But wait…. there’s more

I am so utterly ashamed of the lack of ethical accountability on the part of my local Jewish Community newspaper, not to mention utterly frustrated by way in which one of its columnists has consistently used the paper as a forum to discredit the timeless and enduring values of Orthodox Judaism. 

It would seem that even though that columnist has been proven to be taking publicly accessible ideas and presenting them as his own, that all will be forgiven.  It seems that he will continue to be extended the mandate to publish his so called scholarly opinions in an attempt to continue to invalidate Orthodox Judaism.  This is a collective blight on the reputation of Perth Jewry.  As we asked before, is the community prepared to tolerate, and now knowingly sanction, ethical dishonesty? 

Do you enjoy reading the Did You Know Column?  If the answer is yes, then you may care to know that you don’t need to pay to read it.  You can pick it up for free on Wikipedia!

Given that two consecutive articles had been found that plaguarised material from Wikipedia, I searched back over the past two months to see just how endemic this abuse of journalistic privilege by the Did You Know column has been.  Whilst I easily found various sources for some other columns that had been used to “research” material from other websites that I also consider to be clear plaguarism, I only found one other article that was sourced in its entirety from a single Wikipedia page, being the column of 8 May 2009.

Allow me to further demonstrate.  This Did You Know column starts off by the author writing about his trip to Sydney, and reflecting on the book he was reading – “Primo Time” by Antony Sher. 

 In the third paragraph you can see commentary about Sir Antony Sher:

 “Sher and his partner, the director Gregory Doran, became one of the first gay couples to form a civil partnership in Britain.” 

Of course, if you go to Wikipedia and enter Antony Sher, it will tell you that:

 “In 2005, he and his partner, the director Gregory Doran with whom he frequently collaborates professionally, became one of the first gay couples to form a civil partnership in Britain.”

OK, that’s only one sentence.  A minor indiscretion, however it would have done no harm to link this to its source by noting that this fact was according to the Wikipedia commentary.

But then Ken Arkwright goes on to say “Sher’s book on Levi motivated me to immediately learn a little more about the life of this remarkable Italian Holocaust survivor”.  We then read one on a half columns of scholarly insight into the life of Primo Levi.  No doubt that all Maccabean readers, myself included, thought that this had been researched and written by Ken Arkwright.  Unfortunately not.  In fact from this point of the article, right through to the penultimate sentance of the article, every single sentence can be found on the Wikipedia site for Primo Levi.  You can see for yourself at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primo_levi

Once again, because the article is not referenced back to Wikipedia, and the author is claiming the article as his own intellectual creation, we are dealing with a clear case of plagiarism.  Once again, this is not from multiple online sources.  It’s all on the one page, a simple cut and paste hatchet job.

Maccabean Article:

Levi was born in 1919 in Turin, Italy, and he died in 1987, aged merely 67 years, in the same house where he had spent most of his life.  Levi was an industrial chemist and a prolific writer who wrote some fictional stories and poems under the pen name Damiano Malabalia.  Here are just a few milestones of Levi’s life.  His father, Cesare, and is mother Ester, also known as Rina, were given an apartment in Corso Re Umberto, Turin, for a wedding present.  Primo was born there and lived there his entire life. 

Wikipedia:

Primo Levi

Born: 31 July 1919,  Turin, Italy

Died: 11 April 1987 (aged 67), Turin, Italy

Pen name: Damiano Malabaila (used for some of his fictional works)

Occupation: Chemist, memoirist, short story writer, novelist, essayist, poet

Levi was born in Turin on 31 July 1919. His father Cesare worked for the manufacturing firm…Levi’s mother Ester, known to everyone as Rina, was well educated, having attended the Istituto Maria Letizia….. On their wedding day, Rina’s father, Cesare Luzzati, gave Rina the apartment at Corso Re Umberto where Primo Levi was to live for almost his entire life.

 

Maccabean Article:

His sister, Anna Maria, was born in 1921, and Primo and Anna were close friends throughout their lives.  Primo studied chemistry, and his thesis was on the subject of X-rays and electrostatic energy.  His degree certificate described him as “of the Jewish race”.  In 1941, he worked under a false name in asbestos mines where he had to devise a process to extract nickel from the asbestos spoils.  The nickel was required by Italy’s ally, Hitler Germany.  

Wikipedia

In 1921 Anna Maria, Levi’s sister was born; he was to remain close to her all of his life…… he graduated in the summer of 1941 with full marks and merit, having submitted additional theses on X Rays and Electrostatic Energy. His degree certificate bore the remark, “of Jewish race”…….. In December 1941 Levi was approached and clandestinely offered a job at an asbestos mine at San Vittore. The project he was given was to extract nickel from the mine spoil, a challenge he accepted with pleasure. It was not lost on Levi that should he be successful he would be aiding the German war effort, which was suffering nickel shortages in the production of armaments.[12] The job required Levi to work under a false name with false papers.

 

Maccabean Article

In September, 1943, Marshall Pietro Badoglio signed an Armstice between Italy and the Allies.  Benito Mussolini was rescued from imprisonment by this new Italian State by the Germans, who re-instated him as head of the Italian Socialist Republic that was still an ally of Germany. 

Wikipedia

In September 1943, after the new Italian government under Marshal Pietro Badoglio signed an armistice with the Allies, the former leader Benito Mussolini was rescued from imprisonment by the Germans and installed as head of the Italian Social Republic, a puppet state in German-occupied northern Italy.

 

Maccabean Article:

Subsequently, Primo lived under a false identity.  He was discovered and told that he would be shot as an Italian partisan. 

Wikipedia:

The job required Levi to work under a false name with false papers…. Completely untrained for such a venture, he and his companions were quickly arrested by the Fascist militia. When told he would be shot as an Italian partisan, he confessed to being Jewish.

 

Maccabean Article:

Levi spent eleven months in Auschwitz until the camp was liberated by the Russian Army.  He was lucky to fall ill with scarlet fever in January 1945, because this illness was the reason for him being left behind in the camp and thus surviving Auschwitz.  

Wikipedia:

On 21 February 1944, the inmates of the camp were transported to Auschwitz (his record number was 174 517) in twelve cramped cattle trucks. Levi spent eleven months there before the camp was liberated by the Red Army. Of the 650 Italian Jews in his shipment, Levi was one of only twenty who left the camps alive. The average life expectancy of a new entrant was three months……Shortly before the camp was liberated by the Red Army, he fell ill with scarlet fever and was placed in the camp’s sanatorium (camp hospital).

 

Maccabean Article:

He did not return to Turin until October 1945, after fighting his way back through Poland, Russia, Rumania, Hungary and Austria. 

Wikipedia:

Although liberated on 27 January 1945, Levi did not reach Turin until 19 October 1945. ….. His long railway journey home to Turin took him on a circuitous route from Poland, through Russia, Romania, Hungary, Austria and Germany.

 

Maccabean Article:

In 1946, Levi met Lucia Morpugo and he married her in 1947.  His book describing his experiences in Auschwitz “If this is a man” was published in October 1947.  Only a few of the 2,000 copies printed were sold.  Primo had two children, a daughter Lisa born 1948, and a son Renzo born in 1957.  Levi called Renzo after Leronzo Perrone who was one of his fellow prisoners in Auschwitz.

Wikipedia:

At a Jewish New Year party in 1946 he met Lucia Morpurgo who offered to teach him to dance. Levi fell in love with Lucia…..  In September 1947 Primo married Lucia and a month later on the 11th October If This is a Man was published with a print run of 2000 copies…..  In October 1948 Levi’s first child, his daughter Lisa, was born….. In July 1957 his son Renzo was born, almost certainly named after his saviour Lorenzo Perrone.

 

Maccabean Article:

Perrone risked his life by bringing Primo soup every day and without Lorenzo’s help Primo would not have survived the Camp.  Lorenzo was tormented by his memories of Auschwitz, and he resorted to drugs ending up living on the streets as an alcoholic.  Levi made many attempts to rescue his friend, but all was in vain.  Lorenzo died in 1952 as a result of insufficient care for himself. 

Wikipedia:

Lorenzo’s story is well told in If This is a Man. Without Lorenzo bringing Primo soup every day, at great personal risk, Levi would most likely not have survived the Lager. After the war Lorenzo could not cope with the memories of what he saw and descended into living rough and alcoholism. Levi made several trips to rescue his old friend from the streets, but in 1952 Lorenzo died as a result of the lack of self-care.

 

Maccabean Article:

In 1977, Primo retired from work to devote himself to full time writing, and he became an important literary figure in Italy.  His description of his train journey from Auschwitz back home to Turin became part of the curriculum in Italian schools.  The Soviet Union banned Primo’s books because they portrayed Soviet soldiers as human and disorderly, rather than as hero’s.  Israel did not find Levi’s books useful tools that fitted into the official story of the establishment of the State, and consequently his books were not translated into Hebrew until after he had died. 

Wikipedia:

Levi retired as a part-time consultant at the SIVA paint factory in 1977 to devote himself full-time to writing….. Levi became a major literary figure in Italy. The Truce became a set text in Italian schools. ….. In the Soviet Union his early works were not acceptable to censors because of their portrayal of Soviet soldiers as human and disorderly, rather than heroic. In Israel, a country formed partly by Jewish refugees who escaped horrors more or less the same as Levi experienced, Levi’s works were not translated until after his death.

 

Maccabean Article:

Levi wrote about his Holocaust experience in an intellectual almost scientific style, and like most Holocaust survivors he shows no lasting hatred against all Germans.  This fact has led some Jewish commentators to suggest that he had forgiven the Nazi’s, which Levi denied. 

Wikipedia:

Levi writes in clear almost scientific style about his experiences in Auschwitz, showing no lasting hatred of the Germans. This has led some commentators to suggest that he had forgiven them, though Levi denied this.

 

Maccabean Article:

Levie died in April 1987, by falling from the interior landing in his third story Turin apartment.  Eli Wiesel commented on Primo’s death: “Primo Levi died at Auschwitz already forty years earlier”. 

Wikipedia: 

Levi died on 11 April 1987, when he fell from the interior landing of his third-story apartment in Turin to the ground floor below. Elie Wiesel said at the time that “Primo Levi died at Auschwitz forty years earlier.”

 

Maccabean Article:

Levi’s death was subject to much controversy. Did he commit suicide because he suffered from depression?  Was it an accident?  If it was suicide, why did the industrial chemist use such a spectacular exit?  There is still no answer to this question.

Wikipedia:

However, Oxford sociologist Diego Gambetta has argued that the conventional assumption of Levi’s death by ‘suicide’ is not well justified by either factual or inferred evidence.[30] Levi left no suicide note, and no other clear indication that he had thoughts of taking his own life. In Gambetta’s view, documents and testimony indicate immediate and ongoing plans at the time of his death. Rita Levi Montalcini, a close friend of Levi, commented that “If Levi wanted to kill himself he, a chemical engineer by profession, would have known better ways than jumping into a narrow stairwell with the risk of remaining paralyzed.” Also, Gambetta has pointed out that Levi had complained to his physician of dizziness in the days before his death, and concludes (from a visit to the apartment complex) that it is more plausible to assume Levi lost his balance and fell accidentally to his death.[31] The matter remains unresolved.

 

Therefore within the space of two months, it is now evidenced that three of the Did You Know columns were plaguarised from the Wikipedia online encyclopedia.  Their source was not quoted, and the reader was left with the impression that these items were authored by Mr Ken Arkwright. 

I submit that the plaguarism of Wikipedia was not a one off occurrence or an innocent mistake.  It simply represents the dishonest use of material for dishonest purposes.