Apartheid for Dummies

The Israel Project's 2009 Global Language Dictionary reveals a lobby desperate to rally American public opinion behind the legitimacy of the settlements and ever willing to attribute Israel's brutal occupation to its compassion for Palestinian children.
Apartheid for dummies
Israeli settlers attack elderly Palestinian.

BEIRUT, July 14, 2009 (MENASSAT)  — Last Friday, the US weekly magazine Newsweek exclusively leaked The Israel Project’s 2009 Global Language Dictionary — a guide for “visionary leaders who are on the front lines of fighting the media war for Israel.” For those well acquainted with the rhetoric of Israeli spokespersons and politicians, the report’s content will ring familiar. But even for hardened veterans of Israeli propaganda, the report reveals in juicy detail how lobbyists for the Zionist state endeavor to exploit American gullibility and ignorance of the issues in order to subvert increasingly unfavorable world opinion.


Hasbara—to “explain” in Hebrew—refers to the promotion of Israeli government’s positions in the rest of the world. The Israel Project (TIP) is one of many outfits that work to streamline a pro-Israeli message by planting stories and viewpoints--- on TV, in print and in the blogosphere. Hasbara is seen as so integral to maintaining support for Israel’s positions that, in February 2008, the Israeli government appointed a “Hasbara czar,” Yarden Vatikay, to coordinate media coverage.

The Israel Project runs offices in Washington DC and in Jerusalem, which “provid[e] reporters with needed facts and information before they file their stories. […]They host media events and briefings and provide background and sources to the more than 400 reporters permanently assigned to Israel as well as the hundreds of others who report from Israel at key moments in history.”

TIP counts amongst its advisory board members 12 US senators and 10 congressmen.


TIP’s 116-page report is divided into 19 chapters. In order to more effectively sway “persuadables,” TIP conducted extensive opinion polling to garner which approaches are most persuasive to various focus groups-- Democrats, conservatives, women and minorities. Unsurprisingly perhaps, TIP concludes: “Your most favorable audience is white, male voters.”

Much of the Global Language Dictionary focuses on the tone Israel advocates should adopt, reiterating that the party that sounds most caring and balanced will win Americans over: “Show Empathy for BOTH sides! The goal of pro-Israel communications is not simply to make people who already love Israel feel good about that decision. The goal is to win new hearts and minds for Israel without losing the support Israel already has. To do this you have to understand the frame from which most Americans view Israel is one of “cycle of violence that has been going on for thousands of years.” Thus, you have to disarm them from their suspicions before they will be open to learning new facts about Israel.”

The report also ridicules the target audience’s intelligence, reducing Americans to spectators of a sporting match:  “Americans want a team to cheer for. Let the public know GOOD things about Israel.”

“Be careful of your tone. A patronizing, parental tone will turn Americans and Europeans off. We’re at a time in history when Jews in general (and Israelis in particular) are no longer perceived as the persecuted people. In fact, among American and European audiences—sophisticated, educated, opinionated non-Jewish audiences—Israelis are often seen as the occupiers and the aggressors. With that kind of baggage, it is critical that messages from the pro-Israel spokespeople not come across as supercilious or condescending.”

In particular, leftists are mentioned as a challenge for propagandists. Many of the talking points explicitly encourage Israel’s supporters to be manipulative and insincere in order to defend themselves against growing international hostility towards, in particular, Israeli settlements.

“'Nobody has to  leave their homes': This is the most winning phrase in the lexicon of settlements,” the report’s author Republican strategist Frank Luntz writes. “Use the principle of mutuality to explain that just as Arab Israelis are not expected to move out of their homes in Israel, Jews in a new Palestinian state should be allowed to stay in their homes, too.”

Obama era-appropriate language
Indicating that Israel’s advocates need to adapt to new realities under the Obama administration, the guide devotes an entire chapter to “learn[ing] from President Obama’s language.” “Avoid Bush-era sounding terms like ‘Islamo-fascism,’” Luntz writes. Like Obama’s campaign slogan, Israeli propagandists should employ “hope,” for example by stating: “The day will come when Israeli children and Palestinian children will grow up together, play together, and eventually work together side-by-side not just because they have to but because they want to.”
When necessary, the report recommends spokespersons also admit to Israel’s "accidental" mistakes. “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 American 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?’”

Avoid sounding like a brutal occupier

Examples of successful and unsuccessful arguments pervade the report. “Words that work” includes statements such as:

“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. The Palestinians need books, not bombs. They want roads, not rockets.”

By all means, Luntz writes, avoid “words that don’t work” such as, “'We are prepared to allow them to build….' Never talk about ‘giving’ the Palestinians something.  It sounds too paternalistic.  Instead, talk about ‘providing’ or ‘building.’  Giving reminds people that you’re in the stronger position and that creates more sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians.”

How to lie

What should be cause for some embarrassment for The Israel Project are sections, which unambiguously instruct Israel’s supporters to lie in response to difficult questions. In regards to the two-state solution (a policy the current Israeli government has been loathe to embrace, but that the majority of Americans support), the guide instructs spokespersons to frame the one-state solution in terms of two-state arguments: “Peace first. Political boundaries second. While these are essentially ‘anti-‘ two-state arguments, you can and must still frame them positively if you want the support of the majority of Americans.”

TIP urges Israel’s supporters to subtly emphasize the hatred Palestinian children are indoctrinated with through the Arab media, in direct contrast to the peace-loving Israelis.  “Most importantly, no one believes that the horrible things these Arab and Palestinian children are doing and saying occurs in Israel – and it therefore destroys the moral equivalency argument and sympathy for the Palestinians at the same time.”   

In Israeli schools, on the other hand, one should insist that “children are taught to respect Palestinians and empathize with their plight.  Tragically, there are fewer teachers today in Israeli schools than in past years because of the need to hire so many security guards, add metal detectors and replace the windows with bullet-proof glass.  It shouldn’t be this way.  And yet our Israeli children are still taught that the pursuit of peace is the highest calling.”  On the contrary, Israeli schools use maps that identify the entirety of mandate Palestine -- and the occupied Golan Heights-- as Israeli.

Americans don’t like separate but equal rhetoric

Certain sections read almost like an Orientalist account of the “American mind:” 

“Note: The arguments about demolishing Palestinian homes because they are not within the Jerusalem building code tested SO badly that we are not even going to dignify them with a Word’s That Don’t Work box.  Americans hate their own local planning boards for telling them where they can and can’t put swimming pools or build fences.  You don’t need to import that animosity into your own credibility issues. Worse yet, talking about “’violations of building codes’” when a TV station is showing the removal of a house that looks older than the modern state of Israel is simply catastrophic.”

Propagandists are instructed to be particularly careful not to remind Americans of how much Israeli’s treatment of Palestinians mirrors their own struggle with racism and segregation.  “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.’ even when told that Palestinians and Israelis advocate the same agenda.  The language is simply too loaded to American ears.”    

J street

TIP’s message—in particular its defense of settlements and its claim that removing Jewish settlers from the West Bank would amount to “ethnic cleansing”--- stands in contrast to the efforts of J Street, the new self-declared “pro-Israeli, pro-peace lobby.”  J Street has been raising money to support candidates for public office in the United States who favor a stronger line against settlement construction. In response to TIP’s Global Language Dictionary, they immediately put out an alert, demanding that TIP “ remove any pro-settlement fear-mongering talking points from [its] materials.”

In response, TIP president and founder Jennifer Laszlo-Mizrahi fired back: “I get up in the morning and say ‘How can I attack the Iranian nuclear threat,” said Mizrahi. J Street “gets up in the morning and says ‘How can I attack other Jewish organizations?’”