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19 Jul, 2009

Laying Israeli Propaganda Out in the Open

Originally Published: 19 July 2009

Once in a while, the U.S. media comes up with stories that restore my faith in American journalism. Last week, Newsweek broke the story of the “Global Language Dictionary” created by the Israel Project, a document designed to help those “visionary leaders who are on the front lines of fighting the media war for Israel.”

The “Dictionary” is a listing of 25 rules for effective communication “with many specific words and phrases to help you communicate effectively in support of Israel.” Now widely available on the Internet, the document should be must-reading for spinmeisters, political analysts and others who need to learn how to lie convincingly and get paid handsomely.

The fact that the U.S. media put this document into the public domain is a credit. Many of us who started in journalism in the 1970s drew tremendous inspiration from the country’s gung-ho media which ended a war in Vietnam and brought down a President for lying to the people who elected him.

Today is the era of embedded U.S. journalists and media management – people who help start unjust wars and then seek to justify and nourish them. These people are far more dangerous than terrorists because they are the real mind-benders, hidden persuaders and scheming manipulators.

The “Global Language Dictionary” is a scary, dangerous document. The mind-benders will see it as being a great piece of work, a blueprint for furthering the objective of obfuscation and propaganda. The real fact-finders will see it as major part of the formidable, polished and highly sophisticated arsenal they face in getting the public to sift fact from fiction.

The foreword to the “Dictionary” quotes its main writer, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, Founder & President of The Israeli Project, thus: “On behalf of our board and team, we offer this guide to visionary leaders who are on the front lines of fighting the media war for Israel. We want you to succeed in winning the hearts and minds of the public.

“We know that when you achieve your mission that you are helping both Israel and our global Jewish family. Thus, we offer these words with our sincerest wishes for your every success. May your words help bring peace and security to Israel and the Jewish people!”

Well, very interestingly, the first instruction for attaining peace and security for Israel and the Jewish people is to tell the public what it wants to hear (and never mind if it is not really true). I quote:

“The first step to winning trust and friends for Israel is showing that you care about peace for BOTH Israelis and Palestinians and, in particular, a better future for every child. Indeed, the sequence of your conversation is critical and you must start with empathy for BOTH sides first.

“Open your conversation with strong proven messages such as: ‘Israel is committed to a better future for everyone – Israelis and Palestinians alike. Israel wants the pain and suffering to end, and is committed to working with the Palestinians toward a peaceful, diplomatic solution where both sides can have a better future. Let this be a time of hope and opportunity for both the Israeli and the Palestinian people’.”

The “Dictionary” urges Israel’s advocates to “Use Empathy”. It says: “Even the toughest questions can be turned around if you are willing to accept the notion that the other side has at least some validity. If you begin your response with “I understand and I sympathize with those who…” you are already building the credibility you will need for your audience to empathize and agree with you.

“Indeed, if the heart of your communications is a chorus of finger pointing of “Israel is right, they are wrong” then you will lose more support for Israel than you will gain. Some people who ALREADY support Israel may nod their heads and say “way to go,” but people who are not already supportive of Israel will be turned off.”

More such exhortations were offered, such as making the claim: “Israelis and Palestinians – deserve a better future. Remind your audience that Israel wants peace. Then focus on shared values. Once you have done this you will have built enough support for you to say what Israel really wants: for the Palestinians to end the violence and the culture of hate so that fences and checkpoints are no longer needed and both sides can live in peace. And for Iran for Iran-backed terrorists in Gaza to stop shooting rockets into Israel so that both sides can have a better future.”

Another part of the document lists some of the key buzzwords. It says, “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. This is not rhetoric. It is fact. Despite the non-stop coverage of Israel in the press, the positive news about Israel remains untold.”

By any account, it is a remarkable document, a full-fledged strategy for fighting a military war. It lists strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, as well as target markets, strategies and direct messages.

But at the end of the day, the list of do’s and don’ts is designed to help its advocates lie – lie more convincingly and professionally, and say things they don’t necessarily mean or agree with. It is a roadmap for seeking out “soft targets” who can be fooled into believing the lies, and then crafting the lies to win them over.

When Newsweek put this “dictionary” into the public domain as a legitimate journalistic story, the objective was not to publicise the document but to expose it as incontrovertible proof that the entire Israeli communications platform is part of a clear strategy to manipulate and deceive.

That’s the real story. If the U.S. media can continue this in the way that it was once well-known for, the truth will prevail, the world will indeed be a better-informed place, and peace and security will reign for everyone, not just Israel and the Jewish people.