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The Israel Project’s Secret Hasbara Handbook Exposed

tip hasbara project screenshotImagine for a moment you’re a general about to embark on a decisive military campaign and your intelligence service secures a copy of your opponent’s entire campaign strategy. You open it and you see his battle plans laid out before you, key forces, weaponry, lines of attack, points of weaknesses, etc. You suddenly understand just how weak his forces are and precisely how to mercilessly attack and eviscerate him. The plan makes you understand that his forces are largely based on artifice and sham.  It gives you confidence that you are entirely on the right course and tells you how to stay on that course.  Victory is assured, your enemy’s defeat certain.

Douglas Bloomfield and Newsweek have done pretty close to that against the Israel lobby. Specifically, they’ve exposed a secret hasbara handbook written for The Israel Project by star Republican marketer, Frank Luntz. The oddly-named Global Language Dictionary (pdf) is a veritable goldmine of arguments, strategy, tactics. At 116 pages, it’s not for the faint of heart.  But anyone who wants to get inside the head of the Israel lobby must read this document.

I want to devote at least two or three posts to it so I hope you, dear reader, will bear with me.  I know my enthusiasm will mark me as a real wonk, but this is the real deal and worth spending some time parsing and deconstructing.

The first thing to say is that the entire document is a pathetic piece of propaganda.  While it ostensibly is addressed to TIP’s leaders and advises them how to shape a pro-Israel message when they lobby Congress, the media and other critical power brokers, the entire thing reeks of desperation and a lost cause.  It goes without saying that the arguments offered are not only devoid of truth, they’re devoid of rigor or credibility.  There is literally no substance to the claims offered on Israel’s behalf.  It’s an empty exercise in every sense of the word.  Reading this makes you realize that the entire Israel lobby edifice is a house of cards.

Perhaps I’m letting my shock at the shabbiness of the Dictionary get the better of me and overstating the case it reveals against the Lobby.  After all, any political network that exists for six decades and achieves as much as this one has doesn’t topple overnight.  But I’ll just have to let you be the judge.

One aspect of this I find extraordinary and entirely dubious is the choice of the Republican campaign pollster Frank Luntz to write this report.  This indicates, as I’ve always maintained, that the Lobby is totally tone deaf to the political environment.  We have a democratic president and two Houses of Congress under Democratic control for the first time in a few decades.  Pragmatic liberalism is ascendant.  Neo-conservatism and Bushian Republicanism are in retreat.  And who does TIP chose to make the case for Israel?  A right-wing Republican spinmeister.  Remarkable.  But one thing I must say is that this is a good sign for our side.  If our opponents are as wooden as they appear, then they will topple themselves without needing much help from us.

The first chapter, 25 Rules for Effective Communication opens with:

The first step to winning trust and friends for Israel is showing that you care about peace for BOTH Israelis and Palestinians and, in particular, a better future for every child.  Indeed, the sequence of your conversation is critical and you must start with empathy for BOTH sides first. Open your conversation with strong proven messages such as:

“Israel is committed to a better future for everyone – Israelis and Palestinians alike. Israel wants the pain and suffering to end, and is committed to working with the Palestinians toward a peaceful, diplomatic solution where both sides can have a better future. Let this be a time of hope and opportunity for both the
Israeli and the Palestinian people.”

The first thing we learn is that this passage, as with everything else printed in the handbook, is empty meaningless drivel.  It’s a perfect example of political three-card monty in which there appears to be a card which isn’t there at all.  It’s all a sham.  There is no substance.  The rhetoric here is even worse than that offered by spokespeople like Mark Regev on behalf of the Israeli government.

In the following passage, we can see that Luntz has lifted shamelessly lifted arguments from MEMRI and former Mossad officer, Itamar Marcus’ Palestine Media Watch.  Others before me have demolished these tawdry arguments, but it’s instructive to read the lies and distortions that TIP instructs its representatives to parrot.

Throughout, the document drips noblesse oblige and fake concern for Palestinian children:

“As a matter of principle, we believe that it is a basic right of children to be raised without hate. We ask the Palestinian leadership to end the culture of hate in Palestinian schools, 300 of which are named for suicide bombers.  Palestinian leaders should take textbooks out of classrooms that show maps of the Middle East without Israel and that glorify terrorism.”

As a matter of principle, children should not be raised to want to kill others or themselves. Yet, day after day, Palestinian leadership pushes a culture of hate that encourages even small children to become suicide bombers. Iran-backed Hamas’s public television in Gaza uses Sesame Street–type programming to
glorify suicide bombers.

As a matter of principle, no child should be abused in such a way. Palestinian children deserve better.”

As a matter of principle I believe that no child (Israeli or Palestinian) should be raised in fear that their mother, father, sister, brother, grandmother or grandfather could be killed for no other reason than they happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and a frightened, trigger hungry 18 year army recruit decides to make an example of them.

As for maps, before Frank Luntz or Itamar Marcus make their specious claims about Palestinian textbooks, I’d like them to show me a single Israeli textbook that features a map of Palestine.  You will certainly find Judea and Samaria.  But will you find any acknowledgement of the millions of Palestinians who live in the Territories?

Further, the arguments are entirely dated.  Suicide bombings were a serious phenomenon in years past.  But Palestinian militants have largely abandoned this tactic, at least in part due to its unpopularity among average Palestinians.  You certainly wouldn’t know this from Frank Luntz’s agitprop.  It’s like he’s living in a time warp and its still the first Intifada (circa 2000).

Clearly differentiate between the Palestinian people and Hamas. There is an immediate and clear distinction between the empathy Americans feel for the Palestinians and the scorn they direct at Palestinian leadership. Hamas is a terrorist organization – Americans get that already. But if it sounds like you are attacking the Palestinian people (even though they elected Hamas) rather than their leadership, you will lose public support.

Another characteristic of the Dictionary is the dubious distinctions it draws, as in this example.  There is no way to distinguish between the Palestinian people and their leadership.  In effect, the passage concedes the illogic of its argument with this phrase: “even though they elected Hamas.”  Of course they elected Hamas.  That’s precisely the point.  They had an election and chose who they wanted to represent them.  So for the lobby to say they sympathize with Palestinians, but not with the leaders they chose is an empty statement.

Yet another example of noblesse oblige (and it’s entirely dubious to claim that these words “work”):

WORDS THAT WORK

We know that the Palestinians deserve leaders who will care about the well being of their people, and who do not simply take hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance from America and Europe, put them in Swiss bank accounts, and use them to support terror instead of peace. The Palestinians need books, not bombs. They want roads, not rockets.”

Clearly passages like this are designed to score debate points but are entirely devoid of accuracy.  The claims of embezzlement, of course, go back to the days when Yasir Arafat ran things and tolerated rampant Fatah corruption.  But Arafat has been dead for lo these many years.  Someone ought to roll over and tell Tchaichovsky and Frank Luntz the news.

As for Palestinians wanting roads, they do.  They’d like some of those wonderful Israeli bypass roads that run directly through former Palestinian farmland and whisk settlers from their settlement homes to their jobs inside Israel proper.  The same apartheid roads which are off-limits to Palestinians.

One thing you’ve got to give Luntz, he’s not above stealing ideas from anyone, even Israeli peace activists (see italics):

MORE WORDS THAT WORK

“The obstacles on the road to a peaceful and prosperous Middle East are many.  Israel recognizes that peace is made with one’s adversaries, not with one’s friends. But peace can only be made with adversaries who want to make peace with you.  Terrorist organizations like Iran-backed Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad are, by definition, opposed to peaceful co-existence, and determined to prevent reconciliation. I ask you, how do you negotiate with those who want you dead?”

There is an amazing insularity in the arguments presented here, with absolutely no conception that Palestinians feel precisely the same emotions as Israelis.  In other words, they too ask how and why they should negotiate with a state of Israel that would just as soon kill them as live with them in peace.

More obliviousness, with no awareness of the dark irony of this statement:

“We may disagree about politics…But there is one fundamental principle that all peoples from all parts of the globe will agree on: civilized people do not target innocent women and children for death.”

Do I hear any concern here for the “innocent women and children” of Gaza who were slaughtered in their hundreds during the Gaza war?  No, of course not.

Of course, there is unintentionally comic discourse:

Don’t pretend that Israel is without mistakes or fault. It’s not true and no one believes it. Pretending Israel is free from errors does not pass the smell test. It will only make your listeners question the veracity of everything else you say.

Admit Israel make mistakes.  Don’t specify them.  Change the subject as quickly as possible and hope no one notices what you’ve just conceded.  And then point out how much more guilty the Palestinians are than the Israelis for the conflict.

Use humility. “I know that in trying to defend its children and citizens from terrorists that Israel has accidentally hurt innocent people. I know it, and I’m sorry for it. But what can Israel do to defend itself? If America had given up land for peace – and that land had been used for launching rockets at America, what would America do?

Use fake humility.  Pretend that Israel is the U.S. and that there has been no Occupation and no injustice perpetrated against Palestinians.  Pretend their lands have not been stolen.  Pretend they have not been turned into refugees in the hundreds of thousands.  Pretend that Israel has a right to expect Palestinians to behave like Canadians or Mexicans, who have not had a border dispute with the U.S. in 150 years.

Here is more fakery in the guise of concern.  And note the conflation of American Jews with Israelis as if we are them (a little identity confusion?):

WORDS THAT WORK

“Are Israelis perfect? No. Do we make mistakes? Yes. But we want a better future, and we are working towards it.

And we want Palestinians to have a better future as well. They deserve a government that will eliminate the terror not only because it will make my children safer—but also because it will make their children more prosperous. When the terror ends, Israel will no longer need to have challenging checkpoints to inspect goods and people. When the terror ends we will no longer need a security fence.”

There is virtually no terror on the West Bank, yet 500 checkpoints remain there.  Why?  Tell me why, Mr. Luntz.

If there is a money quote in this document that reveals that the lobby is now running scared it is this:

We’re at a time in history when Jews in general (and Israelis in particular) are no longer perceived as the persecuted people. In fact, among American and European audiences—sophisticated, educated, opinionated, non-Jewish audiences—Israelis are often seen as the occupiers and the aggressors. With that kind of baggage, it is critical that messages from the pro-Israel spokespeople not come across as supercilious or condescending.

More unintended irony:

WORDS THAT DON’T WORK

“We are prepared to allow them to build……”

If the Palestinians are to be seen as a trusted partner on the path to peace, they must not be subordinated, in perception or in practice, by the Israelis.

What is the Occupation if not “subordination” personified??

Here’s right back at ya, buddy:

WORDS THAT DO WORK

“Achieving peaceful relationships requires the leadership…of both sides. And so we ask the Palestinians … Stop using the language of incitement. Stop using the language of violence. Stop using the language of threats. You won’t achieve peace if your military leadership talks about war. You won’t achieve peace if people talk about pushing others to the sea or to the desert.”

Israel’s military and political leaders speak the language of violence, incitement and war virtually every day.  No acknowledgement of that, of course, by Luntz.  As for “pushing Jews into the sea,” I haven’t read a real live Palestinian resident of the Occupied Territories make such a statement in several decades.  So this argument is circa 1970 or so.  Nice try though, Frank.

“Israelis know what it is like to live their lives with the daily threat of terrorism.

As do Palestinians.

Remind people – again and again – that Israel wants peace. Reason One: If Americans see no hope for peace—if they only see a continuation of a 2,000-year-long episode of “Family Feud”—Americans will not want their government to spend tax dollars or their President’s clout on helping Israel.

Bingo.  Here Luntz inadvertently speaks the truth. Israel wants peace in the same vague way that a 13 year old girl may want to be whoever the teen idol of the moment happens to be. Israel has no plan. No means of getting to peace. So to say that Israel wants peace is, once again, meaningless.

And the fear lurking in the hearts of the lobby is that some day Israel will be exposed and Americans will abandon it because they will come to understand that whatever Israel may claim it wants, there will never be peace under terms acceptable to Israel.  That will be a day of reckoning that the lobby wants to avoid at all costs.

To be continued…

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{ 43 comments… add one }
  • Richard Witty July 11, 2009, 3:06 AM

    Will this give you cause for dismissal of arguments whenever those 100 or so words are used?

    Eventually, every word is either an activist word or a hasbara word, and we won’t have the scope to speak to each other for the distrust that we bear, borne of political litmus testing.

    For example, “international law” is now too often dismissed for its misuse and overuse. Or “genocide”. Or “oppression” even. Certainly the term “the occupation” is dismissed.

    Suspicion isn’t analysis.

  • Suzanne July 11, 2009, 3:17 AM

    I commend you for having the patience to go through this- I don’t. But it’s useful because soon we will be hearing these arguments- they are not new brilliant or right but they seem to make sense to a whole sector of the like-minded willing to take the programming. Again, these are essentially the old arguments all of which have very good responses. The thing is the responses don’t matter- they are not required because there is no opening for them to enter. Making valid points against an invalid arguments still has you swatting the same arguments down from the same people even . They don’t take anything in. They are not about dialogue or reason (very anti-Jewish).

    What sticks out for me it that this is ALL about what THEY should do. Not for a moment does it look within. And that is, for me the real difference, or where the real difference begins, between what you call “progressives” and the right wingers approach.

    When you strip away all the talking points then, what you get is not the road to a peaceful settlement and coexistence, but a fantasy world whereby Israel can continue to believe it can stand firm and control the situation while maintaining the fiction of a status quo.

    I only hope that Palestinians are mature enough in their struggle to hold their fire, hold their violent responses, and take another route but everything points to another war or intifada which is just what some want as justification.

    Finally- you never hear about international law from these folks- it’s like it does not exist. That enables arguments to go back in time to the colonial era and slavery for comparison to claim hypocrisy.

  • Richard Witty July 11, 2009, 3:24 AM

    To elaborate, there are MANY individuals that when they speak of peace and mutual benefit are sincere.

    And, identifying Hamas’ historical and recent actions, are critical questions relative to Palestinians’ and particularly Gazans welfare, and VERY critical questions relative to whether a peace agreement can be constructed.

    The document does describe mostly a paliative approach, directed towards Jews (more than general public).

    That can only be broken down among the majority of the self-identifying Jewish community by cool, rational, well-organized education.

    Thats if you are interested in persuasion, rather than coercion in some political form. I think persuasion is possible, though with many irritating obstacles. If it is possible, I personally prefer overwhelmingly over warring in some form.

    “Which side are you on?” is the wrong side.

    I had a correspondence with Michael Lerner a few years ago, asking about his periodic increasing contentiousness as to political dissent, and the relation of that to spirituality based on self and other acceptance largely.

    He said that Israel needed “tough love”. Love, but critical. I responded that Israel gets the Tough part from dissidents, even yourself, and extended over a long period of time, but doesn’t get the love much.

    Using his analogy of intervening in the life of a troubled teenager say, after an extended period there is only a remote chance that the love will be experienced as loving, caring, that the “tough” is what will imprint. “They hate me.”, rather than “They love me. Thank you for bringing me back to my senses.”

    • Frank December 25, 2010, 3:41 AM

      Israel “doesn’t get the love much”? It gets plenty of love, in the form of $3 billion in direct aid per year from the US government, in the form of unconditional support from 99 percent of the congress, in the form of an automatic UN Security Council veto of anything critical of Israel for 60 years now, in the form of US collaboration in a fake peace process that has furthered Zionists dreams of greater Israel to the point that Palestinians now live on 22 percent of original Palestine, in the form of a media that continues to misrepresent just about everything about the situation to the benefit of Israel… should I continue?

  • SimoHurtta July 11, 2009, 7:42 AM

    The rule number 5 is interesting in Chapter 3
    HOW TO TALK ABOUT PALESTINIAN SELF GOVERNMENT & PROSPERITY.

    (5) The fight is over IDEOLOGY – not land; terror, not territory. Thus, you must avoid using Israel’s religious claims to land as a reason why Israel should not give up land. Such claims only make Israel look extremist to people who are not religious Christians or Jews.

    What does that IDEOLOGY mean? Does it mean that Palestinians IDEOLOGY is not to allow Jewish settlers to their area and Israel’s IDEOLOGY is to take that land or what? There is in the document in several points more or less directly said that speak about their “problematic” religion, but avoid at all costs speaking of yours. Like Israel is a secular normal state and Jews secular people without religion.

    Chapter 6 is hilarious. The second chapter:

    The situation at America’s colleges and universities is even worse. The core mood on America’s campuses is friendly to the enemies of Israel and hostile to Israel’s supporters. When Israeli spokespeople come out and attack radical or fundamentalist Islam, many college kids rebel or, worse yet, openly criticize Israel for its so-called intolerance. Yes, adults do see an Islamic threat, but their kids don’t.

    Hmmmm why should US or European collage kids see Islam as a threat when Israeli war machines kill Christians and Muslims in Middle East and religious settlements are built on others land.

  • DICKERSON3870 July 11, 2009, 11:32 AM

    RE: “I hope you, dear reader, will bear with me”

    MY COMMENT: No problemo! I downloaded the Global Language “Fictionary” to three different hard drives for safe keeping. I appreciate your taking the time to provide this analysis since it will probably be months before I get around to actually reading the entire document.

    • Richard Silverstein July 12, 2009, 12:04 AM

      “Fictionary” I like that!

      • DICKERSON3870 July 12, 2009, 12:57 PM

        Thanks. I had hoped you would. Feel free to use it.

  • n July 11, 2009, 7:23 PM

    Dear Israel,

    Richard Witty tells me that you haven’t been feeling very loved lately. Really, I don’t think that that is called for. I’ve been sending you billions of dollars a year for the last 40 or so, didn’t you get the check this year? Do you know how much I send to my cousins in Ghana? Not much, that’s how much. To be honest, I didn’t even give my mother a 500$ gift for christmas, which is how much I give each of you every year. I heard that you haven’t been sharing that money very fairly with the non Jews who live amongst you. Is that true, or just a vicious rumor spread by people that don’t like you?

    When the United Nations wants to give you detention I’m always sure to veto that. I’m sure when you killed 1500 of your neighbors that was just an accident, well, the probably deserved it anyway.

    I’ve heard that you would like to offer the old residents of the houses you live in compensation in return for your having ethnically cleansed them. Is this true? Would you write the check for that or would I?

    Love,
    N

    PS. Boeing would like to send you a special thank you for selling military technology to China, that should guarantee several billion dollars in revenue for them.

    • Richard Witty July 11, 2009, 11:49 PM

      You’re confused. You attribute a “hasbara” approach to my comments?

      Why?

      • n July 12, 2009, 8:03 PM

        Sweet, Witty asks a question. He is moving from monologue to dialogue. Next you can become a one stater, integrate not separate. Unfortunately I will be on vacation for the the next couple of weeks.

        I didn’t say anything about “a hasbara approach” in my post, methinks the lady doth protest too much. I was just mocking your arguement that we need to be showing Israel some more love. As, I think my post says quite clearly, I think we show Israel more than enough love. My mother would probably agree if she knew how little her Christmas gift cost.

        I’m pretty sure you would find some Richard Wittyism’s in the hasbara booklet though.

  • Frank Luntz July 11, 2009, 10:01 PM

    It’s Frank Luntz here. I really enjoyed your analysis of my analysis. I was afraid no one would pay attention — so the fact that you’re devoting so much space to it indicates that it wasn’t a wasted effort. If it were truly meaningless or irrelevent, you would just have ignored it.

    Just a couple of points I wish to raise.

    Whenever I talked about the suffering of the Israelis, you complained that I didn’t address the suffering of the Palestinians. But whenever I talked about the suffering of the Palestinians or Israeli mistakes, you simply dismissed it. Readers will recognize this hypocricy immediately, and it undercuts the credibilty of your analysis. A more effective critique would take a more neutral approach.

    And second, my analysis was written with the benefit of significant Democratic/liberal input. I also sought the advice of several Jewish Democratic members of Congress.

    Perhaps more importantly, it also contains sigificant language from the Center-Lift of Israeli politics, including leaders of the Labour Party and President Shimon Peres — an outstanding communicator and often opponent of the current Prime Minister.

    Several of my words that work suggestions you criticize most strongly come straight (word for word) from the Israeli Left — hardly supporters of the current Israeli government.

    So how much further left must I go to earn your approval? Is there anything I could write pro-Israel that you wouldn’t criticize?

    Based on your comments, perhaps a language book in support of Hamas would be more to your liking.

    • Richard Silverstein July 11, 2009, 10:52 PM

      Well, now we know that Frank cares enough to enter the fray. I’m touched. But I’m afraid even his comment is disingenuous:

      I was afraid no one would pay attention

      You knew all those TIP activists would be paying close attention. And you, or at least TIP, made clear the handbook was to be a secret document (those plans were foiled I’m pleased to say). So how much attention did you really want the public to pay to it?

      If it were truly meaningless or irrelevent [sic], you would just have ignored it.

      I’m sorry to say, Frank, that it is meaningless and irrelevant for the purpose you wrote it–to win the propaganda war for Israel here in the U.S. Where it is not meaningless or irrelevant is as a testimony to the arguments and tactics of the rightist pro-Israel crowd.

      whenever I talked about the suffering of the Palestinians or Israeli mistakes, you simply dismissed it.

      Indeed I did because from the amount of time and effort you devote to describing Israeli suffering to the amount you devote to Palestinian suffering it is ultra crystal clear that you are paying lip service to the latter. You don’t give a flying fig about Palestinian suffering and I challenge you to show me a single thing you’ve written that expresses such a position with any specificity or detail.

      my analysis was written with the benefit of significant Democratic/liberal input

      I don’t know what “significant input” means nor do I trust such a vague statement to carry any credibility. Besides, you’re a Republican, Frank. Remember? You don’t work for Democrats. If TIP wanted this handbook to be bi-partisan they would’ve found a way to have it authored by someone who was truly bi-partisan or by two authors who would fairly represent both perspectives. Further, the notion that this handbook comes anywhere close to reflecting the policy of the Democratic Obama administration is laughable. If you gave Democrats any input either their advice was inarticulate or you ignored it. You’ve presented a Republican rightist document, Frank. Own up to it. Don’t try to pretend it’s something with which Barack Obama could rock himself to sleep at night.

      it also contains sigificant [sic] language from the Center-Lift of Israeli politics, including leaders of the Labour Party and President Shimon Peres

      Oh, you mean the part of the Dictionary where you concede that Bibi Netanyahu’s policy denies a two state solution. Was that where you used language from the Israeli “center-left.” And I’ve got news for you, Frank. Shimon Peres is a member of Kadima and hasn’t been a member of the Israeli left (if he ever was) for a very long time. Nor is the Labor party representative of the left. Get with it Frank. You’re meeting all the wrong people when you take those Aipac/TIP junkets to Israel. Get out a bit. Meet some new faces who might challenge your world view a bit.

      Several of my words that work suggestions you criticize most strongly come straight (word for word) from the Israeli Left

      Yes, as I indicate you shamefully stole the line “you don’t make peace with friends, you make peace with enemies” from the Israeli left. But you eviscerated any meaning that it might’ve had by refusing to actually make peace with Israel’s enemies. Your stance is that Israel has to make peace with Palestine–just not now. I’ve got news for you. That’s not a peace plan. That’s not pro-peace. That’s empty rhetoric.

      As for other rhetoric you stole which you claim came from the “Israeli left” I’d challenge you to point out any such statements. You have a strange idea of what is the “left” in terms of Israeli politics. About as strange an idea as you have of what constitutes the “left” in U.S. politics I’d venture to say.

      perhaps a language book in support of Hamas would be more to your liking.

      Thanks for the snark, Frank. When you can’t rebut your opponent strike a low non sequitur blow. BTW, I’m afraid Hamas can’t afford your rates, Frank. So there won’t be any language book for Hamas anytime soon.

      • Frank Luntz July 12, 2009, 4:12 AM

        Acutally, I read this blog frequently beause I’m interested in all perspectives. While I may disagree with many of the posts, I want to know and understand their opinions. And unlike Richard Silverstein, I see some merit even in those I disagree with wholeheartedly.

        Mr. Silverstein clearly has the confidence of his point of view, so much so that he can’t find even a single positive point in a 116 page document. Nothing. You, the reader of this post, can decide for yourself what that indicates about his analysis, his openness, and his point of view.

        And as for Hamas, they could afford to do anything they wanted if they would just stop spending their money for bombs to kill innocent Israelis. Books would be a lot more constructive.

        This is the one place where Mr. Silverstein has sized me up accurately. I hate Hamas almost as much as Hamas hates Jews. As for Mr. Silverstein, based on his expressed sympathies, I’m not so sure.

        • Freidenker July 12, 2009, 4:25 AM

          I’m willing to concede at this time that Mr. Silverstein appears to be extremely biased, and that’s quite unfortunate, as he brings quite an interesting topic in this post.

          The fact that Mr. Silverstein continuously laces his critique with snide remarks makes it almost impossible to read this post with impartiality. It’s a shame. While I can’t trust you as the opposing view to be objective, I can at least see some attempt by you to fight fairly.

          I would like to know if there is anywhere you’ve responded to some of the claims made by your critics, as an Israeli Jew, I’m very interested in this topic.

          • Donald Johnson July 12, 2009, 2:35 PM

            “While I can’t trust you as the opposing view to be objective, I can at least see some attempt by you to fight fairly.”

            That to Frank Luntz? His smarmy dishonest approach to the conflict is self-evident in the quotes that Richard supplies. I can’t feel any sympathy for your pain if you can read the two of them side by side and then say that Mr. Luntz is fighting fairly.

            One can point out that Palestinian violence is part of the problem–I think the rocket-firing and the suicide bombing (even if that’s in the past) are inexcusable and if Luntz had done that and then pointed out Israel’s crimes, then there would be a basis for a real discussion. But he doesn’t do so, because he’s a partisan hack.

          • Richard Silverstein July 12, 2009, 11:36 PM

            One can point out that Palestinian violence is part of the problem–I think the rocket-firing and the suicide bombing (even if that’s in the past) are inexcusable and if Luntz had done that and then pointed out Israel’s crimes, then there would be a basis for a real discussion

            Yes, precisely my point. There are commenters here who criticize my views, some of whom do exactly that: they acknowledge the problem of wrong on both sides as I do myself (contrary to the nonsense that Luntz writes about me).

        • Mary Hughes-Thompson July 12, 2009, 5:21 AM

          I have spoken to many members of the political party Hamas (democratically elected by its people) and not once have I heard them show hatred for Jews. What they don’t like, and I am with them on this, are Zionists.

          (Sorry, Richard, I think I read recently that you consider yourself a zionist. It gave me pause, I must admit)

          Or perhaps my understanding of what a Zionist is needs to be updated or corrected. You certainly don’t appear to fit the pattern of what my good Jewish friends have told me qualifies one – Jew or non-Jew – as a Zionist.

          • Richard Silverstein July 12, 2009, 6:48 PM

            perhaps my understanding of what a Zionist is needs to be updated or corrected.

            I consider myself a critical, or progressive Zionist. I am in favor of Jewish self-determination in the land of Israel. I am also in favor of Arab self-determination in the land of Israel. I’m in favor of a single state that treats Jews & Arabs with equal rights.

        • Megat S. Merican July 12, 2009, 6:46 AM

          Frank Luntz: …… “I hate Hamas almost as much as Hamas hates Jews”…..

          Don’t you think it would be more accurate to say that Hamas hates the idea of occupation?

          And on that I do not know of anyone who (whether rightly or wrongly) would not take to arms when put under such brutal conditions. I could be wrong.

        • Richard Silverstein July 12, 2009, 7:07 PM

          I see some merit even in those I disagree with wholeheartedly.

          I actually doubt that’s true. If it were then you wouldn’t have ended your last comment w. that snarky reference to my supposed interest in a Hamas handbook.

          he can’t find even a single positive point in a 116 page document. Nothing. You, the reader of this post, can decide for yourself what that indicates about his analysis

          Frank, unlike you who urges your propagandists to find something to agree w. in the Palestinian argument merely for tactical rather than substantive reasons, I call things as I see them. You Dictionary is a fraud fr. start to finish. If I’d read a single item in it that was worthy of serious discussion I would’ve noted that. In fact, your claim that you read this blog frequently is either untrue or indicates that you read little more than the post titles. If you DID read this blog you would know that I often discuss issues dispassionately & concede weaknesses of the left/pro-peace position.

          I don’t often write about the strengths of the rightist pro-Israel position because frankly there is little that is strong in it. And in fact, the problem is that propagandists like you essentially ruin things for your side of the argument because your claims are so patently fraudulent that they damage your side even when it might have something useful or constructive to say.

          as for Hamas, they could afford to do anything they wanted if they would just stop spending their money for bombs to kill innocent Israelis.

          Actually, we could say the same about Israel. If they got off their duffs and negotiated a peace agreement with their enemies then they wouldn’t have to spend billions on cruise missiles, helicopter guns ships, cluster bombs, F-16s & all the other paraphanelia of war, money that could be better spent actually improving the lives of poor Israeli Jews and Arabs.

          I hate Hamas almost as much as Hamas hates Jews.

          You’ve got one thing right, Frank. You hate Hamas and you’re a racist to boot. That’s because no current Hamas leader has ever made any statement saying that they or Hamas hates Jews. Sure, Frank, you can dust off that old canard about the 1988 Hamas charter, written by some poor shlub who no one remembers. Yes, the Charter hasn’t been rewritten or abrogated as it should be. But that’s prob. because Hamas has better things to do like trying to run Gaza & protects its inhabitants from Israel military mayhem. I dare you to produce a single statement by a senior Hamas leader that indicates that he hates Jews.

          As for Mr. Silverstein, based on his expressed sympathies, I’m not so sure.

          Don’t you dare even imply that I hate my own people. You should be ashamed of yrself. This is the type of gutter argument that you Republican rightists specialize in. It won’t work on me buddy. You look at my bio in this blog & read my bona fides. They’re unimpeachable. What are yours? How many years did you study Judaica, Hebrew, Zionism, & Jewish history? How many works of the great Zionist thinkers like Buber, Magnes, Hertzberg & Ginsburg have you read? How many degrees have you earned in the subject? How many articles have you written about Jewish identity? How many poems & stories have you translated from Hebrew or Yiddish to English? When you can even come within hailing distance of what I’ve done then you have a right to open yr mouth attempting to smear me. Until then, keep your arguments such as they are on substance.

          • Rae January 25, 2012, 7:38 AM

            Have you ever read Eustace Mullins’ The Curse of Canaan or done any research in some of the history and ideas addressed therein? If so, what is your take on Eustace Mullins’ work?

        • thankgodimatheist April 1, 2010, 6:17 PM

          “And as for Hamas, they could afford to do anything they wanted if they would just stop spending their money for bombs to kill innocent Israelis. Books would be a lot more constructive.”
          ————————
          And out of the window goes any credibility one would care to give you for any of the points you raised, Frank..It’s amazing how much one single sentence can do to undermine a 1oo+ pages document..So it’s all about “hating the Jews”, right? There has never been any dispossession, uprooting or killing or that ever took place to justify any hostility, right? It’s all about “Jew hating”. It’s in their blood, if I’ve been correctly reading some shameless hasbarists lately..

      • Andy July 12, 2009, 7:33 PM

        Perhaps Mr. Luntz sought the counsel of Shelley Berkley (D-NV), whose view of the Palestinians is even more bigoted than that of Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, as difficult as that is to imagine.

        • Richard Silverstein July 12, 2009, 11:31 PM

          Yeah, she’s a piece of work. Can you imagine that she and Shelly Adelson, one of most extreme right of pro Israel supporters in the U.S., can’t stand ea. other. One must think the other isn’t pro-Israel enough.

    • David September 15, 2012, 3:45 PM

      Prophetic comments by two eminent Jews:

      Lessing J. Rosenwald, president of the American Council for Judaism, 1944: “The concept of a racial state – the Hitlerian concept- is repugnant to the civilized world, as witness the fearful global war in which we are involved. . . , I urge that we do nothing to set us back on the road to the past. To project at this time the creation of a Jewish state or commonwealth is to launch a singular innovation in world affairs which might well have incalculable consequences.”

      Albert Einstein, who also opposed the creation of a “Jewish state,” 1939: “There could be no greater calamity than a permanent discord between us and the Arab people. Despite the great wrong that has been done us [in the western world], we must strive for a just and lasting compromise with the Arab people…. Let us recall that in former times no people lived in greater friendship with us than the ancestors of these Arabs.”

    • james warren April 29, 2014, 4:13 PM

      I see a difference between influence and manipulation. The GOP talking points that suddenly appear like identical mushrooms in the wake of the latest political media uproar are either taken from you specifically, or from others who are following your same path. Neurolinguistic Programming–from which people such as yourself have perverted–was originally developed as an aid to psychological communication in patient therapies. In my view, using the technologies of NLP are not helpful and can even be dangerous when they are reduced and bent to the service of politics.

      But that’s just my opinion. I am always ready to be accountable for my own wrong-headedness, racism and hypocrisy.
      What I am saying here is based on my own feelings, information and beliefs.

  • Freidenker July 12, 2009, 2:18 AM

    As a Jewish (although atheist) Israeli with sympathy to the Left-wing peace-block cause, I found it absolutely painful to read this blog-post. Everything you write reeks of bias, making it almost impossible to accept at face-value, even though some of your arguments are substantiated, the endless chantings of “this is nonsense” make it very unreliable for a first reader.

    The things you write about are not evidently wrong to most people, they might seem like rubbish to you as you are cognizant of many facts the majority of readers aren’t aware of, but your insistence on displaying how ridiculous the arguments are to you make this post very unreliable in my eyes at first glance. Even though I have said sympathy, I’m aware that the battle between Left and Right is a political and worldview-battle.

    That said, both sides will often resort to employing logical fallacies (this post uses a lot of arguments from incredulity, hence my sense of skepticism) – this is not a battle between the truth against lies. This is your (our should I say, our) political agenda against theirs.

    People who want to occupy are not necessarily lying to themselves, and they often tell it like it is. I have a lot of questions, and this comment shows only my first impression. Since this is a lengthy first comment, I’ll let you reply to that first before I put on further questions (I am quite curious and would like to know more about the topic).

  • gene schulman July 12, 2009, 3:53 AM

    I can’t help but agree with what Freidenker says, Richard. You’re wasting your time doing battle with the likes of Frank Luntz. Neither he, nor the subject are worth it.

    I also wish you would stop deluding yourself about Obama and his administration. Can’t you yet see that he is in the same camp as the Luntz’s of this world?

  • MJ Rosenberg July 12, 2009, 5:28 AM

    Of course Luntz had Democratic input. The Israel Project’s raison d’etre is to show that, at the end of the day, Democrats and Republicans stand as one for the occupation. That, in fact, is the most pernicious thing about it.

    It holds that Al Franken and Eric Cantor are the same, Carl Levin and Norm Coleman are one because they are Jewish. (Forget the non-Jews involved. It is not about them).

    So basically it does not matter that Henry Waxman hates everything Eric Cantor and Frank Luntz stand for. Ultimately what matters is that they are all Jews and all on the same side.

    In the Israel Project’s world view, we are one. Our differences as Americans don’t matter because what matters is our ethnic identity (which unites us) not American issues which are trivial and ephemeral.

    • Richard Witty July 12, 2009, 5:40 AM

      I do identify with other Jews, as Jews. I regularly attend services (very eclectic ones), and we repeat “IF you keep my commandments, I will give you the rain in its time”, and identify the purpose of Jewish association as “to be a nation of priests” (transforming what is profane to holy, including from what is oppressive to what is just).

      The Chabad rabbi that I visit often describes that Jews have and have accepted a seed, a commitment, for that tikkun olam (all my relations), which I value highly.

      We differ in that when we open prayer with “I take upon myself the obligation to love my neighbor as myself” he is speaking primarily of Jews, and I think more universally (both relatively).

      The importance of dissent that continues to identify as Jewish, is the question of “how will I be Jewish”.

      So, I identify with the Jews of Israel, as part of my family of families. I want us to be the safest, happiest, present, and also fulfilling our accepted obligation to be model and active social transforming catalysts.

      I don’t see how that can happen by statements of contempt, whether by reactionaries or by dissenters.

      • Richard Witty July 12, 2009, 5:42 AM

        Nor by actions of contempt.

  • MJ Rosenberg July 13, 2009, 4:23 AM

    Frank Luntz is just a paid consultant. If the left paid him, he’d write the opposite playbook. You, Richard, do not get rich doing your work (in fact, it costs you money). Fact is that the consultants and the heads of the major “mainstream” organizations get rich off their “Zionism.” Nice racket.

  • knowbuddhau December 19, 2009, 2:01 PM

    Whoa, talk about coming late to the party. Wish I’d seen this last year, it’s exactly what I’m on about, only I’ve been calling it, poet that I am, by the neologism, myth-jacking.

    Jacking public opinion, with carefully scripted myths, is the state of the art in the manufacture of consent. But don’t take my word for it, skeptical reader, just look at recent events.

    Was our health care reform debate jacked by sincere, well reasoned arguments grounded in facts, or by myths?

    We were jacked to war in Iraq with mythical WMDs, the myths of which were themselves the most destructive weapons.

    And how ’bout those mythical Israeli WMDs that don’t exist but nevertheless number in the hundreds?

    How ’bout the myth of escalating war in Afghanistan because “they” attacked us from “there?”

    Jacking public opinion with carefully scripted myths seems to be the only game certain of our dear leaders know how to play. And when we catch on, like a casino full of card-counters, they’re doomed.

    See, by depending so much on deception, they’ve made truth, our invincible ally, their worst enemy. Good luck with that, Luntz!

  • Mary Hughes-Thompson April 1, 2010, 7:44 PM

    I noted their latest propaganda manual includes the importance of stressing Israel’s role in saving the lives of people in Haiti after the recent earthquake. No doubt one of the main reasons they did a fly-by there was for the purpose of boasting about their human rights successes.

  • Barry Weiss August 7, 2010, 12:24 PM

    [comment deleted for violation of comment rules prohibiting anti-Muslim racism]

  • PHILIPPE SOUCHET September 23, 2010, 8:40 AM

    I’m a goy, of course,and I’m proud of being, and I’m pagan,too.I’m laughing,reading your rough propaganda ! Will you please consider and count and added the millions of innocent peoples killed by the monotheism -in all forms as christian,jewish and muslims – along the ages ? Monotheism is the religion of death,lie and contempt of the others which think not in the same way,the political correct way, today .
    I prefer vote for life,for the green hills,for the deep forest and fresh sources.I give up you the desert,vast and waste,as a graveyard.Regards,but distant

  • C. Christine Fair January 26, 2011, 5:11 PM

    All I can say is “Thank you.” I saw their new commercial on t.v. and was utterly outraged by their message. My subsequent efforts to learn more about this dubious organization has done little to mitigate my disgust.

    Warmest
    CCF

  • sk8erBLN March 3, 2012, 1:43 PM

    as the newsweek pdf is gone you can find the doc here (PDF-File 4MB] http://www.4shared.com/office/ADfUFHnv/The_Israel_Projects_2009_GLOBA.html

    and here another guide for hasbara more focused on How To Defend Israel With Your Computer Feb 8, 2011 an easy guide (new version out soon!)

    http://www.standwithus.co.il/HowToDefendIsraelWithYourComputer.pdf

    and another important one can be found here

    ttp://www.middle-east-info.org/take/wujshasbara.pdf

  • sk8erBLN March 3, 2012, 1:44 PM

    sorry last link was broken

    and another important one can be found here
    http://www.middle-east-info.org/take/wujshasbara.pdf

  • Falastini May 27, 2012, 11:24 AM

    oh great work but are we gonna discuss our right of return ? I mean there is room for everbody ,right ?

  • Jaffiote November 30, 2012, 10:11 AM

    Did anybody from those Israelis pretending to be in love with peace or their masters/slaves , dare to pinpoint the real deadly historically unprecedented reason for this endless bloody conflict ? They care not, nor dare to declare that to create Israel, hundreds of thousands of innocent civilian Palestinians ( Muslims and Christians ) were uprooted and expelled from their homeland, denying their past, destroying their present and future for more than six decades ? Did anybody dare to ask those peaceful Israelis who did rob and occupy those Palestinians’ homes, belongings,farms,industries,businesses,colleges,schools,factories,all what they did own, construct and inherit for centuries from their ancestors ?? Would anybody accept to be suddenly thrown out of his home or business and homeland to become a helpless refugee living in camps dispersed in the four corners of the world? Historically many other nations were occupied as wars results, but were able to go back to their countries, except the Palestinians !! Somebody will claim that Palestine was given by God to his chosen people thousands of years ago !! Who can confirm that settlers imported from allover the world are those people’s descendants ? Even so which is impossible, this does not justify their right to delete Palestine from geography and Palestinians from history ! For example,what about Arabs who created Andalusia since few hundred years ago with an outstanding civilization in Spain & Europe? If any of the real descendants of those Andalusians, or any other Arab State claims re-establishing Andalusia again in Spain, what would be the worldwide reaction? That claimer will be accused of being nuts and should be kept in the nearest asylum !! Before establishing the Zionist state in Palestine, Jewish,Christian and Muslim Palestinians lived in harmony and cooperation in all social activities including inter-marriage. Why those who did never own a documentary proof of their relation to Palestine are given the right to live there, while Palestinians who still have their birth certificates,ownership legal documents and other uncontested proof are denied their right to return to their robbed homeland??Unless a just solution to this terrible catastrophe is implemented, peace will never prevail for anybody.

    • Richard Silverstein November 30, 2012, 1:07 PM

      While I’m sympathetic to most of your thoughts, the notion that groups uprooted from their ancestral homeland always return to them (except for Palestinians) is false. Would that it were so. History is littered with tribes & nations treated shabbily & permanently displaced or worse, exterminated.

      That in no way excuses or minimzes the injustice done to Palestinians. But we must acknowledge that human beings can be undiscrminating in their cruelty.

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