Wikipedia co-founder Wales visits Rothschild tent city

Jimmy Wales says “it’s wonderful that in the democracy here, people have the right to go out and express their opinion."

August 8, 2011 03:25
1 minute read.
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales

Jimmy Wales_311. (photo credit: Chen Galili)


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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.”

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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 Israel.

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 protest.”

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.

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