My new column is up at the Daily Beast:
I found the pamphlets on a table at the Hillel house of a West Coast university. They’d been left by a representative of Stand With Us, the Los-Angeles based member of the “Israel advocacy” family of organizations. The booklets, entitled Israel: Pocket Facts, were the size of missionary tracts of yesteryear—small enough so that you can always keep one with you to consult when your faith is challenged.
On its website, Stand With Us says it aims at helping people “educate their own local campuses and communities about Israel.” Putting “campuses” first appears intentional: Fierce arguments about Israel are more likely on campus than at the average workplace, and some donors worry that Jewish kids are besieged on the quad.
On each page, in large type, Israel: Pocket Facts provides a few easy-to-memorize shouting points with which pro-Israel students can respond to the equally simplistic slogans of anti-Israel students while everyone else wanders off in disgust. Some of the factoids are footnoted. The authors apparently hope that students won’t follow the footnotes to the sources, or learn anything else about Israel, or think with complexity about the issues.
So, for instance, there’s a page about why Palestinians left the territory that became Israel in 1948. It lists five reasons, including “to escape the war,” and “Arab leaders encouraged the masses to get out of the way of the advancing Arab armies.” If you read to the bottom, you get to “In some cases Israeli troops forced Arab residents from their homes in sensitive, strategic zones.” All five are footnoted to Benny Morris’s The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949—without page numbers.
In essence, the booklet repeats the classic Israeli account of Palestinian flight, adds a quarter of an acknowledgment of expulsions, and cites the very book that shattered the classic account beyond repair. …
Read the rest here.