Noam L. Weissman is right that Jewish children in the U.S. learn far too little about Zionism and that much of the learning is superficial and clichéd (“How We Should Teach About Israel,” Sept. 1).
The 2013 Pew Research Center Report he cites showing that caring for Israeli as a core part of one’s Jewish identity falls from 53 percent among Jews over 65 to merely 32 percent of those aged 18-29 reflects this problem.
While Mr. Weissman is right that Jewish and Zionist history must be taught with sophistication, the problem also lies in another direction: the anti-Israel narrative that has taken a hold of a large chunk of the liberal-left spectrum in America, which is where most American Jews are located.
Our campus professionals have told of innumerable cases where Jewish students, arriving at campuses rife with hostile, anti-Israel activism, have often absorbed much of this hostile narrative prior to even arriving and are thus not disposed to or are intimidated against taking a stand for Zionism.
While it is deeply important that Zionist history be taught, something further is also needed in the Jewish education of our youth: Deconstructing the libels and outright lies about Israel that are being retailed widely and that will undoubtedly confront them if they choose to follow Israeli affairs or study the Middle East at college.
Where Jewish students hear that Israel ethnically cleansed Palestinian Arabs to found a state, that they attack innocent civilians in Gaza or deny Palestinians any chance for independence, they are hearing complete lies, which need to be countered with care and detail. We cannot assume that students will find out the truth for themselves when textbooks and college curricula are biased.
Zionist Organization of America