The Case for a Jewish Snopes
05/17/2010 - 09:18
Rabbi Jason Miller

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,  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 or the Pulitzer Prize winning

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.


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Comments depends on facts & is neutral Hoenlein is far from neutral & chooses to ignore the facts, as can be inferred from his comments. How anyone who claims to be a leader of Jews can ignore the snubs of Bibi & the mayor of Jerusalem, the virtual arms embargo on Israel while selling high tech weapons to those who make no secret of their plans to destroy Israel, Obama's telling the Arabs that the US does not recognize the legitimacy of Israeli "settlements" & will probably support UN resolutions against Israel, ad infinitum is beyond belief. How he can see all this & still think Mr Obama doesn't have an anti-Israel agenda proves he's living in Never Never Land & doesn't want to "grow up" & see reality. Or, worse....... He should resign.
Jewish Snopes? Hah! Who is going to decide what source is reliable? You have self-hating Jews like Chomsky and Finkelstein blindly repeating what they are told by Israel's enemies, cherry-picking which 'facts' they accept.
amazing: two anonymous posts that are precisely the kind of posts and emails Hoenlein describes as hurting the Jewish community. I guess anonymous is all about staying anonymous and doing as much damage as s/he can. sigh.
The opening paragraph of this article tells us what we need to know about the writer's attitude toward Mr. Hoenlein. Whether he is "King of the Jews" or wants to be or is deemed so by his "not-so-friends," he was deemed worthy of an interview by the writer's mother, after all. The writer (Mr. Sieradski) hasn't quite smeared Mr. Hoenlein, but I don't see evidence of "snopes-like" impartial reporting in his coverage here. As for the content and target of the "smears" to be debunked, Israel is prominently mentioned and then forgotten; J Street's "Obama Smear Busters" initiative then gets a prominent "shout out." Which targets will this proposal defend from smears most diligently? The question seems to be: who can be trusted to debunk the smears? When the building of housing in Jerusalem is elevated to a foreign policy crisis while the naming of a public area in Ramallah after a homicidal terrorist is ignored, shouldn't we be suspicious of the intentions of the current administration?
i hope this makes it to the printed pages of the Jewish Week. A must
This is a brilliant idea, and whichever newspaper does it first will garner a lot of traffic, respect and authority. Like Dan said, Go Gary go.
If someone had properly dispelled the myths spread by the 2008 Obama campaign, both Israel and the US would be better off now. However, these myths appealed to liberal Jews who failed to conduct their due diligence investigations of the candidate.