17 October '11
When Columbia professor Rashid Khalidi repeatedly promoted a hoax quote meant to impugn Israel, he left some of the world's largest newspapers holding the bag. The New York Times, LA Times and others eventually published corrections to the falsehood Khalidi had them print.
Fact checkers hoping to avoid a repeat might want to check out Martin Kramer's incisive deconstruction of the professor's latest misinformation campaign.
Khalidi, it seems, has taken to claiming that a man named Edward Gottlieb, "one of the founders of the modern public relations industry" and “the father of the American iteration of Zionism,” commissioned Leon Uris to write his famous novel Exodus in order to positively advertise Israel.
After investigating, Kramer concluded:
In sum, the Gottlieb “commission” never happened. Uris’s biographers dismiss it, Gottlieb’s most knowledgeable associate denies it, and no documents in Uris’s papers or Israeli archives testify to it. It originated as a boast by Gottlieb to another PR man, made almost thirty years after the (non-)fact. And given its origin, it’s precisely the sort of story a serious professional historian would never repeat as fact without first vetting it (as I did).
Yet it persists in the echo chamber of anti-Israel literature, where it has been copied over and over.
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