(photo credit: Chen Galili)
The Rothschild tent city had possibly its most high profile celebrity visit yet on Sunday, when Jimmy Wales, co-founder of the online user-generated encyclopedia Wikipedia stopped by to soak up the atmosphere on the boulevard.
Speaking to residents and “tourists” at the tent city, Wales said “it’s wonderful that in the democracy here, people have the right to go out and express their opinion. I do not know if I agree with the protest or not, because I’m not familiar with the economic and the social situation in Israel, but the very fact that freedom of speech and discourse are free in Israel – is remarkable.”
Wales is in Israel for the seventh annual Wikimania conference, being
held this year in Haifa. The conference brings together hundreds of
Wikipedia fans, employees and editors, as well as internet bigwigs from
around the world. This year’s conference was met with some controversy
and calls for participants to boycott the event, due to it being held in
In Tel Aviv on Sunday though, Wales described the global exposure the
tent cities movement has achieved, largely, he said, due to Wikipedia.
“People around the world watch what is going here. In front of the
auditorium in Haifa, where we held the international conference of
Wikipedia, there were dozens of tents. And we didn’t need to explain to
the hundreds of foreign participants, what it is – they knew it from the
Internet and the already existing Wikipedia articles about this
The main English-language page on the tent cities protest runs more than
4,000 words and gives an extensive break down of the movement so far.