Friday, July 10, 2009

Israel Lobby Is Nothing If Not Thorough

Newsweek has published a link to a handbook put out by "The Israel Project", part of that amalgam of pro Israel-No-Matter-What groups loosly labelled "The Israel Lobby".

It is a masterpiece!

Its title is "Global Language Dictionary" and its goal is to teach the reader how to frame the discussion around Israel/Palestine so that the reader - presumably an ardent supporter and lobbier on behalf of Israel - is guaranteed to win all arguments.

For example, from page 19 (of 116!):

For the first time in our communication effort, we have provided an A-Z glossary of specific words, phrases, and concepts that should form the core of any
pro-Israeli communication effort.

• “Accountability.” It is surprising that the value Americans want most in their own government has not been used by Israeli spokespeople to describe what’s needed in the current dialogue. Stop using “confidence building measures” and start using “accountability” to describe what’s needed most within the Palestinian government(s).

• “Building”: Never talk about “giving” the Palestinians something. It sounds too paternalistic. Instead, talk about “building” because it suggests a step-by-step, layer-bylayer improvement in conditions. Giving reminds people that you’re in the stronger position and that creates more sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians.

• “Children”: As often as possible, make the stakes of achieving peace about providing a future for both Palestinian and Israeli children in which they can live, learn, and grow up without the constant fear of attack.

• “Come to Jerusalem to work for peace”: The visual symbolism isn’t lost on American ears. It’s an active challenge to turn words into deeds.

• “Cooperation, collaboration, and compromise”: This is how Americans believe the conflict must be solved. When you give a little, you get a lot.

And its chock full of good tips on how to make effective arguments, with lots of examples, like this, from page 22:

Over 78% of Americans support a two-state solution.

So when you’re talking to Americans, you need to know that when you don’t support a two-state solution you risk having a major public relations challenge in America and Europe. The new Israeli government knows this but feel so strongly about security concerns that they arewilling to take this risk for the long-term security of their people. ...

Thus, at least for now, the new Israeli leaders have not articulated support for a two-state solution .... That said, it is important to note that there are effective ways to uphold the ultimate goal of a Palestinian self-government while legitimately questioning how soon the solution can be reached. This is the rhetorical area [SN emphasis added, see my note below] in which you need to operate.

(1) Identify the goal, and be authentic. Given the overwhelming American support for a two-state solution, it will make support much easier and faster if you if set the tone for all discussions by articulating Israel’s shared vision for the ultimate goal of two peoples, living side by side in a lasting and secure peace. In the name of gaining credibility for why you might later say that a two-state solution isn’t achievable overnight, you should start with language like the following to signal how your goals align with the public’s.


Two homelands for two peoples living side-by-side in peace and security is not a fake slogan, but a real necessity for the stability in the entire region. Each homeland should provide a solution to the national aspiration of its people – Israel, as a homeland for the Jewish people, and the creation of a Palestinian homeland, as a fulfillment of their national desire.

Saying “is not a fake slogan, but a real necessity” sets the tone for the entire paragraph. It conveys authenticity and will keep the listener tuned in to what else you have to say. ... particularly now that a “two-state solution” has been bandied about for years, people want to hear that you support Palestinian rights.

(2) Peace first. Political boundaries second. One solution that would clearly be welcomed by the majority of Americans is, after articulating the long-term goal of a two-state solution, giving examples of why a two-state solution can’t happen overnight.

While these [points below] are essentially “anti” two-state arguments, you can and must still frame them positively [SN emphasis added, see my note below] if you want support of the majority of Americans. ...

Is this just good salesmanship or is it sleazy and insidious?

I believe it is both!

And it is not just good salesmanship, it is excellent salesmanship! Everyone interested in presenting winning arguments re Israel/Palestine, no matter if on the right or the left, should read this manual. (If on the left, to know what you are up against.) In fact, anyone interested in presenting winning arguments in any forum on any topic should read at least Chapter 1: 25 Rules For Effective Communications.

Is it sleazy and insidious? It is, if the writers of the manual believe that what they are telling their readers to say is untrue or misleading. (If they believe it the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, then they are merely wrong - not sleazy.) While they don't come out and say that what they advise is lying, they occasionally let it slip that they are deliberately misleading, or stretching or shaving the truth. Certainly winning the argument is more important to them than honesty and full disclosure. The highlighted - in bold - sections above are only two examples of this disingenuousness that is scattered throughout the document.

This is fascinating read, whether you are an Israel/Palestine junkie, interested in learning how really good PR organizations work, or interested in honing your own sales and argumentation skills.

You can read the full document at the Newsweek site.


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