Note: Rabbi Jason Miller is traveling. Filling in is Daniel Sieradski, former Director of Digital Media for JTA News and founding publisher of the pioneering blog Jewschool, is a web strategist and designer serving the Jewish non-profit sector.
Believe it or not: Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and ‘King of the Jews," has had enough of right-wing smear emails.
In an interview last week with writer Jeanette Friedman (my mother, incidentally), Hoenlein discussed at length the destructiveness of such "ludicrous" emails, particularly those making spurious claims about the purported mal-intent of President Obama towards the Jewish state.
"I see lots of energy and time wasted when false allegations are made about Israel, about the U.S. and the relationship between them, as well as myriad other subjects that affect what people think and do," Hoenlein told Friedman. "Spending time responding to reactions to this disinformation interferes with our ability to respond to real challenges and concerns that we need to address."
Hoenlein cited several examples of such emails that have come across his desk and warned that it’s only bound to get worse as mid-term elections approach. He prescribes that the community "not allow itself to be dragged into the excesses of the political silly seasons."
He also mentioned that the Conference of Presidents is "working to establish mechanisms to obtain the correct information quickly from reliable sources and get it to our members."
Perhaps the best solution is a Jewish version of Snopes.com, the urban legend reference guide. Similar to J Street’s "Obama Smear Busters" initiative, but done by a less polarizing institution, the site could serve as a non-partisan repository of checked facts and counterbalances, just like The Annenberg Public Policy Center’s FactCheck.org or the Pulitzer Prize winning Politifact.com.
Such a resource would certainly prove invaluable, considering the volume of misinformation circulating in Jewish inboxes. In fact, it sounds like a perfect project for the Jewish Week. Get on it, Gary!
Honestly, though, here’s hoping someone gets to it by the fall, when the next flurry of falsehoods is sure to rear its ugly head.