How low will Israel stoop to win the propaganda war?
By Stuart Littlewood | September 15, 2009
“The Israel Project”, a US media advocacy group, has produced a revised training manual to help the worldwide Zionist movement win the propaganda war, keep their ill-gotten territorial gains and persuade international audiences to accept that their crimes are necessary and conform to “shared values” between Israel and the civilized West.
It’s a clever document.
The manual teaches how to justify the slaughter, the ethnic cleansing, the land-grabbing, the cruelty and the blatant disregard for international law and UN resolutions, and make it all smell sweeter with a liberal squirt of the aerosol of persuasive language. It is designed to hoodwink us ignorant and gullible Americans and Europeans into believing that we actually share values with the racist regime in Israel and that its abominable behaviour is therefore deserving of our support.
Israel is hoping for a public relations massacre. The other side – the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization – don’t take communications seriously and have neglected to correct Israeli distortion. They are happy, it seems, for Israel’s one-sided definitions to prevail, which of course makes the task for Israel so much easier. This latest propaganda offensive is potentially the “coup de grace” to finish off the tormented Palestinians. See it here.
And the manual will no doubt serve as a communications primer for the army of cyber-scribblers that Israel’s Ministry of Dirty Tricks is recruiting to spread Zionism’s poison across the internet.
This quote at the beginning sets the tone: “Remember, it’s not what you say that counts. It’s what people hear.”
Top priority: demonize Hamas
The manual’s numerous messages are aimed at the mass of “persuadables”, primarily in America but also in the UK. The strategy from the start is to isolate the democratically-elected Hamas and to rob the resistance movement and the Palestinian population of their human rights.
- “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. Right now, many Americans sympathize with the plight of the Palestinians, and that sympathy will increase if you fail to differentiate the people from their leaders.”
The plight of the Palestinians under Israel’s heel was an international concern long before Hamas appeared on the scene.
But this is familiar ground. We scorned George Bush and Tony Blair and had to differentiate between them and their respective peoples. We now have to do the same with Barack Obama and Gordon Brown. We are tired of having to make that same differentiation between the Israeli people and the dreadful leaders they produce.
- “ISRAEL’S RIGHT TO DEFENSIBLE BORDERS: With more than three years of violent history since Israel’s agreement to withdraw from Gaza and portions of the West Bank [sic], Americans have had time to take stock of the situation and form opinions. The big picture: they believe that Hamas’s leadership of Gaza has made Israel and the region less safe, while some are more receptive to what they perceive as a moderate approach in the West Bank by Mahmoud Abbas. Based on these experiences, they are willing to grant Israel more leeway in resisting calls to give more land for more peace.”
Here we clearly see the motive for demonizing Hamas – Israel wants more leeway to continue its land-grabs and other criminal activities.
- “If… If… If… Then”: Put the burden on Hamas to make the first move for peace by using If’s (and don’t forget to finish with a hard then to show Israel is a willing peace partner). “If Hamas reforms… If Hamas recognize our right to exist… If Hamas renounces terrorism… If Hamas supports international peace agreements… then we are willing to make peace today.”
How one-sided and daft can you get? Substitute Israel for Hamas.
Words that work
The manual sets out numerous examples of “words that work” – supposedly.
- “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.”
No mention here of the billions of tax dollars Israel takes from the US and spends on munitions to obliterate and vaporize its neighbours.
- “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?”
Hamas and Hezbollah are only regarded as terrorists by the White House and Tel Aviv and by US-Israeli stooges and flag-wavers in Westminster and elsewhere.
In Executive Order 13224 – “BLOCKING PROPERTY AND PROHIBITING TRANSACTIONS WITH PERSONS WHO COMMIT, THREATEN TO COMMIT, OR SUPPORT TERRORISM” – Bush used this definition: “The term “terrorism” means an activity that –
(i) involves a violent act or an act dangerous to human life, property, or infrastructure; and
(ii) appears to be intended —
(A) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(B) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(C) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, kidnapping, or hostage-taking.”
It describes the antics of the US and Israel perfectly.
- “There is NEVER, EVER, any justification for the deliberate slaughter of innocent women and children. NEVER… 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.”
Quite so. Where does that leave Israel, which recently killed 320 children in Gaza and 773 civilians, including 109 women? From 2000 (the start of the second Intifada – the Palestinian urising against the Israeli occupation) up to the end of last year Israel had slaughtered 4,936 Palestinians in their homeland, including 952 children, according to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. In the same period Palestinians killed 490 Israelis in Israel including only 84 children. So, Israel’s kill-rate is at least 10 to 1, and rising since the blitzkrieg on Gaza.
Iran-backed or US-backed – take your pick
- “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? Israel was attacked with thousands of rockets from Iran-backed Palestinian terrorists in Gaza. What should Israel have done to protect her children?’”
Palestinians too have a right to defend themselves. Hamas was the popular choice of Palestinians at the last election and is entitled under international law to take up arms against an illegal occupier and invader. If it is supported by Iran, so what? Israel is extravagantly funded and supplied by the US. Here’s part of their begging-bowl “Military Aid Speech”:
- “Israel makes the request for military assistance out of self-defense. As a democracy, they have the right and the responsibility to protect our borders. As a democracy, they have the right and the responsibility to protect their citizens.
- “Israel does not ask for US troops to protect itself. It does not ask for a single American soldier to protect its borders. It only asks for the funds for them to protect themselves. They need the equipment so that their own troops can ensure the safety of their civilian population through this gathering conflict with the enemies of democracy.
- “They didn’t ask to have our nation built in range of Iranian missiles. They didn’t ask that their nation be a focal point for religious extremists who have declared war on the West and on democracy.
- “But they are, and they need your help.”
And here’s the rationale behind it:
- “Americans fundamentally believe that a democracy has a right to protect its people and its borders. And while Americans don’t want to increase foreign aid in a time of significant budgetary deficits and painful spending cuts, there is one and only one argument that will work for Israel (in four easy steps):
(1) As a democracy, Israel has the right and the responsibility to defend its borders and protect its people.
(2) Terrorist groups, including Iran-backed Hezbollah and Hamas, continue to pose a direct threat to Israeli security and have repeatedly taken innocent Israeli lives.
(3) Israel is America’s one and only true ally in the region. In these particularly unstable and dangerous times, Israel should not be forced to go it alone.
(4) With America’s financial assistance, Israel can defend its borders, protect its people, and provide invaluable assistance to the American effort against the war against terrorism.”
It’s evident that Americans don’t believe in democracy enough to allow Palestinian democracy to flourish.
- “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 are no rockets coming out of the West Bank, so why is the security fence still there – and still being built? Why are the occupation troops still there? Why are hundreds of checkpoints still there? Why is Israel still stealing land, demolishing Palestinian homes and building settlements there?
- “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.
Reason Two: The speaker that is perceived as being most for PEACE will win the debate. Every time someone makes the plea for peace, the reaction is positive. If you want to regain the public relations advantage, peace should be at the core of whatever message you wish to convey.”
Israel has never met its peace agreement obligations. It doesn’t want peace – every action is directed at keeping the conflict going until the Israelis have stolen enough land and established enough ‘facts on the ground’ – Jews-only settlements, highways, disconnected Palestinian bantustans – to enable them to redraw the map to suit their expansionist agenda and make the occupation PERMANENT.
Gaza in a vice
- “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. 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.”
Israel never left. It still occupies Gazan airspace, coastal waters and airwaves, and controls all borders except Rafah where it nevertheless exerts a veto. Israel has Gaza in a vice, which is crushing the tiny enclave’s economy, starving its 1.5 million citizens and creating a huge humanitarian crisis in an attempt to bring the elected government to its knees.
- “Draw direct parallels between Israel and America – including the need to defend against terrorism… The more you focus on the similarities between Israel and America, the more likely you are to win the support of those who are neutral. Indeed, Israel is an important American ally in the war against terrorism, and faces many of the same challenges as America in protecting their citizens.”
Note how Israel’s strategy is almost totally dependent on the false idea that they are victims of terror and Western nations need to huddle together with Israel for mutual protection. Fortunately, level-headed people are beginning to realize who the terrorists really are.
It must be blindingly obvious by now that allowing parallels to be drawn between Israel and America only serves to increase the world’s hatred of America. US citizens need to wake up to this, and British citizens should avoid falling into the same trap.
Inject with “core values” and repeat over and over again…
- “The language of Israel is the language of America: ‘democracy’, ‘freedom’, ‘security’, and ‘peace’. These four words are at the core of the American political, economic, social and cultural systems, and they should be repeated as often as possible because they resonate with virtually every American.”
If so fluent in this language, why doesn’t Israel acknowledge its neighbours’ rights to democracy, freedom, security and peace and end their military oppression?
- “A simple rule of thumb is that once you get to the point of repeating the same message over and over again so many times that you think you might get sick – that is just about the time the public will wake up and say ‘Hey – this person just might be saying something interesting to me!’ But don’t confuse messages with facts…”
Never let facts get in the way of a good message!
- “How can the current Palestinian leadership honestly say it will pursue peace when previous leaders rejected an offer to create a Palestinian state just a few short years ago and now refuse to live up to their responsibilities as outlined in the Road Map?”
This must be a reference to Ehud Barak’s so-called “generous offer”, another of the myths Israelis love to peddle. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip, seized by Israel in 1967 and occupied ever since, comprise just 22 per cent of pre-partition Palestine. When the Palestinians signed the Oslo Agreement in 1993 they agreed to accept the 22 per cent and to recognize Israel within “Green Line” borders (i.e. the 1949 armistice line established after the Arab-Israeli war). Conceding 78 per cent of the land that was originally theirs was an astonishing compromise on the part of the Palestinians.
But it wasn’t enough for greedy Barak. His “generous offer” required the inclusion of 69 Israeli settlements within the 22 per cent remnant. It was plain to see on the map that these settlement blocs created impossible borders and already severely disrupted Palestinian life in the West Bank. Barak also demanded the Palestinian territories be placed under “temporary Israeli control”, meaning Israeli military and administrative control indefinitely. The “generous offer” also gave Israel control over all the border crossings of the new Palestinian state. What nation in the world would accept that? The unacceptable reality of Barak’s offer, contained in the map, was hidden by propaganda spin.
Later, at Taba, Barak produced a revised map but withdrew it after his election defeat. Don’t take my word for it – the facts are well documented and explained by organizations such as Israel’s Gush Shalom.
- “Why is the world so silent about the written, vocal, stated aims of Hamas?”
And why is the world so silent about the written, stated aims of the racist regime and its political parties? Read their manifestos.
- “Successful communications is not about being able to recite every fact from the long history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is about pointing out a few core principles of shared values – such as democracy and freedom – and repeating them over and over again… You need to start with empathy for both sides, remind your audience that Israel wants peace and then repeat the messages of democracy, freedom, and peace over and over again… we need to repeat the message, on average, 10 times to be effective.”
Is democracy a shared value? Israel is an ethnocracy not a democracy. Is freedom a shared value? The world is still waiting for Israel to allow the Palestinians their freedom.
- “The situation in the Middle East may be complicated, but all parties should adopt a simple approach: peace first, political boundaries second.”
Renounce resistance while still under Israel’s jackboot? The correct approach is for the international community to insist first that Israel complies with international law and the many UN resolutions it has contemptuously ignored. The boundaries are already defined. Whatever issues remain to be decided, Palestinians should not have to negotiate under occupation or duress.
Rockets, bombs and atrocities: the language of peace
- “Bottom line: What will happen if we fail to get the world to care about the fact that Israeli parents in southern Israel need to literally dodge rockets when they drive their children to kindergarten in the morning? What will happen if the world allows Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, to get nuclear weapons? What will Israel do if bad press causes American citizens to ask [their] government to turn its back on Israel? Why do I care so much about the success of your communications efforts? I care because I never want our children to live through what my family and yours lived through in the Holocaust.”
Only one in 500 makeshift Qassam rockets causes a fatality, small beer compared to the devastation and carnage resulting from Israel’s state-of-the-art rocketry targeted on Gaza. How does it look when Palestinians are forced to pay the price for the Holocaust? And how much does Israel care about the Palestinian holocaust it has caused?
The manual then gives a long glossary of terms. Here’s a sample:
- “Deliberately firing rockets into civilian communities”: Combine terrorist motive with civilian visuals and you have the perfect illustration of what Israel faced in Gaza and Lebanon. Especially with regard to rocket attacks but useful for any kind of terrorist attack, deliberate is the right word to use to call out the intent behind the attacks. This is far more powerful than describing the attacks as “random”.
Israelis know all about bombarding civilian targets. And they are careful not to mention that Sderot, until recently the only Israeli township within range of Gazan rockets, is built on the ruins of an ethnically cleansed Palestinian village whose inhabitants were forced from their homes by Jewish terrorists.
- “Economic Diplomacy”: This is a much more embracing and popular term than the current lexicon of “sanctions”. It has appeal across the political spectrum: the tough economic approach appeals to Republicans, and the diplomacy component satisfies Democrats.
We can all play this game. Israel is now beginning to suffer “economic diplomacy” in the form of worldwide boycotts.
- “Economic Prosperity”: Whenever Israel talks about the “economic prosperity” of the Palestinians, it puts Israel in the most positive light possible. After all, who can disagree?
What sort of prosperity is it when nothing can be imported or exported without Israel’s approval and fisherman can’t even put to sea in their own waters without having their boats shot up by the Israeli navy?
- “Human to Human”: “We know that the average Palestinian and the average Israeli want to come together and make peace. They want to live in peace. Israeli leaders have come together with Arab leaders to make peace in the past. But how do you make peace with Hamas and Hezbollah?”
Simple. You get off their land and stay off. There can be no peace under occupation. You have to be very stupid not to understand that.
- “Humanize Rockets”: Paint a vivid picture of what life is like in Israeli communities that are vulnerable to attack. Yes, cite the number of rocket attacks that have occurred. But immediately follow that up with what it is like to make the nightly trek to the bomb shelter.
Would Israel care to tell the world how many bombs, rockets and shells (including the illegal and prohibited variety) its US-supplied F-16s, tanks, armed drones and navy gunboats have poured into the densely-packed humanity that is Gaza?
Still more advice…
- “Living together, side by side”. This is the best way to describe the ultimate vision of a two-state solution without using the phrase.
Sounds cute but is worn out. Who would want to live alongside bigots and extremists who have made your life a misery for 61 years?
- “When talking about a Palestinian partner, it is essential to distinguish between Hamas and everyone else. Only the most anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian American expects Israel to negotiate with Hamas, so you have to be clear that you are seeking a ‘moderate Palestinian partner’.”
Where are the moderate Israeli partners?
- “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.”
If the fight isn’t about land, why did Israel steal it at gunpoint? And why won’t they give it back when told to by the UN?
- “Think PRO-PALESTINIAN. While I have spoken about Israeli casualties, I want to recognize those Palestinians that have been killed or wounded, because they are suffering as well. I particularly want to reach out to Palestinian mothers who have lost their children. No parent should have to bury their child.”
Israel won’t even allow cement into Gaza to build the graves.
- “And so I say to my Palestinian colleagues … you can stop the bloodshed. You can stop the suicide bombings and rocket attacks. If you really want to, you can put an end to this cycle of violence. If you won’t do it for our children, do it for your children.”
Effective Israeli sound bite. Speechless.
- “I want to see a future where the Palestinians govern themselves. Israel does not want to govern a single Palestinian. Not one. We want them to govern themselves. We want them to have complete self-determination.”
Is that why Israel tried to snuff out Palestine’s democracy – and the people’s right to self-determination – immediately after the 2006 elections?
- “The big picture approach is this: You must isolate Hamas as:
– A critical cause of the delay in achieving a two-state solution
– The biggest source of harm to the Palestinian people, and
– The reason why Israel must defend its people from living in terror.
Read from the Hamas Charter. Now, here’s how to attack Hamas: indict them with their own indoctrination materials. Yes, people know Hamas is a terrorist organization – but they don’t know just how terrifying Hamas can be. The absolute best way to heighten their awareness is to read from the Hamas Charter itself. Don’t just “quote” from it. Read it. Out loud. Again and again. Hand it out to everyone.”
At last Israel makes a good point. After three years of “government” Hamas must be mad to persist with its ill-advised charter. They have been severely tested. They have matured. They have earned credibility in many eyes. Israel’s behaviour makes Hamas look good. But all that will count for nothing if they don’t rewrite their charter as a matter of urgency.
Regev’s pearls of wisdom. But how safe is the region under the threat of Israel’s nukes?
- “It’s not just Israel who refuses to speak to Hamas. It’s the whole international community… Most of the democratic world refuses to have a relationship with Hamas because Hamas has refused to meet the most minimal benchmarks of international behaviour.” – Mark Regev
Isn’t that a little cheeky, Mr Regev, coming from a regime widely condemned for war crimes, piracy and mega-lawlessness?
- “It was the former UN secretary-general, Kofi Anan, that put four benchmarks on the table. And he said, speaking for the international community…
That if Hamas reforms itself …
If Hamas recognizes my country’s right to live in freedom…
If Hamas renounces terrorism against innocent civilians…
If Hamas supports international agreements that are being signed and agreed to concerning the peace process… then the door is open. But unfortunately – tragically – Hamas has failed to meet even one of those four benchmarks. And that’s why today Hamas is isolated internationally. Even the United Nations refuses to speak to Hamas. – Mark Regev
Which of those benchmarks has Israel met, Mr Regev?
- “Israel is very concerned about the Iranian nuclear programme. And for good reason. Iran’s president openly talks about wiping Israel off the map. We see them racing ahead on nuclear enrichment so they can have enough fissile material to build a bomb. We see them working on their ballistic missiles. We only saw, last week, shooting a rocket to launch a so-called satellite into outer space and so forth. The Iranian nuclear programme is a threat, not just to my country, but to the entire region. And it’s incumbent upon us all to do what needs to be done to keep from proliferating.” – Mark Regev
Why is Israel the only state in the region not to have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Mr Regev? Are we all supposed to believe that Israel’s 200 (or is it 400?) nuclear warheads pose no threat? Would you also like to comment on why Israel hasn’t signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, and why it has signed but not ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, similarly the Chemical Weapons Convention? What proof do you have of Iran’s nuclear weapons plans?
And why do you persist in misquoting Mr Ahmadinejad?
The Holy City is not up for grabs
- “The toughest issue to communicate will be the final resolution of Jerusalem. Americans overwhelmingly want Israel to be in charge of the religious holy sites and are frankly afraid of the consequences should Israel turn over control to the Palestinians. Consider:
– 71 per cent of Americans trust Israel most to protect the holy sites in Jerusalem, compared to 6.1 per cent who trust the Palestinian authority most. 8.5 per cent per cent trust neither.
– 54 per cent of Americans believe that ‘Jerusalem must remain united under Israeli sovereignty’ while just 23.9 per cent believe that ‘Jerusalem should be divided into Israeli controlled and Palestinian controlled areas’.
Given the choice between the two, Americans of all political and demographic stripes trust Israel to protect and have sovereignty over Jerusalem.”
Israel is in control right now and prevents Muslims and Christians from outside the city visiting the holy places. No way can Israel be trusted. The UN’s partition plan decreed that Jerusalem should become a ”corpus separatum” under international management. It is unlikely that the UN would wish to see its resolutions torn up or international law rewritten for Israel’s sole benefit, regardless of America’s misinformed opinion.
Get the name-calling right
I’ll close with the following extract:
- “Many on the left see an ‘Israel vs. Palestinian’ crisis where Israel is Goliath and the Palestinians are David. It is critical that they understand that this is an Arab-Israeli crisis and that the force undermining peace is Iran and their proxies Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. You must not call Hamas just Hamas. Call them what they are: Iran-backed Hamas. Indeed, when they know that Iran is behind Hamas and Hezbollah, they are much more supportive of Israel.”
By the same token we must call the racist regime what it is – US-backed Israel.
Iran’s support for Hamas is difficult to quantify and probably less than we think. More funding has probably come from Sunni Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In any case, it is peanuts compared to America’s support for Israel.
Hamas is an offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and was founded in 1987 during the first Intifada. Hezbollah came into being in 1982 in response to US-backed Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. So, the territorial ambitions of US-backed Israel provoked the rise of both. Israel’s problem is entirely self-inflicted and shouldn’t concern the rest of us.
Hamas’s election manifesto in 2006 called for maintaining the armed struggle against US-backed Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, which seems a perfectly valid aim.
Our obligation to respect and promote human rights
The Israel Project’s training manual is an unpleasant piece of work. It runs to 116 pages and I have only scratched the surface. It recycles many of the discredited techniques used by the advertising industry before standards of honesty, decency and truthfulness were brought in to protect the public.
And it serves to undermine with clever words the inalienable rights pledged by the UN and the world’s civilized nations to all peoples, including the Palestinians.
When you have to stoop this low you simply don’t have a case.
The Palestinian side urgently needs to strip away the deception and re-frame the Holy Land situation in truthful language. And it needs to debunk this Zionist handbook. If the PA and the PLO won’t do it, who will?
Everyone should bear in mind the following, written nearly 61 years ago:
“Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.”
It would seem that Israel has not read or understood the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which all nations signed up to. Attempts to wipe out the rights of people who happen to be in the way of the Zionist vision of a “Greater Israel” deserve no support whatever.