Roz Rothstein wanted nothing more than to relax after a long flight from Los Angeles to New York. Instead, the head of StandWithUs, a Los Angeles-based Israel advocacy group, found herself face to face with the anti-Zionist attitudes she and her organization work to eradicate.

During the cab ride to her hotel, Rothstein asked her driver about former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, to make small talk. The Salvadorian-born man grew agitated, she said, talking about why Americans needed a Democratic president; how the Republicans had lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; and how, in the Gulf War, the Americans had overreacted to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.

Rothstein said the driver wrapped up with: “People always steal land from each other, just as the Jews stole land from the Arabs in 1948. No Jews lived in Israel before then.”

At a red light, Rothstein reached into her briefcase and fished out a copy of “Israel 101,” a new 44-page glossy booklet on the Israel-Arab conflict published by StandWithUs. She opened to a map of the Middle East, which depicts a tiny Israel surrounded by much larger Arab neighbors. Echoing themes found in “Israel 101,” Rothstein told the driver that Jews have lived in the land of Israel continuously for 3,000 years and that, by as early as the 1870s, Jews made up the majority population in Jerusalem. . .

More than a year in the making, “Israel 101” offers a short but comprehensive primer on Israel, addressing such subjects as the recent war in Lebanon, terrorism and the modern Zionist movement, said StandWithUs education research director Roberta Seid, who helped oversee the project. Featuring maps, splashy graphics and more than 100 footnotes, “Israel 101” expands on a 2002 StandWithUs pro-Israel brochure, and provides an easily digestible tool to combat anti-Zionism, said Seid, who holds a doctorate in history from UC Berkeley and once taught social history at USC. . .

Munira Syeda, spokeswoman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Southern California chapter, called “Israel 101” “one-sided” for its failure to fully address the “occupation” of Palestinian territories, the “illegal” construction of settlements and Israel’s “apartheid” policies.

The widespread distribution of such “propaganda,” Syeda said, “puts up roadblocks in the way of a just peace.”


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