A lot of people feel Wikipedia can settle all disagreements because all we have to do is to appeal to facts and reason. A lot of these people also believe that Shakespeare couldn't possibly have written all that without a dictionary.

Lets take the Wiki entry on the Six-Day war which Wikipedia rightly claims was a 'decisive Israeli victory' (for the existence of Israel). Here's a snapshot of the sidebar.

This article would like us to believe that Israel fended off the entire Middle-East and then some (No mention of the second wave of Palestinian exodus which gets another article on Wikipedia) on its own. In fact, there is an entire section in the article claiming there was no Western backing and dismisses all talk of US and UK being involved as conspiracy theory. Methinks the patriotic war historian doth protest too much.

Such chauvinism exists all over Wikipedia. In the section on British rule in History of Bengal, the third paragraph begins,

India's most popular province (and one of the most active provinces in freedom fighting)...

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Where are the legion of 'citation needed' idiots when you need them?

I could stop here but lets go all the way in stirring the hornet's nest. Here's a long quote from Aijaz Ahmed's 'Islam, Islamisms & the West' where he recounts post-war sins of the empire in the Middle-East, the context to Israel's existence.

The West... has to account for three successive sins over a period of roughly half a century.

  • First, it helped Islamism flourish by recruiting it as a force against 'communism', which encompassed not only the broadly-based communist movements that had arisen among the Muslim peoples but also any regime which subscribed to economic nationalism against Western corporate capital. The Western left typically underestimates all that history as a minor episode in what it too calls 'the Cold War', a term it has borrowed from the imperialist vocabulary.
  • Second, by ensuring the overthrow of those secular regimes that were not communist (most of them were actually anti-communist) but which either tolerated communists (the Sukarno regime in Indonesia), or refused to align with the West (Sukarno again, but also Nasser in Egypt), or were even mildly nationalist in the economic domain (Mossadegh in Iran) – the West ensured the narrowing of the space for secular politics and therefore the emergence of varieties of Islamism, moderate as well as militant: Sadat, who succeeded Nasser and brought Egypt into the US-led camp, patronized the moderate wing of the Muslim Brothers but was gunned down by the armed ones who had broken with their parent organization, precisely on the question of Sadat's alliance with the US and what they regarded as a capitulation on the question of Israel.
  • Third, when Islamism became a powerful tendency in so many of those countries, the West played a cynical game of extreme pragmatism: continued support for regimes like the Saudi one; the organization of the jihad against Afghan communism, as if what developed there was just a 'Soviet invasion', with no domestic basis; support for the most autocratic regimes, such as that of Mubarak in Egypt, against the Islamicists, adding to their claim to be 'anti-imperialist'; displaying nothing but contempt for those Islamicists who had actively demonstrated their belief in electoral politics (in Algeria, in the Occupied Territories of Palestine, in Lebanon) and treating them as just 'terrorists'.

All this is then connected, in very condensed ways, with the question of Israel, its long-lasting occupation of Palestinian territories; its treatment of the subject populations; its turning of Gaza into a vast prison; its carving up of even the West Bank in such a way that roughly 40 per cent of the Occupied Territories are already annexed in one form or another; American support for and European collaboration in Israel's policies; and the Western-Israeli attempts to prop up their own friends in the Palestine Authority using brutal means, in opposition to a popular electoral mandate by the Palestinians in favour of Hamas. The wound is deep. A settler state was established, through what the Israeli scholar Ilan Pappe describes as a full blown ethnic cleansing, at precisely the time when much of Asia and Africa were being decolonized. This has been crowned by an occupation that has lasted for forty years and has involved not just a regime of periodic atrocities against the population under occupation, but also the flagrant flouting of international law. Islamicists just don't believe that Western law – the very law that the Western discourse regards as the very foundation of civilized existence – will ever give them justice.