinians.

The editors of the Hebrew edition of Wikipedia have decided to describe the pre-legislative career of freshman Knesset member Orit Strock (Habyit Hayehudi) as "human rights activist" on her article page.

The decision, which was reported in the Maariv Hebrew daily, followed extensive discussion on the article's talk page among the entry's editors. In the February 23 vote, 28 editors were for and 23 were against the decision.

Strock, 52, a leading figure in Hebron's Jewish community, is the founding chairwoman of the Human Rights Organization of Judea and Samaria and is the head of the political-legal Department of the Jewish Community of Chevron. Strock has 11 children and 12 grandchildren.

The characterization of Strock as a human rights activist set off a long-running controversy on the talk page of her Hebrew Wikipedia entry, mainly around whether the description was accurate in light of the fact that her organization focuses exclusively on the rights of Jewish settlers in the West Bank.

Defenders of the decision cited Strock's "enviable success" in addressing the issue of police brutality.

Opponents argued, among other things, that anyone who supported the use of aggressive force could not be called a human rights activist.

This argument was based on comments by a former head of the Civil Administration in the West Bank, Brig. Gen. Dov Zedaka, to "Makor," Channel 10 television's investigative program, according to which Strock had criticized an Israel Defense Forces battalion operating in Hebron for being insufficiently tough toward Palestinians.

Zedaka said that in an evaluation of the performance of the IDF's Hebron Brigade Strock said since only a small number of complaints were filed against the battalion by Palestinians, "presumably the battalion is acting with too much humanitarianism," and added, "When the complaints from the Palestinian side about aggressiveness are more numerous it is a sign that the battalion is very good, it is active and it imposes order."

Responding to questions from one of the Wikipedia editors in the course of the debate over her page, Strock argued that her quote was misused, explaining: "We are often required to strike a balance among various contradictory human rights and have no choice but to violate certain rights in order to protect ones, when the right to living in security overrides other constitutional rights," she said, adding that in rulings Israel's High Court of Justice has upheld this approach.

Strock said she disagreed with the assumption of some of the editors that the human rights situation of Jews in the West Bank was better than that of Palestinians.

"The Arabs in Judea and Samaria are defined by the High Court of Justice as a protected population, unlike the Jews" living there, Strock said.

"The rights of the protected population are infringed only for essential security needs, and with strict proportionality," Strock said, adding, "The basic rights of the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria are systematically violated and trampled on by the authorities."

Strock also rejected the claim that she only acts to defend the rights of settlers. She said she worked to defend the rights of people who were neglected by other human rights organizations, such as settlers but also "Arabs who were sentenced to death solely because they were suspected of selling land to Jews."

Itzik Edri Spokesperson and Chairman of the Wikimedia Foundation, Who operates the online encyclopedia, told Haaretz that the community decides on its content democratically and the foundation does not interfere in decisions about content.

Emil Salman