What do you know about CAMERA?
Since its founding, CAMERA has been noted for its pro-Israel media monitoring and advocacy. CAMERA releases reports to counter what it calls "inaccurate" and "skewed" "characterizations of Israel and of events in the Middle East".
The group mobilizes protests against what it describes as unfair media coverage by issuing full-page ads in newspapers, organizing demonstrations, and encouraging sponsors to withhold funds. Mitchell Kaidy, writing in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, criticized CAMERA's efforts to pressure university libraries to remove books that the organization finds offensive. Journalist and author Robert I. Friedman wrote in 1987 that "CAMERA, the A.D.L., AIPAC and the rest of the lobby don't want fairness, but bias in their favor. And they are prepared to use McCarthyite tactics, as well as the power and money of pro-Israel PACs, to get whatever Israel wants."
CAMERA has chapters in major US cities and Israel, including New York City, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and in 1988 a Boston chapter and headquarters. According to the organization's website, CAMERA’s membership grew from 1,000 in 1991 to 55,000 in 2007
In May 2008, five Wikipedia editors involved in a secret CAMERA campaign to edit Wikipedia 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".
CAMERA Israeli lobby campaign in WikipediaIn an April 2008 article, the pro-Palestinian advocacy site Electronic Intifada revealed the existence of a Google group set up by CAMERA. The stated purpose of the group was "help[ing] us keep Israel-related entries on Wikipedia from becoming tainted by anti-Israel editors". Electronic Intifada accused CAMERA of "orchestrating a secret, long-term campaign to infiltrate the popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia to rewrite Palestinian history, pass off crude propaganda as fact, and take over Wikipedia administrative structures to ensure these changes go either undetected or unchallenged".
A veteran Wikipedia editor, who according to Electronic Intifada, was "colluding with CAMERA, also provided advice to CAMERA volunteers on how they could disguise their agenda.". According to the Electronic Intifada website, an e-mail by one member of the Google group advised that "One or more of you who want to take this route should stay away from any Israel realted [sic] articles for one month until they [sic] interact in a positive way with 100 wikipedia [sic] editors who would be used later to vote you as an administrator." "There is no need to advertise the fact that we have these group discussions," another e-mail recommended. The veteran Wikipedia editor identified, in a 25 March email, another Wikipedia editor, whom he viewed as an effective and independent pro-Israel advocate. The veteran editor instructed CAMERA operatives to work with and learn from the editor perceived to be an effective and independent pro-Israel advocate. Excerpts of some of the e-mails were published in the July 2008 issue of Harper's Magazine under the title of ″Candid camera″. In April 2008, CAMERA's "Senior Research Analyst" Gilead Ini would not confirm that the messages were genuine but maintained that there was a CAMERA email campaign which adhered to Wikipedia's rules. In August 2008, Ini argued the excerpts published in Harper's Magazine were unrepresenative and that CAMERA had campaigned "toward encouraging people to learn about and edit the online encyclopedia for accuracy".
A group of Wikipedia administrators strongly believed an editor on Wikipedia to be Gilead Ini and blocked that user account indefinitely. In April 2008 Gilead refused to say whether he was behind the Gni account, and in May 2008 he denied that the account belonged to him.
Commenting on the incident, Gershom Gorenberg, of the liberal magazine The American Prospect, stated "CAMERA is ready to exempt itself from the demands for accuracy that it aims at the media. And like others engaged in the narrative wars, it does not understand the difference between advocacy and accuracy." Gorenberg criticized CAMERA for telling members not to share information about the campaign with media, and he also argued Ini's definition of accuracy "only means not printing anything embarrassing to his own side". David Shamah, of The Jerusalem Post, stated "the vast anti-Israel lobby that haters of our country have managed to pull together" hate it when groups like CAMERA mess up "their anti-Israel propaganda with (gasp!) facts".
Five editors involved in the 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".