Notable alumni

Open University wants Google to remove terrorist as notable alumnus

Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar, who obtained a degree there while in an Israeli prison, shows up in Google's Knowledge Graph when one searches for the institution—to the consternation of the university and current students.

Searching for Israel's Open University on Google opens a sidebar with a row of pictures of notable alumni, such as bronze-medal Olympiad Yarden Gerbi and former MK Yael Dayan. Alongside them is an infamous alumnus, Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar, which the university has repeatedly sought to have removed by Google.



Sources in the university told Ynet on Wednesday that they had contacted Google several times asking them to change the list of notable alumni in their Knowledge Graph, but the search engine has declined their request, as Kuntar did indeed attain his bachelor's degree from the institution.


Kuntar with Hezbollah leader Nasrallah after being freed in the prisoner exchange swap in 2008 (Photo: AP) (Photo: AP)
Kuntar with Hezbollah leader Nasrallah after being freed in the prisoner exchange swap in 2008 (Photo: AP)


Then 16-year-old Kuntar carried out a terrorist attack in Nahariya in 1979 in which a father and two daughters were killed along with two police officers Kuntar and three other terrorists infiltrated Israel from Lebanon by sea and broke into the apartment of the Haran family, taking the father, Danny, and his four-year-old daughter, Einat, to the beach, where Kuntar shot Danny dead in the back and murdered Einat by smashing her skull with his rifle.


The mother, Smadar, was hiding at this time in the apartment with their two-year-old daughter, Yael. Trying to silence the child's cries to avoid detection, Smadar suffocated her own daughter. The two police officers were killed in an exchange of fire where two of the terrorists were also killed.


Samir Kuntar (bottom right) in Google's Knowledge Graph
Samir Kuntar (bottom right) in Google's Knowledge Graph


Kuntar was apprehended and sentenced to an Israeli prison from which he was released in an exchange in 2008 that returned the corpses of slain IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. In 2015, Arab media reported that the Israeli Air Force attacked a Damascus suburb and assassinated Kuntar. During his imprisonment, Kuntar obtained an undergraduate degree from the Open University.


A current student of the university said, "It's outrageous to see this. As a student at the university, I feel ashamed that they even agreed to allow such a despicable person with blood on his hands to study and get an education at an Israeli university, and further the fact that he appears amongst the notable alumni. This information is known; why does he also need to show up when people search? What pride does he give to the institution exactly? In my opinion, it should be immediately removed."


Google replied on the matter, "The information included in Google's Knowledge Graph comes from open and accessible sources of information, like Wikipedia, Freebase and others, and in addition we also take into account the searches that are done on Google on a subject. If there are inaccuracies in the information, one can inform Google by clicking on the link located in the Knowledge Bar box."


The Open University clarified that the Knowledge Graph information is not part of their website, "so sadly, we are unable to change it. Google's algorithm automatically selects whom to post, without any entity being able to influence or control it. According to a governmental decision, security prisoners no longer study at the Open University."


פרסום ראשון: 12.09.16, 10:29
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