Type of site
|Online news publication|
|Created by||Ali Abunimah and Arjan El Fassed|
The Electronic Intifada (EI) is an online Chicago-based publication covering the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. It describes itself as not-for-profit and independent, providing a Palestinian perspective on the conflict. EI was founded by Ali Abunimah, the Palestinian-American son of Jordan's UN ambassador, and Arjan El Fassed, a former Dutch politician.
EI was founded in February 2001 by Ali Abunimah, an American citizen of Palestinian descent; Arjan El Fassed, human rights activist based in the Netherlands; Laurie King, an anthropologist and former coordinator of the International Campaign for Justice for the Victims of Sabra and Shatila and the managing editor of the Journal of Palestine Studies in Washington; and Nigel Parry, currently an eclectic Internet consultant, writer and musician based in Pittsburgh.
According to their website, The Electronic Intifada is mainly funded by its readers with additional funds provided by private foundations. It does not receive funds from any governments or political parties. In 2010 it received US$130,000 in donations from individuals and US$83,000 from private foundations.
In April 2008, The Electronic Intifada released an article that documented e-mails sent between members of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA). The stated purpose of the group was "help[ing] us keep Israel-related entries on Wikipedia from becoming tainted by anti-Israel editors". Five Wikipedia editors involved in a CAMERA campaign were sanctioned by Wikipedia administrators, who wrote that the project's open nature "is fundamentally incompatible with the creation of a private group to surreptitiously coordinate editing by ideologically like-minded individuals".
Hannah Brown of The Jerusalem Post calls EI "one of the most elaborate" sites of those that give a "Palestinian perspective of the news", going on to describe EI as "very professional, user-friendly and well written," and added that it "is adorned by photos, such as a picture of a lone, small Palestinian boy aiming a stone at an Israeli tank."
Gil Sedan, a Jewish Telegraphic Agency reporter, described EI as a "cyberpropaganda" site which "may contribute to a better understanding of the Palestinian cause," but also said that it "is too biased to be of much use to mainstream publications."
Political journalist and editor of the online newsletter CounterPunch Alexander Cockburn stated "there are a number of excellent news outlets for those who want unjaundiced reporting. ... The Electronic Intifada ... is trusted."
NRC Handelsblad, a Dutch major mainstream newspaper, recommended The Electronic Intifada to its readers in 2006 at the height of the war on Lebanon. NRC wrote, "The Electronic Intifada (EI), a news site in English, reports from a Palestinian perspective, but as impartial as possible. EI is often faster than the established media."
In 2010, NGO Monitor criticized the Dutch Interchurch Organisation for Development Cooperation (ICCO) for providing financial support to The Electronic Intifada, which it claimed were antisemitic and compared Israeli policies with those of the Nazi regime. Gerald M. Steinberg, head of the pro-Israel NGO Monitor, described The Electronic Intifada as "an explicitly pro-Palestinian political and ideological Web site" that hosts "anti-Israel propaganda." Marinus Verweij, chairman of ICCO’s executive board said "The EI reports frequently about the violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by the State of Israel. In no way is the EI anti-Israel or anti-Semitic." He described The Electronic Intifada as "an important source of information from the occupied Palestinian territories" frequently used by newspapers such as The Washington Post and the Financial Times. Dutch Foreign Ministry spokesman Ward Bezemer stated that whether ICCO had promoted anti-semitism, a criminal offence, is to be determined by the Public Prosecutor on the basis of Dutch law. On 26 November 2010, Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal, who is Jewish and has an Israeli wife, said: "I will look into the matter personally. If it appears that the government subsidized NGO ICCO does fund The Electronic Intifada, it will have a serious problem with me." Rosenthal later told IKON radio that "anti-semitism is not the issue" but "my concern about calls to contribute to boycotts and embargoes".
The Electronic Intifada responded to NGO Monitor's statements regarding ICCO's financial support. The Electronic Intifada wrote: "NGO Monitor is an extreme right-wing group with close ties to the Israeli government, military, West Bank settlers, a man convicted of misleading the US Congress, and to notoriously Islamophobic individuals and organizations in the United States." EI co-founder MP Arjan El-Fassed, who also wrote for the website Al-Awda, told major Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant that the fuss created by NGO Monitor was related to one quote from an interview with the Jewish Holocaust survivor and anti-Zionist Hajo Meyer in June 2009. Meyer told EI: 'I can write up an endless list of similarities between Nazi Germany and Israel.' In the same article, the Director of the Centre for Information and Documentation Israel (CIDI), Ronnie Naftaniel, asserted that The Electronic Intifada is not an anti-Semitic website. He did, however, state that, while everybody should be free to express their opinion, the Dutch government should not indirectly fund a website that regularly calls for a boycott of Israel.
On 14 January 2011, ICCO decided not change its policy after a discussion held with the Dutch foreign minister. In response to ICCO's decision, The Jerusalem Post reports that Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal "will monitor ICCO’s activities. He will consider this as a minus when he makes up the balance when ICCO applies again in new a subsidies-round," as said by Ward Bezemer, a spokesman for Rosenthal." Partos, a national umbrella for more than a hundred Dutch civil society organizations in the international development cooperation sector, strongly condemned Rosenthal's threats to ICCO's funding. "Rosenthal's position vis-à-vis ICCO creates a dangerous precedent for the future. Development organisations will have to continue to fight for an independent voice in the debate. Partos will ... [fight] for that." In April 2011, Professor of International Cooperation Studies Paul Hoebink argued that Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal has no say in Dutch government funding to ICCO because Minister Ben Knapen holds the portfolio. In addition, ICCO's contribution to The Electronic Intifada is paid with ICCO's own funds. Professor of International Law and Dutch politicians for the Labour Party, Nico Schrijver considered Rosenthal's threat to cut government funding if ICCO continues its financial support to The Electronic Intifada as very worrying.
In what was probably not a very smart idea, Gilead Ini, a senior research analyst for CAMERA, put out an e-mail call for 10 volunteers "to help us keep Israel-related entries on Wikipedia from becoming tainted by anti-Israel editors." [...] More than 50 sympathizers answered the call, and Ini put his campaign into motion.
In follow-up e-mails to his recruits, Ini emphasized the secrecy of the campaign: "There is no need to advertise the fact that we have these group discussions," he wrote. "Anti-Israel editors will seize on anything to try to discredit people who attempt to challenge their problematic assertions, and will be all too happy to pretend, and announce, that a 'Zionist' cabal . . . is trying to hijack Wikipedia."
[...] Someone leaked four weeks' worth of communications from within Ini's organization, and the quotes weren't pretty. Describing the Wiki-campaign, a member of Ini's corps writes: "We will go to war after we have built an army, equipped [sic] it, trained." There is also some back-and-forth about the need to become Wikipedia administrators, to better influence the encyclopedia's articles.