Five Best Wednesday Columns

Alan Dershowitz on misleading media coverage of Israel, Jill Lawrence on immigration reform, Thomas Friedman on Gaza, John Taylor on monetary policy, and Anna Marie Cox on voter ID laws. 

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Alan Dershowitz in The Jerusalem Post on misleading media coverage on the conflict in Gaza. Dershowitz argues that the death count among Hamas and Israel is not an accurate representation of the conflict in Gaza, and that the media should stop fixating on the extremely lopsided number to imply wrongdoing on the part of Israel. "Palestinian civilians are killed despite Israel’s best efforts precisely because Hamas wants civilians to be killed, especially if these civilians are children, women or the elderly.  Hamas stands ready to parade these human shields in front of the media which is eager to show the dead and count the bodies." Dershowitz points out that while Israel explicitly seeks to avoid civilian casualties, Hamas welcomes it as part of a strategy aimed at garnering international outrage towards Israel. "Indeed some media and international organizations seem implicitly to be condemning Israel for protecting the lives of its own citizens, by repeatedly pointing out that none have died, while Palestinian deaths have reached nearly 200.  The reason there have been no Israeli deaths so far is because Israel spends hundreds of millions of dollars trying to protect its civilians, while Hamas spends its resources deliberately exposing its civilians to the risks of Israeli counterattacks."

Jill Lawrence in Al-Jazeera America on how the U.S. border crisis can still spark a comprehensive immigration reform policy. The U.S. border crisis, which has seen tens of thousands of immigrant children streaming into the United States from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador has seemingly made any hope of bipartisan effort at comprehensive immigration reform null and void. Lawrence argues that, in fact, it should have done the opposite. "There is a fatalism in the political class about immigration reform, fueled by Obama’s saying House Speaker John Boehner told him it was not going anywhere. But strategists for both sides have told me that achieving it this year is not 100 percent impossible — if Democrats press for more than damage control at the border and if there is a conversation between Obama and Republicans." Lawrence says those in the GOP worried about appearing too soft on immigration should be focusing attention on their quickly eroding support in the Latin-American community. "... it’s not all blue skies for the GOP. Only 23 percent of respondents in the ABC/Washington Post poll approved of how Republicans are handling the border situation — even worse than Obama’s rating. Simply saying no to the money would reinforce the image of a party that is not interested in solutions. And the debate over what to do about the children is highlighting fissures between hard-liners and those who want reform, as well as the perception that the GOP is hostile to immigrants."

Thomas Friedman in The New York Times on how Israel can combat the forces of disorder in Gaza and establish order. The forces of order must prevail against the forces of disorder for the crisis in Gaza to end. Here's what Friedman proposes: "The only sustainable way to do it is by Israel partnering with moderate Palestinians in the West Bank to build a thriving state there, so Gaza Palestinians wake up every day and say to the nihilistic Hamas: “We want what our West Bank cousins have.” The only sustainable controls are those that come from within." Unfortunately, he writes, disorder is winning the day and continuing to bring instability and violence. "Jewish settlers in Israel have done all they could to build more settlements and undermine Palestinian trust that Israel will ever share sufficient power for a West Bank Palestinian state to emerge. And the moderate, secular Palestinian leadership in the West Bank all too often has shown too little courage to compromise at crunchtime. So no compelling West Bank alternative to Hamas’s nihilism exists."
John Taylor in The Wall St. Journal (subscription) on the benefits to sounds monetary policy from the Federal Reserve. Taylor criticizes the ad-hoc way the Federal Reserve has been dealing with its monetary policy over the last decade. "When monetary policy became more rules-based during the 1980s, 1990s and until recently, the economy improved and we got what economists call the Great Moderation of strong economic growth with declining unemployment and inflation during those same years. When policy became more ad hoc, interventionist and discretionary during the past decade, the economy deteriorated and we got a financial crisis, a Great Recession, and a not-so-great recovery." He advocates for a more rules-based approach, which was recently proposed in the Federal Reserve Accountability and Transparency Act introduced in the House. "According to the legislation, the Fed, not Congress, would choose the rule and how to describe it. But if the Fed deviated from its rule, then the chair of the Fed would have to "testify before the appropriate congressional committees as to why the [rule] is not in compliance." The rule would have to be consistent with the setting of the actual federal-funds rate at the time of the submission."
Ana Marie Cox in The Guardian on the fight between the DOJ and the State of Texas over voter ID laws. Cox looks deeper into what she sees as the difficulty for Republicans in explaining away the law's racially motivated undertones. "Right now, Americans support the idea of voter ID laws by huge margins... But the reasons that the public supports such laws aren't the same as the GOP's reasons for pursuing them: Republicans want to prevent specific types of people from voting; the American public wants voting to be fair. That's why conservatives have had to hammer so hard on the false narrative of "voter fraud" – to convince everyone that it's what the laws are really about." According to Cox, the numbers suggest that while voters support voter ID laws, that's because most people don't know what is in them. "A [survey] found that informing respondents that 'Opponents of voters ID laws argue they can actually prevent people who are eligible to vote from voting' brought support for voter ID down by 12 points."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.