German version of Google removes “Jewwatch”; U.S. won’t

April 17, 2004

The Google JewWatch saga gains national attention

CONTENTS

1. German Version of Google Removes "Jewwatch"
2. American Google has modified searches before, on behalf of the English town of Chester - but says it won't do so for "Jewwatch". Google's Explanation
3. New York Times article on RemoveJewWatch
4. Reuters article on RemoveJewWatch
5. Two other articles on RemoveJewWatch
6. Jewwatch and Time Warner [This provides details for those interested of Time Warner Telecom and others who make the JewWatch site possible.]
7. Summary of Dispatch of February 4, 2004, concerning Google News and Palestinian Terrorism

 



[Note by Tom Gross]

A campaign began in January to remove a highly anti-Semitic site (www.jewwatch.com) from Google, the world's biggest Internet search engine. This followed a revelation by the Cleveland Jewish News that if someone researching Jews types in the word "Jew," the very first of 1.75 million entries that appear directs people to this anti-Semitic site.

Google Inc. in San Francisco this week made clear it would not do so. However, as mentioned below, the German language version of Google has removed the site. (Although American Google claims its policy is not to modify search results, last year it agreed to modify its results in order to placate officials from the English town of Chester. American Google removed a page called "Chester's guide to molesting young girls" from its pages.)

In fact the Google search engine has been listing "Jewwatch.com" as the first- or second-ranked site for over three years now. Some organizations, such as the Anti-Defamation League, have come to Google's defense (see ADL website). Others, such as Senator Charles Schumer of New York has a different view and has sent Google a letter asking that it change its algorithm to make the site less prominent in its search results.

 

SOME OBSERVATIONS

For weeks now, every day, I have received several emails and queries about the subsequent Internet campaign and petition to have Google remove "Jewwatch" from its search engine (see www.removejewwatch.com and www.PetitionOnline.com/rjw23 -- which has now collected more than 50,000 signatures).

This email list is not meant for the promotion of petitions, protests, rallies or overt political messages, and I have consistently turned down requests by people in this respect. However, I have decided to write about the removejewwatch.com campaign, after weeks of being asked to do so by several subscribers to this list, because the campaign has now become a news item in its own right, gaining international interest with articles in the New York Times and Reuters among others (articles attached below.)

Personally, I am concerned that:

(1) These campaigns are a double edged-sword as they give enormous free publicity to such anti-Semitic sites.

(2) Whereas only the craziest conspiracy theorists would believe the contents of such overtly hateful websites, of much greater danger is the ongoing but much more subtle defamation propagated daily by major news outlets about the Jewish state. Journalists consistently misrepresent what Israel's international legal obligations are according to UN Resolutions such as 242, the Oslo Accords, the Road Map, and so on, to make it seem that Israel is in violation of these agreements when in fact it is not. This week, for example, even well-meaning people and sympathizers to Israel may have been taken in when major news outlets stated as a matter of fact the completely false idea that UN Resolutions such as 242 call on Israel to return to the 1967 borders, or to accept Palestinian refuges and their descendants into Israel. They do not. People are left with the notion that Israel is behaving in breach of its international obligations when it is not and therefore people backing Israeli policy (i.e. many Jews and others who have actually bothered looking at the facts rather than believing falsehoods presented by supposedly respectable and leading journalists, who have simply based their own reports on lies they have copied from the Reuters newswire and elsewhere) are somehow an obstacle to peace in the Middle East.

(3) Instead of writing about "Jewwatch" I personally think it would be more important for media such as the New York Times to cover the actual attempts to kill Jews. For example, the media barely covered the plot last week by Palestinian terrorists belonging to Yasser Arafat's Tanzim Fatah organization (paid for by the EU) to detonate a powerful suicide bomb belt contaminated with HIV-tainted blood, in order to infect with AIDS all those injured by the bomb and those coming into contact with them.

(4) Jewwatch is only the tip of the iceberg. Students or others looking to find out about Judaism on Internet search engines (and not just on Google) are offered the choices of hundreds of anti-Semitic and Holocaust revisionist Internet sites such as the "Jewish Controlled Press," "Jewish World Conspiracies," "Jewish Media Lies," and "Jewish Banking and Financial Manipulations." Under one of the categories alone, titled "6,000,000 Jews DID NOT DIE," there are dozens of links to articles dedicated to Holocaust revisionism.

By way of example of the crossover between lies about Israel and lies about the Holocaust, at the end of this email I attach a summary from one of my previous dispatches from February 4.

-- Tom Gross

 

GERMAN VERSION OF GOOGLE REMOVES "JEWWATCH"

A search for "Jew" on the German version of Google does not turn up JewWatch.com (although RemoveJewWatch.com is now near the top.)

A search of German Google for "Jewwatch.com" turns up the message: "Zur URL jewwatch.com wurden keine Informationen gefunden" ("no information was found about the URL jewwatch.com").

Germany has anti-hate-speech laws, of a kind not found in America.

If you look up Jew on German Google, you will find:

www.google.de/search?hl=de&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=jew&meta=

Jew - Wikipedia - [ Diese Seite übersetzen] Jew. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Jew is a term used to denote both followers of a religion and members of an ethnicity (adj. ... Who is a Jew? Jewish Law. ... en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jew - 71k - 14. Apr. 2004 - Im Cache - Ähnliche Seiten

 

AMERICAN GOOGLE HAS MODIFIED SEARCHES BEFORE - BUT WON'T DO SO THIS TIME: GOOGLE'S EXPLANATION

Google has posted an explanation of why searches for the word Jew turn up the virulently anti-Semitic site JewWatch.com as either the first or second result:

A site's ranking in Google's search results is automatically determined by computer algorithms using thousands of factors to calculate a page's relevance to a given query. Sometimes subtleties of language cause anomalies to appear that cannot be predicted. A search for "Jew" brings up one such unexpected result.

 


FULL ARTICLES

NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE

Google Says It Doesn't Plan to Change Search Results
By Laurie J. Flynn
New York Times (Technology section)
April 13, 2004

Google Inc., the leading Internet search engine, said Monday that it had no plans to alter its search results despite complaints that the first listing on a search for the word "Jew" directs people to an anti-Semitic Web site.

The dispute points to one of the most difficult challenges that has plagued Web search engines: what to do when the results of a search are offensive to some, but legal?

In this case, the first listed site on a search for "Jew" is "Jewwatch .com," which promotes itself as "Keeping a close watch on Jewish communities and organizations worldwide" and offering references to anti-Semitic research, documents and organizations.

A Web site calling itself "Remove JewWatch.com from the Google search engine!" is circulating a petition asking Google to remove the site from its listings. Google search results rely on a complex set of algorithms that ranks sites based on the number and quality of the links to them.

The company, which is based in Mountain View, Calif., said it had no plans to remove the site from the search results list because it trusts its automated program to rank Web sites accurately. The search engine has been listing "Jewwatch.com" as the first-ranked site for three years.

"We find this result offensive, but the objectivity of our ranking function prevents us from making any changes," said David Krane, a spokesman for Google, adding that an exception is made only in cases where a site is illegal. Mr. Krane said the company has, for example, removed sites from its rankings that promote pedophilia, which is illegal.

For example, until February 2003, a user searching for a guide to the English city of Chester would have been presented with "Chester's guide to molesting young girls" as the second entry. After officials from Chester complained, Google removed the site.

But offensive material is often a matter of opinion, not legality. Conduct a search on Google for "George W. Bush," for example, and the fifth and sixth sites are critical of the president.

Because Google's search results are determined in part by the number of links to a given page, as well as the number of times the search term appears near a link, even sites criticizing the "Jewwatch" site may be contributing to its high-ranking simply by linking to it. The top Google ranking for Jewwatch.com was discovered recently by a Google user, Steven Weinstock, who began the petition drive to force Google to remove the site from its listings.

In a letter posted on its Web site on March 30, the Anti-Defamation League explained that the ranking is "in no way a conscious choice by Google," but rather the result of an automated system.

"The longevity of ownership, the way articles are posted to it, the links to and from the site, and the structure of the site itself all increase the ranking of 'Jewwatch' within the Google formula," the letter said.

Over the years, some Web site developers have learned to manipulate the automated system by building links to make a site appear even more popular than it may be. And some commercial Web site developers have become quite adept at using this practice to raise the ranking of their businesses.

Danny Sullivan, editor of Search Engine Watch, a newsletter based in Darien, Conn., said Google was in a difficult position because it cannot be seen as treating material differently because it is offensive.

"Google would certainly come under fire if they were to choose to change it," Mr. Sullivan said.

 

REUTERS ARTICLE

Google Says Anti-Semitic Site Offends, But to Stay
By Lisa Baertlein
Reuters
April 13, 2004

Google Inc., under fire for refusing to exclude an anti-Semitic Web site from Internet search results, on Tuesday said it cannot deny users access because that would betray a vow to deliver unbiased information -- no matter how it detests the site's message.

The offending Web site, Jewwatch.com, shows up as the first search result when users type "Jew" into Google's popular Internet search engine.

The site, which says its mission is to keep "close watch on Jewish communities and organizations worldwide," includes links to numerous hate groups and other anti-Semitic information.

"I certainly am very offended by the site, but the objectivity of our rankings is one of our very important principles," Sergey Brin, who started Google with fellow Stanford University graduate student Larry Page in the late 1990s, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

"We don't let our personal views -- religious, political, ethical or otherwise -- affect our results," said Brin, who added that he is Jewish.

Several weeks ago, a New York-based real estate investor started an online petition urging Google to remove the site.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the petition -- at www.removejewwatch.com -- had collected more than 50,000 signatures.

Brin, who has received numerous e-mails from friends who oppose the site, said the decision to continue including it in search results is about maintaining editorial integrity at Google.com, where results are determined by complex computer algorithms. "We do not want to have people involved in showing the results for a query," Brin said.

JEWISH GROUP SUPPORTS GOOGLE

He added that most people searching for information about Jewish people or organizations use the term "Jewish" in their queries as opposed to "Jew," which is often used in an anti-Semitic context. A Google search using "Jewish" as a search term did not turn up hate sites in the top results.

Prior to the current flap, the key word "Jew" showed up in about one of every 10 million queries, Brin said.

"There are 100 times as many now," he said, mostly due to curiosity related to the controversy.

The Anti-Defamation League, which monitors hate groups and anti-Semitic activity, has come down on the side of Google.

"The ranking of Jewwatch and other hate sites is in no way due to a conscious choice by Google, but solely is a result of this automated system of ranking," the Anti-Defamation League said in a March 30 letter on its Web site.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York has a different view and has sent Google a letter asking that it change its algorithm to make the site less prominent in its search results, a spokesman for Schumer said.

In the past, Mountain View, California-based Google has removed sites dealing with illegal activity, such as pedophilia, or sites that "maliciously" attempt to manipulate search results.

 

TWO OTHER ARTICLES ON REMOVEJEWWATCH

Anti-Semitic 'Jew' site top of Google search
By Michael Mylrea
March 31, 2004

What is a Jew? Those hoping to find out from a Google search are in for an unpleasant surprise. The first of 1.75 million entries that appear when you type "Jew" into the search engine is an anti-Semitic site.

This discovery by a New York real-estate developer, among others, has sparked a cyberspace showdown, and a bid to alter the situation by a small band of Internet experts.

While surfing the Web from his New York home, real-estate investor Steven Weinstock was shocked to find Jew Watch, filled with propaganda similar to that used by the Nazis.

"At first I felt surprised, and then those feelings turned to shock," he said.

What upset him most is not that hatemongers might be publishing such lies, but that any person looking to find out about Judaism would be offered choices such as the "Jewish Controlled Press," "Jewish World Conspiracies," "Jewish Media Lies," and "Jewish Banking and Financial Manipulations." Under one of the categories, titled "Revisionists - 6,000,000 Jews DID NOT DIE," there are dozens of links to articles dedicated to Holocaust revisionism.

Weinstock has been working to get rid of the site. Last Saturday, he launched his own Web site, called Remove Jew Watch, containing a petition which received more than 3,000 signatures in its first 48 hours - 1,500 on Monday alone. He also wrote an e-mail to Google, demanding that it remove the site.

In an e-mail response, Google refused: "Unfortunately, no computer can assess the morality, tastefulness, or honesty of a site's content. Results are determined by computer algorithms using thousands of factors to calculate a page's relevance to a given query."

Emboldened by Google's refusal, Daniel Sieradski, editor of the Jew School, a site devoted to Jewish fringe culture, decided to take matters into his own hands. Using a method called Google bombing, which exploits a quirk in Google's algorithms, he hoped to raise another site to the No. 1 rank.

"I decided to issue a call to arms on my Web site," Sieradski said. "Within a week, my proposal caught the attention of other Jewish bloggers [keepers of Web-based diaries] in the US, Canada, and Israel."

Sieradski's efforts paid off. The Wikipedia encyclopedia listing for "Jew," which just a week ago held no rank on Google, rose to the fourth-highest entry. But Sieradski is still not satisfied.

"Our work is not yet done," he said. "We've got quite a way to go before we reach No. 1, and then start to push Jew Watch completely off the first page."

Jew Watch's founder, Frank Weltner, did not respond to enquiries from the The Jerusalem Post.

Jew Watch's description of itself is bland: "Archive of essays, articles, and on-line books about a perceived international Jewish conspiracy: Keeping a Close Watch on Jewish Communities & Organizations Worldwide."

Inside, a dozen or so articles suggest that Jews are living out The Protocols of The Elders of Zion - a forgery that has fueled Jewish persecution for more than a century.

Perversely, the site also has links to Jewish community and civil rights organizations such as B'nai B'rith, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, but lists them as "Jewish Hate Groups."

"If it means hating extremists, racists, and anti-Semites, then this title is well deserved," said Dr. Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem. "Not to fight against these groups increases their potential to poison the minds of millions."

There is an inherent danger when a hate site masquerades as an academic resource, said Brian Marcus of the civil-rights division of the Anti-Defamation League.

"One of our major concerns is that children unable to discern what is true will stumble onto these hate sites," he said. "There have been many cases where children unknowingly turn in school reports that contain anti-Semitic and racist remarks."

Stopping hate sites has been difficult, said Zuroff. "What is going on is really outrageous; they can get away with saying the worst things: lies, anti-Semitic, xenophobic, and racist remarks. And yet all of our efforts to date to get these sites off the Web have been unsuccessful because the First Amendment enables people to make racist and anti-Semitic remarks."

Another factor is that censorship laws in America focus on sexual content, said Lee Tein, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group dedicated to preserving on-line civil liberties.

"For American censors, sex has always been the big issue," said Tein. "The First Amendment tends to be understood as being especially protective of political speech, and that puts racist or hate speech in a different realm."

Education is the best form of defense, said Laura Kam Issacharoff, co-director of the Anti-Defamation League office in Jerusalem. "We have long been proponents of educating the American public about hatred on the Internet, though as representatives of a minority, we prefer to adhere to the democratic values opposed to censorship."

 

GOOGLE CAUGHT IN ANTI-SEMITISM FLAP

Google caught in anti-Semitism flap
By David Becker
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
April 7, 2004

Search site Google has been drawn into a controversy during the week of Passover over a search listing that directs viewers to an anti-Semitic site when they enter the keyword "Jew."

The dispute began several weeks ago, when Steven Weinstock, a New York real estate investor and former yeshiva student, did a Google search on "Jew." The first site returned was Jew Watch, a site filled with short articles focusing on alleged Jewish conspiracies and other anti-Semitic topics, with headings such as "Jewish Controlled Press" and "Jewish Mind Control Mechanisms." The administrator of Jew Watch did not respond to an e-mail message requesting comment.

Weinstock has launched an online petition, asking Google to remove the site from its index. He said if Google receives 50,000 requests to remove the site, it will comply. As of late Tuesday, the petition had about 2,800 signatures.

"Google is the No. 1 search site, and the fact that the first search result would yield an anti-Semitic site is all too common in a growing era of increased anti-Semitism," he wrote in his introduction to the petition.

The petition site appeared to have been hacked on Wednesday, however. Clicking on links to view or sign the petition brought up pages with pornographic images, plus the message, "This guestbook is for The most LAMEST petition ever."

Google spokesman David Krane said the company's search results are determined by a complex set of algorithms that measure factors such as how many sites link to a given page. The company can't and won't change the ranking for Jew Watch, regardless of how many signatures the petition attracts, he said.

"Google's search results are solely determined by computer algorithms that essentially reflect the popular opinion of the Web," he said. "Our search results are not manipulated by hand. We're not able to make any manual changes to the results."

Krane said the ranking for Jew Watch is largely based on changing vocabulary patterns. "Jew" has been used less and less in mainstream society since Word War II, replaced by less culturally loaded terms such as "Jewish person." Google searches for "Jewish," "Jewish person" and "Jewish people" are all topped by pro-Jewish sites, including a number of Jewish dating services.

That's still not good enough for another online organization, however, which has launched its own effort to push Jew Watch off Google via "Google bombing," a technique that exploits Google's search methodology of basing rankings on how many sites link to a given page. Daniel Sieradski, through his influential Web log Jewschool, is urging visitors to pepper any sites they control with links to the entry on "Jew" in online encyclopedia Wikipedia.

Numerous other Google-bombing campaigns, ranging from pranks to a serious attempt to raise awareness of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, have emerged, since Google began dominating the search market.

Krane said he wasn't familiar with the Jewschool campaign but that Google typically discourages such tactics to manipulate search results.

 

JEWWATCH AND TIME WARNER

[I attach this note forwarded to me by a major hate-watch organization.]

Petitions to Google may or may not have an effect. But Google is in any case only one of many search engines. Those wishing to have the site removed may be more effective if they write a letter to Time Warner. (See below)

Here is the owner of jewwatch.com

Weltner, Frank
cpotato1941@yahoo.com
6936 Bruno
St. Louis, MO 63139
314-644-2025
abuse@yahoo.com

hosted by:
Everyones Internet, Inc.
Randy Williams admin@ev1.net
Valarie Stinson admin2@ev1.net
abuse@ev1.net
2600 Southwest Freeway, Suite 500
Houston, TX 77098
1-713-400-5400

Which connects to the internet through:
Time Warner Telecom
abuse@twtelecom.net

and:
SAVVIS Communications Corporation
1 SAVVIS Parkway
Town and Country, MO 63017
1-888-638-6771
ipadmin@savvis.net abuse@savvis.net

and registered through:
networksolutions
abuse@networksolutions.com

 

DISPATCH OF FEBRUARY 4, 2004 [SUMMARY ONLY]

* Google News and 'Palestinian commandos'

[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach below a summary of a dispatch from HonestReporting.com concerning Google News, the portal which has recently become one of the most influential sources of world news.

SUMMARY

The Google search engine is now the most popular method in the world for finding information online, handling more than 200 million requests a day.

One of the websites that Google News consider a legitimate Mideast news source is "Jihad Unspun," whose articles appear prominently on searches for Israel-related topics on Google News.

Among articles from Jihad Unspun:

* "Zionist Intelligence Engineered Istanbul Blasts" (in reference to the recent suicide bombings at Istanbul synagogues)

* "Resistance Fighters Attack Zionist Vehicles" (i.e., terror attacks on Israeli civilian cars)

* "Zionist Chief of Staff Promises More Suffering for Palestinians"

* "Zionist Terrorist Forces Demolish More Palestinians Homes, Mosque"

* Other conspiracy theories presented on Jihad Unspun include the lie that 9/11 was a Zionist plot.

* All of Israel is referred to as "occupied territory" on Jihad Unspun and all Israelis are "settlers". For example, a report on the closing of the Sbarro pizzeria, site of a suicide bombing in western Jerusalem in August 2001, in which a number of Israeli children were murdered, reads:

"Owners of a Zionist restaurant in central occupied Jerusalem have failed to convince customers to frequent it anew. Clients deserted the 'Subaru' restaurant after a Palestinian commando blew himself up in it about three years ago, killing 17 settlers and wounding tens others."

* Jihad Unspun publishes the writings of the anti-Semite Edgar J. Steele, including an article with passages such as:

It wasn't Arabs who forged the Anne Frank "diary" - it was jews.
It wasn't Arabs who lied about gas chambers at Dachau and Auschwitz - it was jews.
It wasn't Arabs who demolished the World Trade Center - it was jews.
It wasn't Arabs who had Jesus Christ crucified - it was jews.

* The owner and publisher of Jihad Unspun is Khadija Abdul Qahaar, whose original name is Bev Kennedy. Ms Kennedy converted to Islam after 9/11.

[To write to Google News news-feedback@google.com, comments@google.com]


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.