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Is Israel hiding the facts? “The secret report” by PATRICK COCKBURN

The secret report that helps Israel hide facts

The slickness of Israel’s spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by the pollster Frank Luntz

Israeli spokesmen have their work cut out explaining how they have killed more than 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza, most of them civilians, compared with just three civilians killed in Israel by Hamas rocket and mortar fire.

But on television and radio and in newspapers, Israeli government spokesmen such as Mark Regev appear slicker and less aggressive than their predecessors, who were often visibly indifferent to how many Palestinians were killed.

There is a reason for this enhancement of the PR skills of Israeli spokesmen.

Going by what they say, the playbook they are using is a professional, well-researched and confidential study on how to influence the media and public opinion in America and Europe.

Written by the expert Republican pollster and political strategist Dr Frank Luntz, the study was commissioned 5 years ago by a group called The Israel Project, with offices in the US and Israel, for use by those “who are on the front lines of fighting the media war for Israel”.

Every one of the 112 pages in the booklet is marked “not for distribution or publication” and it is easy to see why.

The Luntz report, officially entitled “The Israel project’s 2009 Global Language Dictionary, was leaked almost immediately to Newsweek Online, but its true importance has seldom been appreciated. It should be required reading for everybody, especially journalists, interested in any aspect of Israeli policy because of its “dos and don’ts” for Israeli spokesmen.

These are highly illuminating about the gap between what Israeli officials and politicians really believe, and what they say, the latter shaped in minute detail by polling to determine what Americans want to hear.

Certainly, no journalist interviewing an Israeli spokesman should do so without reading this preview of many of the themes and phrases employed by Mr Regev and his colleagues.

The booklet is full of meaty advice about how they should shape their answers for different audiences.

For example, the study says that “Americans agree that Israel ‘has a right to defensible borders’. But it does you no good to define exactly what those borders should be. Avoid talking about borders in terms of pre- or post-1967, because it only serves to remind Americans of Israel’s military history. Particularly on the left this does you harm. For instance, support for Israel’s right to defensible borders drops from a heady 89% to under 60% when you talk about it in terms of 1967.”

How about the right of return for Palestinian refugees who were expelled or fled in 1948 and in the following years, and who are not allowed to go back to their homes?

Here Dr Luntz has subtle advice for spokesmen, saying that “the right of return is a tough issue for Israelis to communicate effectively because much of Israeli language sounds like the ‘separate but equal’ words of the 1950s segregationists and the 1980s advocates of Apartheid. The fact is, Americans don’t like, don’t believe and don’t accept the concept of ‘separate but equal’.”

So how should spokesmen deal with what the booklet admits is a tough question? They should call it a “demand”, on the grounds that Americans don’t like people who make demands.

“Then say ‘Palestinians aren’t content with their own state. Now they’re demanding territory inside Israel’.” Other suggestions for an effective Israeli response include saying that the right of return might become part of a final settlement “at some point in the future”.

VIDEO: THE LATEST FROM GAZA

Dr Luntz notes that Americans as a whole are fearful of mass immigration into the US, so mention of “mass Palestinian immigration” into Israel will not go down well with them. If nothing else works, say that the return of Palestinians would “derail the effort to achieve peace”.

The Luntz report was written in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead in December 2008 and January 2009, when 1,387 Palestinians and nine Israelis were killed.

There is a whole chapter on “isolating Iran-backed Hamas as an obstacle to peace”.

Unfortunately, come the current Operation Protective Edge, which began on 6 July, there was a problem for Israeli propagandists because Hamas had quarrelled with Iran over the war in Syria and had no contact with Tehran.

Friendly relations have been resumed only in the past few days – thanks to the Israeli invasion.

Frank Luntz

Frank Luntz

Much of Dr Luntz’s advice is about the tone and presentation of the Israeli case. He says it is absolutely crucial to exude empathy for Palestinians:

“Persuadable people won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Show Empathy for BOTH sides!” This may explain why a number of Israeli spokesman are almost lachrymose about the plight of Palestinians being pounded by Israeli bombs and shells.

In a sentence in bold type, underlined and with capitalisation, Dr Luntz says that Israeli spokesmen or political leaders must never, ever justify “the deliberate slaughter of innocent women and children” and they must aggressively challenge those who accuse Israel of such a crime.

Israeli spokesmen struggled to be true to this prescription when 16 Palestinians were killed in a UN shelter in Gaza last Thursday.

There is a list of words and phrases to be used and a list of those to be avoided.

Schmaltz is at a premium: “The best way, the only way, to achieve lasting peace is to achieve mutual respect.”

Above all, Israel’s desire for peace with the Palestinians should be emphasised at all times because this what Americans overwhelmingly want to happen.

But any pressure on Israel to actually make peace can be reduced by saying “one step at a time, one day at a time”, which will be accepted as “a commonsense approach to the land-for-peace equation”.

Dr Luntz cites as an example of an “effective Israeli sound bite” one which reads: “I particularly want to reach out to Palestinian mothers who have lost their children. No parent should have to bury their child.”

The study admits that the Israeli government does not really want a two-state solution, but says this should be masked because 78 per cent of Americans do. Hopes for the economic betterment of Palestinians should be emphasised.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is quoted with approval for saying that it is “time for someone to ask Hamas: what exactly are YOU doing to bring prosperity to your people”. The hypocrisy of this beggars belief: it is the seven-year-old Israeli economic siege that has reduced the Gaza to poverty and misery.

On every occasion, the presentation of events by Israeli spokesmen is geared to giving Americans and Europeans the impression that Israel wants peace with the Palestinians and is prepared to compromise to achieve this, when all the evidence is that it does not.

Though it was not intended as such, few more revealing studies have been written about modern Israel in times of war and peace.

Mohamad Al Jabban posted on FB

Ansam, aged 9, with the body of her 4 year-old brother, Sameh Jned, before his funeral in the Jabaliya Refugee Camp, North Gaza Strip.

Sameh was killed by Israeli tank fire in the garden of his family home.

READ MORE
WHAT IF IT HAD BEEN 35 PALESTINIAN DEAD, AND 800 ISRAELI?
WHY I’M ON THE BRINK OF BURNING MY ISRAELI PASSPORT
AYELET SHAKED: MY RESPONSE TO MIRA BAR-HILLEL

Gallup poll: Views of Israeli Actions 

Troubling Signs for Israel

In New Poll of Americans

Mohamad Al Jabban posted on FB:

More hope is coming from the new generation in the US.
This is the first time that the US and the world are watching the cruel injustice live, though Israel atrocity has been there continuously since the massacres of 1948.
Israel could dominate traditional media for 7 decades, but is loosing the war of social media. #USA #Israel #Palestine #Justice

Check the difference between men and female, white and non-white, age, and education. Crazy!

More hope is coming from the new generation in the US. This is the first time that the US and the world are watching the cruel injustice live, though Israel atrocity has been there continuously since the massacres of 1948. Israel could dominate traditional media for 7 decades, but is loosing the war of social media.</p><br /><br /><br />
<p>#USA #Israel #Palestine #Justice

  • I am trying to find a graph I saw back in 2008 suggesting a decrease of positive view of Israel among academics/grads/post-grads over the years, but I cannot find it, will look for it after the mass today.
    Solicited, then rejected by The New York Times – Quickly share before it’s taken down!
    Blumenthal explained how The New York Times commissioned the 11-minute video, but after the paper’s editors saw it, refused to publish it: I was asked to submit something by The New York Times op docs, a new section on the website that published short video documentaries.
    I am known for short video documentaries about the right wing in the US, and extremism in Israel. They solicited a video from me, and when I didn’t produce it in time, they called me for it, saying they wanted it.
    So I sent them a video I produced with my colleague, David Sheen, an Israeli journalist who is covering the situation of non-Jewish Africans in Israel more extensively than any journalist in the world.
    We put together some shocking footage of pogroms against African communities in Tel Aviv, and interviews with human rights activists.
    I thought it was a well-done documentary about a situation very few Americans were familiar with. We included analysis. We tailored it to their style, and of course it was rejected without an explanation after being solicited.
    I sent it to some other major websites and they have not even responded to me, when they had often solicited articles from me in the past.
    Blumenthal, author of the bestselling and widely promoted 2009 book Republican Gomorrah, also spoke about the difficulty he has had getting any mainstream media attention for his new book Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel.
    Just like this video, Blumenthal’s new book offers an unflinching look at the racist reality of Israel that America’s establishment media simply does not have the guts to confront.
    Length: 10:55

Troubling Signs for Israel in New Poll of Americans

Support Coalition Shifts — Democrats and Young Split Evenly

Shifting Support: A pro-Israel demonstrator attends support rally in New York. The coalition of support  for Israel is shifting, a new poll reveals.

GETTY IMAGES
Shifting Support: A pro-Israel demonstrator attends support rally in New York. The coalition of support for Israel is shifting, a new poll reveals.

Hody Nemes Published this July 24, 2014

Despite overall strong backing from Americans for Israel’s war in Gaza, a new poll includes troubling signs for supporters of the Jewish state.

Democrats, liberals, young people and urban dwellers are all split more or less evenly on the war in the new poll by CNN and ORC International, even though 57% of the public backs Israel.

“Under the surface, we see that the feelings among Democrats and liberals are divided down the middle about whether Israel’s actions are justified,”said Steven M. Cohen, a Jewish sociologist at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

Democrats’ mixed feelings have important ramifications, according to Cohen, and “may bode ill” for Americans’ future support of the Jewish state.

“Democrats and liberals are critical here, because frankly, they’re the people who are running our government,” Cohen said.

But not everyone sees cause for concern — or evidence of a changing support base for Israel.

“I don’t think there’s any fracturing of the [pro-Israel] coalition,” said Mark Mellman, CEO of the Mellman Group, a Democratic-leaning polling firm. He noted that Israel has enjoyed overwhelming backing in both houses of Congress, which have unanimously passed resolutions supporting Israel’s right to defend itself.

The fact that some Democratic voters don’t support the war strikes Mellman as unsurprising, given party loyalists’ strong anti-war bent

“Look, it’s nothing new that Democrats are more questioning of any kind of conflict,” he said. “[They] have a much higher bar for military action.”

The poll shows strong – though not overwhelming – general support for Israel’s military campaign against Hamas. Fifty-seven percent of Americans say the Israel’s operation is justified, while just over a third of Americans (34%) disagree.

Previous wars in Gaza in 2011 and 2008-2009 earned similar levels of support from Americans, with 57% and 63% support respectively.

Less welcome news for Israel can be found in its changing favorability ratings, which have fallen 12 percentage points since February, from 72% to 60% – though only 20% of Americans view the Palestinian Authority favorably.

Additionally, nearly 4 in 10 Americans say Israel is using “too much force” in Gaza. (Force? How about total destruction of infrastructure and people?)

Israel’s general favorability is also lower among Democrats, with 39% of Democrats viewing Israel mostly or very favorably versus 67% of Republicans.

The CNN poll did not present data on Jewish Americans’ opinion of the current conflict, though Cohen suggested that Democrat’s mixed feelings could have ramifications for Jewish opinion, since Democrats are “the people who tend to shape the views of American Jews.”

Mellman disagreed, saying there’s no evidence Jews plan to desert Israel anytime soon.

“There’s really just no way of knowing from these polls,” Mellman said. “[But] I think we can say based on past evidence that the Jewish community lines up pretty solidly behind Israel’s actions.”

A recent study by the Pew Research Center argued that the partisan gap is growing over time.

“[D]ating back to the late 1970s, the partisan gap in Mideast sympathies has never been wider,” the authors wrote.

The widening gap, however, is mostly a product of Republicans’ increasing support, not a loss of Democrats’. Although Republican support for Israel has long been higher than Democrats, it was only in the mid-2000s that the Republican numbers began to really take off.

Some see this widening gap as simply a symptom of the broader polarization of numerous political issues that occurred in America over the last decade or more. “Starting in the early 2000s is where we see an intensification of political polarization on other questions,” said Alec Tyson, a senior researcher for the Pew Research Center.

Evangelicals’ increasing love for Israel may also play a role in the divide.

In the Pew survey, 70% of white Evangelical Protestants said they sympathized more with Israel than the Palestinians, compared to 46% of Catholics, and just 36% of religiously unaffiliated Americans.

Contact Hody Nemes at nemes@forward.com or on Twitter @hodifly

Related

Read more: http://forward.com/articles/202724/troubling-signs-for-israel-in-new-poll-of-american/#ixzz38gIZ5yrT

Pause from killing children? What for?

For how long? 24 hours?

It’s more fun shooting at sitting duck kids

SLIDE SHOW|13 Photos

Surveying the Damage in Gaza

Surveying the Damage in Gaza

Credit Wissam Nassar for The New York Times

JERUSALEM — When a temporary cease-fire began on Saturday morning, Akram Qassim joined the throngs of Palestinians who emerged from their homes and temporary shelters. But when he reached his extended family’s three-story building, he found only a crater left by an Israeli airstrike.

“I expected that maybe a shell had hit it and caused some damage,” Mr. Qassim said. “But this is an earthquake.

Saturday’s cease-fire provided the first daylong relief from violence for civilians on both sides of the conflict since the start of the 19-day war between Israel and Palestinian militants.

The 12-hour lull granted people an ability to move (except to a Palestinian village in Gaza) that is still under attack) with Israelis visiting their troops and Palestinians discovering damaged neighborhoods and dead bodies.

More than 140 bodies were recovered across Gaza on Saturday — including 21 members of one family — raising the Palestinian death toll to 1,139, most of them civilians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. On the Israeli side, 42 soldiers and three civilians have been killed.

Graphic: The Toll in Gaza and Israel, Day by Day

On Saturday evening, Israel’s top ministers decided to extend the lull for 24 hours, but said Israeli troops would continue their efforts to destroy tunnels. Palestinian fighters renewed their rocket fire at Israel, and Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, said it rejected any cease-fire that did not include the withdrawal of Israeli troops.

The vast destruction in communities across Gaza shocked residents who had fled their homes, and reactions to it could play a role in negotiations over the terms of a longer cease-fire.

Israel has said its offensive is intended to halt rocket fire by Palestinian fighters and to destroy the extensive network of tunnels — some of them concrete-reinforced — that militants use for combat, smuggling, and sneaking fighters into Israel.

This is likely to mean that the Israelis will insist on continuing strict border controls on materials that could be used to build more tunnels.

But Hamas is seeking an agreement that would ease the movement of goods into Gaza from Israel and Egypt — a goal it seeks desperately and may fight to obtain.

“If there is an agreement for a cease-fire, that’s great,” said Mohammed Abu Jama in Al Zanna, an area of central Gaza where power lines had been blown down, an abandoned Israeli military trailer stood in the street and dozens of houses bore the scars of intense clashes.

But Mr. Abu Jama, whose own house was damaged, said any agreement had to include an opening of the crossings that tightly control all movement in and out of Gaza.

And if there is no agreement, we want the resistance to continue fighting,” he said.

Visits to Al Zanna and two other front-line neighborhoods on Saturday revealed destruction that in places stretched for blocks, with walls punctured by artillery shells, buildings reduced to rubble and streets erased by yawning craters.

The destruction in the Shujaiya neighborhood of eastern Gaza City, site of some of the worst fighting, was so extensive that in some places it was impossible to spot an undamaged building.

Scores of buildings, including a hospital and a mosque, had also been damaged or destroyed here in the northern town of Beit Hanoun.

As news of the pause spread though Gaza on Saturday morning, Mariam Fayyad joined the crowds rushing to the area. Many spoke on cellphones with relatives elsewhere, wailing when they received reports of their destroyed homes.

At one point, two men in black face masks who were carrying assault rifles approached from the opposite direction, suggesting that fighters were using the pause to change positions.

Entering her white, three-bedroom house surrounded by fruit trees, Ms. Fayyad let out a wail and ran from room to room, inspecting the damage. Artillery shells had punched holes in the walls and ceiling, doors had been blown from their hinges and rubble covered the floor.

The metal bathtub, crumpled like a tin can, sat in the kitchen.

Photo

Israeli civilians and soldiers used a bathroom as  a bomb shelter during a rocket attack near the border with Gaza on Saturday. Credit Uriel Sinai for The New York Times

“All the money we had went to this, everything we tired ourselves out for,” said her husband, Ibrahim. Both are teachers and had built the house from scratch, moving in two years ago, they said.

Tragedy also struck the al-Najjar family, whose house in central Gaza was struck by an Israeli airstrike before dawn on Saturday, killing 21 people.

“I was on the balcony when the hit came, and I don’t remember anything after that until I woke up in the hospital,” said Hussein al-Najjar, who lost his father, mother, one brother, two sisters and two sons, ages 1 and 6, in the strike.

Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a spokesman for the Israeli military, could not explain the airstrike some 19 hours after it happened.

“We’ve been unable to determine the target at this time,” he said late Saturday, adding that militants in the area could have fired antitank missiles, drawing an Israeli response.

Israel says that it strives to avoid killing civilians and blames Hamas for putting them in danger by fighting from residential areas and storing weapons there.

Israeli troops remained in place across Gaza during the lull and continued to search for tunnels but did not advance or engage with Palestinian fighters.

The Israeli authorities said that they coordinated with international organizations to evacuate wounded Palestinians, distribute food and repair utilities?

By Saturday morning, Israeli forces had found 31 tunnels and destroyed 15, Colonel Lerner said. (Why unable to destroy all found tunnels?)

In southern Israel, where most of the rockets fired by Gaza militants have fallen during the war, the lull allowed residents who had spent recent weeks rushing to shelters to venture out.

People visited beaches in Ashdod and Ashkelon, Israel Radio reported, and television news contrasted video footage of crowded cafes on Saturday with that from last week when the establishments were empty.

“I was very hesitant, because we know who we’re dealing with; in the end I decided to go out and see if people were around,” a beach-goer identified only as Sigalit said in a radio interview. “It’s fun, but there is still some fear. Let’s hope it continues so that we can enjoy ourselves a bit more.

At Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, a barber gave haircuts to wounded soldiers. In Maslul, a small community not far from a staging area for the Gaza operation, residents set up 10 barbecue grills to serve the troops, along with showers and a karaoke corner, Israel Radio reported.

Back in Gaza, a group of men and a bulldozer worked to remove bodies from a house that had been flattened in an overnight airstrike.

“We have pulled out six so far and there are three left,” said Mohammed Nasser, who had relatives among the dead.

As the bulldozer dug, one of the dead was found with a Kalashnikov rifle at his side. Cries of “God is great!” erupted from the crowd as the body was carried to an ambulance.

 


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