December 7, 2019

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Book review: Industry of Lies, by Ben Dror Yemini

Before you even bother to read this review, just order the book, now. Do not waste a second.

In fact, order more than one. If you have any liberal friends who are not so far gone as to have closed their minds off about Israel, send them a copy of this book.

Industry of Lies: Media, Academia, and the Israeli-Arab Conflict, by Ben-Dror Yemini, is the best book to debunk anti-Israel lies bar none.

For one thing, it is a well-researched piece of scholarship that methodically dismantles the claims of the anti-Israel crowd. Yemini not only goes after the lies but also the decontextualization of things that Israel is involved with.

For example, in chapter 3, Yemini shows that mass population exchanges have happened many times in the 20th century, and that it was universally regarded as a humane way to end conflict at that time, to keep warring groups separated and to minimize slaughter of the minority population. The population exchange between Jews in Arab countries and Arabs under Israeli rule followed the pattern of India/Pakistan, for example.

But moreover in the specific context of Palestine, the people advocating transfer of populations in the 1920s and 1930s were Arab leaders themselves! And other proponents of transfer of Arabs out of a potential Jewish state include not one but two Nobel Peace Prize winners, Norman Angell and Christian Lange. The Zionists were hesitant about transfer, the rest of the world thought it was a great idea.

This is but one small example of how Ben Dror Yemini takes the major anti-Israel talking points – in this case, the lie that Zionism was based on the idea of ethnic cleansing – and reveals the true context for what happened behind the Arab flight from Israel-controlled areas.

The book is literally filled with incredible nuggets of historical as well as current information. The idea of returning refugees to Israel was opposed by Palestinian leaders like Haj Amin Husseini and Emil Ghouri in 19498 and only a fraction of the 25,000 refugees Israel offered to allow to return actually took advantage of the offer in 1949 and 1950. He shows how the “right of return” was always meant to destroy Israel, using quotes from Arab leaders – and how the Arabs refused to integrate Palestinian refugees in their own countries in defiance of UN resolutions. Even though the ideas that Israel engages in “genocide” or “apartheid” are absurd on the face of it, Yemini actually crunches the numbers and shows how such charges cannot possibly come from any honest researcher.

Yemini takes on the charlatan historians, academic frauds, glory-seeking washed up rock stars. He shows dispassionately how small the Israel-Arab conflict is in comparison with other conflicts around the globe – and how those other conflicts, and their victims, are ignored while Palestinian victims are given financial and moral support far out of proportion both to their suffering and to their actual actions.

But the book is more than just a list of facts. Yemini is throwing the gauntlet to the leftists and liberals who think that their anti-Israel obsession is based on justice and not hate.

Yemini is no right-winger. He supports a two-state solution, he is against settlements and at one point he shows that he favored an Ehud Olmert peace plan that would have gone beyond any other with the holy places of Jerusalem under international control. But he is under no illusions about the peacefulness of the Arabs nor about the crazed accusations by Israel’s enemies to Israel. He shows that the Palestinians have been the ones to reject peace, over and over again, and that their goals appear to be against any real peace.

Yemini is happy to criticize Israel. He will insult the far right in Israel. But he will not stand still while Haaretz makes up complete lies about Israel and offers them to the world as evidence of how reprehensible Israel supposedly is.

While most other books that make the case for Israel appeal only to committed Zionists, Ben Dror Yemini’s Industry of Lies is meant to be read by Israel’s critics. Its blurbs are written by Ari Shavit (who is the target of some of Yemini’s criticism) and Ehud Barak.

Critics of Israel who are willing to have an open mind should be encouraged to read this. Accomplished liars like Roger Waters or Ilan Pappe or Judith Butler will never deign to allow any of his arguments to go past their armor of hate, but college students who only hear a fourth-hand regurgitation of lies about Israel should read this book.

But beyond that, the book is still a goldmine for the pro-Israel crowd. Yemini’s arguments are often novel and different. The book has thousands of footnotes, of which many can become expanded into full articles. (Disclaimer: I am referenced several times.)

In short, this book is a must read for people who love Israel, people who think they love Israel but who have been convinced that it has become evil incarnate, and people who still can think for themselves about Israel and the Middle East.

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