In Israel’s war of independence in 1948, American Communists were deeply involved in the covert shipment of arms to the new state of Israel, and Communists were prominent among those Americans wounded or killed in battles protecting Israel from Arab attack. How do we know this? It says so in a standard reference book found in hundreds of American libraries. The Encyclopedia of the American Left, published by Oxford University Press, was selected by Choice and Library Journal as one of the ten best reference books published in 1990. It sold so well that a second edition appeared in 1998. Reference books are expected to summarize the scholarly consensus and to present reliable information. In fact these claims about the role of American Communists in Israel’s founding, made in the second edition, have no basis whatsoever in any historical literature. Yet this and other distorti ...