Didi Remez translates a Channel 10 news report of a Frank Luntz survey leaked to the prime minister’s office about the Gaza flotilla attack. I reported here earlier on an e mail blast disseminated by The Israel Project’s director which warned that Luntz’s survey would be disheartening to supporters of the pro-Israel advocacy group. Channel 10 now has the goods. Here is Remez’s summary of the results followed by excerpts of the TV news report:
- 56% of Americans agree with the claim that there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza;
- 43% of Americans agree with the claim that people in Gaza are starving;
- [Only] 34% of Americans support the Israeli operation against the Flotilla;
- [Only] 20% of Americans “felt support” for Israel following announcement of easing of Gaza closure.
Criticism of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s current PR messages and Israeli PR in general comes from the international élite of media consultants and pollsters and from the mouth of Frank Luntz…He was asked by…The Israel Project to check the opinions of the American public on the messages Israel issued to the world during and after the flotilla events. The result is a harsh document that primarily criticizes the media strategy of the person considered Israel’s number one propagandist in the world, Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Netanyahu: Once again Israel faces hypocrisy and a biased rush to judgment.
Chico Menashe: Every time Israeli speakers begin with accusing the international community, writes Luntz, they lose their audience [emphasis mine]. For example, Netanyahu’s comments after the flotilla about the world hypocrisy were rejected by most of the American participants who listened to them. The findings were presented last night to senior members of Netanyahu’s Bureau. Luntz checked the opinions with focus groups…He warns of a dangerous slide in the public opinion of the only country considered pro-Israeli…The American public increasingly hesitates to accept arguments that support Israeli positions.
Ehud Barak: There is no hunger in Gaza and no humanitarian crisis.
Netanyahu: There’s no shortage of food, there’s no shortage of medicine, there’s no shortage of other goods.
Chico Menashe: Luntz says Israel must immediately stop using the argument that there is no hunger and no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. He says this fatally destroys Israel’s credibility in light of the images on the television screens. Israel must admit that there is a problem…to gain the listeners’ sympathy [emphasis mine]. Luntz finds the troubling figure that 56% of participants agree with the claim that there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and no less astonishing is that 43% of participants from the American public agree with the claim that people in Gaza are starving. But even lifting the closure that was supposed to improve Israel’s image missed the opportunity, according to Luntz.
Netanyahu: Yesterday an important decision was made by the security cabinet. Its meaning is clear. On the one hand, allowing civilian goods into Gaza, and on the other hand maintaining the military blockade of Hamas.
Chico Menashe: The statement by Netanyahu’s bureau of lifting the closure missed the opportunity to gain support in international public opinion [emphasis mine]. Only 20% of the Americans polled felt support of Israel following the statement. According to Luntz, this is the summary of the flotilla damage in American public opinion: Only 34% of the American public support the Israeli operation against the flotilla, and he says that is a dangerously low percentage.
Though Luntz didn’t specifically poll on this subject, I’d imagine Americans would be equally unpersuaded by Israel’s new, more lenient rules concerning importation of items into Gaza. As human rights activist Steffen Shwartz notes in an e mail to me: this report says nothing about exports from Gaza or movement of human beings. If Gaza is ever to have any freedom and economic development it will need both. Israel pointedly has not offered to liberalize measures concerning either. Something Barack may want to discuss with Bibi tomorrow at the White House?
Similary, Turkey’s foreign minister just dropped a bombshell on the eve of Bibi’s White House love fest: Turkey threatens to cut off all diplomatic relations with Israel unless the latter agrees to apologize for the attack, compensate victims and an international investigation of the incident.
Looks like Bibi and Barack will have a few things to talk about in a few hours when they sit down together.
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- Israel confirms new Gaza policy (news.bbc.co.uk)