What Hebrew Wikipedia Says About Israelis

We are preoccupied with Jews and wars, liberal arts are out, young women have it over older ones, and Hapoel lost again to Maccabi, according to the list of the 100 most popular entries in 2015.

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Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli.
Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli. Of the 100 popular Hebrew entries in 2015 only four are women, and she was in 59th place.Credit: Reuters

The Hebrew Wikipedia site is not an academic source of reference, but it is useful as a barometer for the mood among Israelis who want to search for information about what they consider to be important or interesting. This is particularly true when it comes to figuring out the priorities of the younger generation, when it wants to learn something about the world or simply prepare homework.

Among the many 2015 year-end summaries in all sorts of areas, there were also lists on the Internet of the 100 most popular entries in Wikipedia in the various languages. Here are six things we can learn about the Israeli public from the list of 100 top Hebrew entries:

The Israel public is preoccupied with itself. Almost all the people it finds interesting and important are Jews or Jewish Israelis, such as Yitzhak Rabin (2nd place), Maimonides (51), and Albert Einstein (34). Those who are not Jewish are men who conquered the world: Adolf Hitler (41) and Cristiano Ronaldo (64).

Topping the agenda is war; peace is apparently irrelevant. Wars have a prominent place on the list. Highest up is the most recent war (Operation Protective Edge; 14th place), followed by World War II (18), which overtook World War I (24). After Operation Protective Edge in 2014, Wiki's second-most-popular entry in the realm of Israeli wars is the 1967 Six-Day War (22), before the War of Independence (28) and the Yom Kippur War of 1973 (31). The army is important: The Israel Defense Forces ranks in 29th place, in terms of popularity. The Oslo Accords are in 83rd place, the Islamic State is 11th.

The liberal arts have all but defeated. On the list of 100 are five entries related to mathematics – one of them in the first 10: trigonometric identities (9). Others include circle (60); geometric progression (69), derivatives (76), and arithmetic progression (98). The periodical table is in 75th place. If we don’t taking into account the erotic novel “Fifty Shades of Grey” (94) and the Harry Potter books (86), then for Hebrew speakers the world of literature is gone with the wind. Haim Nahman Bialik remains almost alone (50), not all that far from Eliezer Ben Yehuda (37).

Women are important and interesting on condition that they are young, photogenic, Ashkenazi (of European origin) and smart – in that order. Of the 100 popular Hebrew entries in 2015 only four are women, all ranked in the middle of the second half of the list. Of the four, three are under the age of 40. First is Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (58); two are in the entertainment business: model Bar Refaeli (59) and actress Eliana Tidhar (77). If you’re a female politician it’s preferable to be young, pretty and right wing. The last woman, at the end of the list, is Golda Meir (100).

The Mizrahim (Jews of Middle Eastern and North African origin) defeated the Ashkenazim: The Morocco entry (54) beat the Holocaust (55). “Zaguri Empire” really is an empire (5) and Eyal Golan (66) overtook Arik Einstein (67). Hapoel lost again: Compared to Macabbi Tel Aviv in soccer (35) and basketball (62), the reds didn’t even make the top 100 entries.

The right continues to lead. Rabin is the only one who overtook Benjamin Netanyahu (3), who topped David Ben-Gurion (10). Menachem Begin (52) beats Isaac Herzog (53), Shimon Peres (90) and Golda. The film “Fast and Furious” (95) bypassed Zionist Union (96).

Dr. Sharon Geva teaches history at the Seminar Hakibbutzim Teachers College and at Tel Aviv University. Her students write entries in Wikipedia.