Paul J. Balles
September 16, 2009
Paul J. Balles views a major public relations manual for Israel lobbyists. Written by Dr Frank Luntz, a US Republican political consultant and pollster, on behalf of The Israel Project, a US media advocacy group, it teaches pro-Israel propagandists how to hoodwink people about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, how to silence critics and how to avoid making statements that produce negative reactions.
More than 50 years ago, Vance Packard shook the commercial world with the publication of his book The Hidden Persuaders. It was, as the book jacket claims, “A revealing, often shocking explanation of new techniques of research and methods of persuasion.”
Packard revealed, “If people couldn’t discriminate reasonably, marketers reasoned, they should be assisted in discriminating unreasonably, in some easy, warm, emotional way.”
Much merchandizing success, according to Packard, “…hinged, to a large extent, upon successfully manipulating or coping with our guilt feelings, fears, anxieties, hostilities, loneliness feelings, inner tensions”.
Packard raised serious questions of morality related to the “people-manipulating activities of persuaders … and their ability to contact millions of us simultaneously”, giving them “the power to do good or evil on a scale never before possible in a very short time”.
Among the most evil of the hidden persuaders are the political propagandists. Their “evil” stems from the fact that they have a political agenda, which discriminates unreasonably and is designed to manipulate emotions.
The manipulative approach to politics is, of course, not a discovery of the 1950s, or even the 20th century. Napoleon Bonaparte set up a press bureau that he called his Bureau of Public Opinion. Its function was “to manufacture political trends to order”.
Just as Napoleon Bonaparte believed that “public opinion is a mysterious and invisible power, to which everything must yield”, Niccolò Machiavelli, Italian author of The Prince, described the arts with which a ruling prince can maintain control of his realm.
In a document published by The Israel Project entitled “The Israel Project’s 2009 Global Language Dictionary”, Dr Frank Luntz unmasks a modern-day propaganda campaign that would have made Napoleon and Machiavelli proud. He writes:
There is NEVER, EVER, any justification for the deliberate slaughter of innocent women and children. NEVER. The primary Palestinian public relations goal is to demonstrate that the so-called “hopelessness of the oppressed Palestinians” is what causes them to go out and kill children. This must be challenged immediately, aggressively, and directly.
The emotional appeal to saving children works, but the appeal is based on two lies:
(1) that Palestinians generally (not only suicide bomber extremists) are the ones who kill children, while Israelis (not individual extremists, but Israel’s armed forces) never slaughter Palestinian children.
(2) The second falsehood is that the Palestinians have a public relations goal that must be challenged when, in fact, the Palestinians have proven to be hopeless and goalless when it comes to public relations. Unlike Frank Luntz, the Palestinians have no effective PR voices. They can’t even get their ambassador in the UK to speak out to the British public about Israel’s lies and propaganda.
Next, Luntz attempts to sound reasonable by speaking of acceptable disagreements about economics or politics against fundamental principles of civilized people. The evil allusion here is that the Palestinians are the uncivilized people who target Israeli children.
“We may disagree about politics and we may disagree about economics. 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,” writes Luntz.
The entire passage, again appealing unreasonably to emotions, makes the pretence that Israel did not target innocent women and children for death with their murderous indiscriminate bombing and missile attacks on Gaza against a huge civilian population of women and children.
However, distorted propaganda about children isn’t enough for Luntz. This is but one part of a page out of 114 pages devoted to this manual for distribution to thousands of propagandists for Israel.
Advancing only as far as page nine, the guided Israel promoters will find “Words that work” (sections that are actually throughout the book). Here’s what Luntz has to say about Gaza:
Israel made painful sacrifices and took a risk to give peace a chance. They voluntarily removed over 9,000 settlers from Gaza and parts of the West Bank, abandoning homes, schools, businesses, and places of worship in the hopes of renewing the peace process.
How generous he makes the Israelis appear, when in fact the removal of Jewish settlers from Gaza had nothing to do with giving peace a chance. As the Israeli Yossi Alpher points out, removal of the settlers gave a demographic advantage to Israel. He says, “no longer are Jewish and Arab populations mixed there in a manner that points to a single binational state as the solution”.
In other words, Ariel Sharon could close the borders, imprison Gazans, hoping they will simply be forced to leave by starvation, murder fishermen and initiate military operations whenever they’re not involved in attacking Lebanon to the north, to slaughter more Hamas women and children.
Then Luntz adds more “Words that work” for the indoctrination of his readers – Israeli propagandists:
Despite making an overture for peace by withdrawing from Gaza, Israel continues to face terrorist attacks, including rocket attacks and drive-by shootings of innocent Israelis. Israel knows that for a lasting peace, they must be free from terrorism and live with defensible borders.
As mentioned earlier, withdrawal from Gaza had nothing to do with an “overture for peace”. The rocket attacks have been a response to being locked into an open-air prison; and they’re aimed at land stolen by Israel. The “drive-by shootings of innocent Israelis” are figments of Luntz’s imagination.
The “free from terrorism and live with defensible borders” line is the overworked motto that twists the truth in the continuing belief that if repeated often enough it will be believed.
No matter how often the propagandists repeat this mantra, the truth is that a few resistance fighters from Hamas have lobbed ineffective rockets against a well-supplied army of Israel’s state terrorists; and the borders they want to defend are on land stolen from the Palestinians.
One might wish that the training in how to spread Israeli propaganda would stop there. If the Palestinians were up to the task, they might counter the lies with what they know of the history and suffering of Palestinians under occupation. Unfortunately, those with the linguistic ability to cope with the Israeli propaganda machine worry about endangering themselves and their families by speaking the truth.
Those who can only speak Arabic fluently are often busy fighting tribal wars within (Gazans vs. the Palestinian Authority), and they can’t compete with Israel’s skilled English speakers or against the organized promotional efforts Israel makes with Americans and Europeans.
Making the task of exposing the lies and deceit exceptionally difficult, Luntz’s propaganda tract, which unravels advice about the “how-to” of Israeli propaganda for 114 pages, seems Herculean to say the least.
Luntz offers advice about things like “Americans want a team to cheer for. Let the public know GOOD things about Israel.” He follows that with “Draw direct parallels between Israel and America – including the need to defend against terrorism.”
He tells his readers to make salient comparisons between Israel and America: “The language of Israel is the language of America: ‘democracy’, ‘freedom’, ‘security’, and ‘peace'”.
Even while Israel is throwing Arabs out of their homes in East Jerusalem to make room for Jews, Luntz repeats the boast about how “Israel, America’s ally, is a democracy in the Middle East”. If he reported the truth about the so-called democracy in Israel, he would reveal how it’s really a bigoted apartheid state.
The book is full of charts showing just how effective Israel’s propaganda campaign has been. Not only do Americans believe that Israel is America’s closest ally in the Middle East, but that they both share the same values.
Another chart shows that 58 per cent of Americans believe that the US should support Israel, while only 9 per cent believe that they should support Palestinians. Even when coaching others in how to propagandize, Luntz couldn’t resist the revealing boast about how effective their PR work has been.
The entire screed utilizes all the tricks available to a clever wordsmith: how to use rhetorical questions to silence others, how to pretend that you’re sympathetic with the people but not their evil leaders, how to avoid making statements that produce negative reactions.
All of that came from the first of 18 chapters. Several other chapters, especially on “words that work”, talk about settlements, Israel’s so-called right to self-defence, Hamas, and tackling a nuclear Iran will be taken up in coming exposures.
Paul J. Balles is a retired American university professor and freelance writer who has lived in the Middle East for many years. For more information, see http://www.pballes.com.