In The War on Error, historian and political analyst Martin Kramer presents a series of case studies, some based on pathfinding research and others on provocative analysis, that correct misinformation clouding the public’s understanding of the Middle East. He also offers a forensic exploration of how misinformation arises and becomes “fact.”
The book is divided into five themes: Orientalism and Middle Eastern studies, a prime casualty of the culture wars; Islamism, massively misrepresented by apologists; Arab politics, a generator of disappointing surprises; Israeli history, manipulated by reckless revisionists; and American Jews and Israel, the subject of irrational fantasies. Kramer shows how error permeates the debate over each of these themes, creating distorted images that cause policy failures.
Kramer approaches questions in the spirit of a relentless fact-checker. Did Israeli troops massacre Palestinian Arabs in Lydda in July 1948? Was the bestseller Exodus hatched by an advertising executive? Did Martin Luther King, Jr., describe anti-Zionism as antisemitism? Did a major post-9/11 documentary film deliberately distort the history of Islam? Did Israel push the United States into the Iraq War? Kramer also questions paradigms—the “Arab Spring,” the map of the Middle East, and linkage. Along the way, he amasses new evidence, exposes carelessness, and provides definitive answers.
Jews figure prominently in the history of the modern European encounter with Islam. The similarities between Hebrew and Arabic, the parallels between two faiths grounded in law, and the relative tolerance of Muslim rule toward Jews--all these are said to have permitted many Jews to approach Islam with an understanding and sympathy once uncommon in Europe. Was there a "Jewish discovery of Islam," distinct from Europe's discovery? Is there some unifying characteristic to the approach of these Jewish "discoverers"? In this original volume, contributors assess the approaches to Islam of some of the most famous European Jewish travelers, writers, and scholars.
Is Islamism driven by religious fervor, social protest or national xenophobia? Is the rise of Islamism a threat to stability, tolerance, and order, or is it the first step toward reform, participation, and democratization? These and other questions are debated by nine authors - leading protagonists in the Islamism debate - from the United States, Britain, France, and Israel.
An impressive array of scholars, biographers, and critics from the disciplines of anthropology, history, political science, and psychology explore the diversity of approaches both to writing biography and to reading self-narratives.