Central to the job of editing the op-ed page is rejecting op-eds. Some are easy to reject due to being incomprehensible, ridiculously long or for some other reason. But there are others that are interesting, deserving of consideration, and yet do not make it. Most interesting are the ones that are based on false information where the author may be unaware even that he is repeating some canard. For instance this week a former UN employee submitted an op-ed that claimed, among other things, that the conflict with the Palestinians could be solved by Israelis immigrating to the United States since “most Israelis have US passports.” Most? When confronted with this odd claim the author maintained that he had read that many Israelis are dual citizens and that “Israelis are flocking to foreign consulates in light of the Iranian threat.” The latter information was partly accurate, some Israelis have attempted to obtain EU passports, but why would anyone believe that most Israelis have US passports?
Another odd item that came across the desk this week was a claim by someone from Israel’s Institute of National Security Studies that a new US intelligence agency document was planning for a “post-Israel” Middle East. The report was being spread around to some important Israeli officials and was gaining traction among university academics and others who took it seriously. This was concrete evidence that Israel’s policies in the territories were going to ruin the US relationship. Shocking. But when I checked online for supporting information it turned out no credible news organization had picked up the story. Every report was by a man named Franklin Lamb and it was being reported by the Iranian media. Suspicious, I emailed Mr. Lamb who claimed he would get back to me. But when one read what the document supposedly said it should have been immediately obvious it was a fake. “This includes supporting more than 60 ‘front organizations’ and approximately 7,500 US officials who do Israel’s bidding and seek to dominate and intimidate the media and agencies of the US government which should no longer be condoned.” How and why had intelligent Israelis, many with PhDs and years of military experience been taken in by an obvious canard? Why did they pass on anti-semitic nonsense about “front organizations” and a McCarthyistic statement about exactly “7,500” officials who do Israel’s bidding? We will never know, but what is known is that the readers of the Post’s Oped page were not treated to a repetition of the nonsense.
What the Oped pages did cover was several controversial issues. One was by David Altman of Netanya Academic College who attacked Europe for complacency in not confronting the Islamist threat that he sees coming from Islamic immigration to the continent. Some thought this was an inflammatory view, but it is one that other academics and pundits have discussed for a while. On another side of the coin the EU has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. David Newman, our columnist, wrote a supportive column congratulating the continent.
Another issue that got traction this week was the right of Jews to pray on the Temple Mount. The Israel police, hoping to prevent violence have not only forbidden Jews from praying on the Temple Mount but have also prevented Jewish women from singing in the women’s section of the Kotel (because of Orthodox Jewish objections). Daniel Tauber wrote an op-ed noting that Israel “dares not confront those making a threat of violence.” Michael Freund approached the issue from a different direction, arguing a pragmatic solution would be to build a designated Jewish prayer area on the mount, which is Judaism’s most holy site.
This week also saw the 100 year anniversary of Hadassah, a Zionist women’s organization. Columnist Gil Troy highlighted the importance of this movement in Israel’s history, while Murray Greenfield shared a very personal story of his first interaction with Hadassah; behind barbed wire at a detention camp in Atlit in 1947. For those interested the camp is a national park today and one can visit it.
In one of the most interesting op-eds this week Zev Golan of the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies highlighted the 400,000 businesses in Israel and how the new Knesset that is elected should embrace and economic agenda to help them thrive. He highlighted how the government represents one of the growing sectors in the economy, to the people’s detriment. “The government needs to reverse its law linking property tax hikes to municipal salaries, which encourages outlandish salaries.” MK Faina Kirschenbaum presented her arguments that all Israelis should be equal under the law. “Every Israeli citizen should be treated the same; just as every holder of an Israeli blue ID card receives the same rights and benefits, so we should all have the same obligations.” That this is not an obvious statement is testament to the compromises the state has made over the years.
Other op-eds this week highlighted Irish funding for NGOs and the candidacy of Mitt Romney. Carmel Tanaka, an English speaking immigrant, wrote a powerful op-ed highlighting how bullying and ill-treatment of foreigners does great harm to the good nature of those who make Aliyah. Returning to the Romney op-ed, we are reminded that Romney and US President Barack Obama face off in a foreign policy debate this coming week. That will be the last debate before the election, which is less than a month away. As foreign policy particularly affects Israel one hopes that people here will pay close attention to what is said, keeping in mind that what is said is not necessarily indicative of what the actual policy of either candidate will be.
The author is The Jerusalem Post’s op-ed editor