It’s not every day that a Hollywood star gets guilt-tripped on Twitter for not visiting his Jewish family in Israel, but that’s exactly what happened to William Shatner this week - and it’s all Hebrew Wikipedia’s fault.
Shatner has never shied away from his Jewish roots. In fact, the Jewish Canadian Star Trek icon has been outspoken about his experiences with anti-Semitism, both as during his childhood, growing up in Montreal, and as a student at McGill University.
The actor who plays Captain James T. Kirk has even visited Israel in the past. That’s actually where his Jewish guilt problems began, because some people think he has relatives that he shunned.
This week, Shatner was slammed by one Israeli for allegedly turning his back on his Jewish identity. Their proof? Shatner had failed to visit his Jewish family when he was in Israel.
It said that I have family in Israel (not to my knowledge) & that when I visited Israel that I didn’t want to visit them. That was in response to the other one pushing her blog on anti-semitism. We all need to be outraged over something. if you don’t have anything- fabricate it! https://t.co/2aWFxAmKZG— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) January 8, 2019
There was just one problem - Shatner was not aware he has any relatives in Israel, and he tweeted as much. As Haaretz correspondent Allison Kaplan Sommer pointed out to him, the claim seemed to have originated in the Hebrew version of Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, in the article for Shatner himself, as well as that of Mordechai Shatner, a prominent Zionist politico and a signatory of Israel’s Declaration of Independence.
Mordechai Shatner’s article in Hebrew claimed that he was related to the captain of the USS Enterprise, but failed to supply a source for the claim.
After the brief kerfuffle was brought to the attention to Asaf Bartov, a prominent Israeli activist involved in various Wiki projects, the claim was deleted from the Hebrew articles of both Shatners.
“I would be inclined to believe Mr. Shatner about who is and isn’t family,” Bartov replied. “That said, I suppose there’s a possibility Mr. Shatner could discover a lost (deceased) relative. Are your Galician roots from Sniatyn?”