Where would the Zionist movement be without Theodor Herzl and David Ben-Gurion? Where would the Hebrew language – a key force in cultivating Jewish national sentiment – be without the witty words of Sholem Aleichem or the army of neologisms forged by Eliezer Ben Yehuda? And where would the Jewish people be, of course, without ... Donald J. Trump?
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For less than a month, America’s 45th president was on Wikipedia's “List of Zionists,” highlighting the fluidity of truth on the online encyclopedia. At the beginning of 2018, an unknown user added Trump’s name to the list. Though the roster is limited to great leaders from early Zionist history, including former Israeli prime ministers Golda Meir and Menachem Begin, Trump was added without much debate or fanfare.
But on Sunday his name was deleted after being live for over three weeks and being viewed by almost a thousand people. Interestingly, this isn’t the first time people supporting the president’s pro-Israel credentials have tried to add him to the list of Zionist icons. Last July, Trump’s name first tried to break into the ranks of Ahad Ha’am, Zeev Jabotinsky and Berl Katznelson but was deleted less than 24 hours later.
The politically potent page has also seen other purported Zionist American leaders added to the team only to be cut down later.
In March 2009, for example, an unknown user added Joe Biden to the list. “Biden has admitted, on television, that although he isn’t Jewish, he is Zionist,” the user claimed. The use was able to supply a quote to support the statement, but Biden’s name was dropped three months later to save space for people like Abba Eban, Albert Einstein and even Max Brod.
Indeed, the list, which unlike most Wikipedia pages pertaining to Israel and the Palestinians isn’t locked to public editing, has seen its fair share of vandalism, with names like “Zombie Man” and “Joey Chandler” – likely a reference to characters from the TV show “Friends” – being added without explanation only to be swiftly deleted.
Indeed the list, which seems partial at best, also veered into the esoteric, including random examples of Israelis who have Wikipedia pages and are just assumed to be Zionists despite their distinctly unpolitical careers. Thus for example, Uzi Hitman, a singer-songwriter more known for his hit “I Was Born for Peace,” was included for a few months in 2015.
“This list is incomplete, and probably has one or two debatable names. I only erased Uzi Hitman, who was a modern recording artist, not a Zionist thinker as such,” explained the editor who decided to drop the musician from the list.
In the meantime, Jared Kushner, David Friedman and the evangelical Mike Pence are nowhere to be seen.