Yes, there’s no lack of slogan-mongering on the other side of this argument, including the emotion-grabbing and inaccurate use of the apartheid label and historical accounts which assign all responsibility for the conflict to Israel and all victimhood to the Palestinians. But the answer to slogans shouldn’t be slogans. In the years students spend on campus, they should be learning to examine information critically and carefully. You can’t “educate…about Israel” by flinging factoids. Any account of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that fits in a shirt pocket isn’t worth having. Go and study.
This is where hasbara becomes deficient. Having students learn these “half-truths and sleight-of-words,” as Gorenberg calls them, doesn’t actually help students understand the causes or realities of the conflict, it helps students memorise sound bites. For those who aren’t interested in understanding the whole picture (which is fine, not every body is) you have to wonder how much they will actually learn from these booklets. Nothing that prepares them to confront the apartheid analogies of campus, that’s for sure.
The answer is laying the facts — and where there are competing narratives, outlining both of them side-by-side — and encouraging students to understand what’s actually going on, not the 30-second elevator pitch version. StandWithUs and others who utilise these methods are undermining education on Israel, and making their identification with Zionist values more difficult.