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Israel's Propaganda Machine Is Finally Starting to Misfire

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To many readers the New York Times coverage of the war in Gaza comes across as neutered or as having a pro-Israeli bias. But not to Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador in Washington, who lambasts the paper for failing “to mention that a million Israelis were in bomb shelters yesterday as 100 rockets were fired at our civilian population.”

Mr Dermer is considered so close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he has been called “Bibi’s brain”. He is also a former student and employee of Frank Luntz, the Republican strategist who produced a confidential booklet in 2009, promptly leaked, advising Israeli spokesmen how best to manipulate American and European public opinion. “Don’t confuse messages with facts,” Dr Luntz advises the spokesmen as he explains how facts should be selected and best presented to make Israel’s case.

It is a sophisticated document based on wide-ranging opinion polls, suggesting, for instance, that the removal of Israeli settlements from the West Bank should be denounced as “a kind of ethnic cleansing”. Dr Luntz stresses that spokesmen must demonise Hamas, but above all emphasise that they feel for the sufferings of Palestinians as well as Israelis. As a sample of what they should say, he gives: “The day will come when Israeli children and Palestinian children will grow up together, play together, and work together side-by-side not just because they have to but because they want to.”

The problem about this approach is that it sounds particularly hypocritical when, according to Unicef, 230 children have been killed in Gaza, an average of ten a day, and 2,000 have been wounded by Israeli bombs, shells and bullets. Israeli spokesmen are now denying their responsibility for the most notorious and televised atrocities such as the strike on the UN hospital last week. This is an old PR tactic, though not one recommended by Dr Luntz, which is sometime referred to as “first you say no story, then you say old story”. In other words, deny everything in the teeth of the evidence on day one and, by the time definitive proof of the massacre comes through, nobody notices when you have to admit responsibility.

A problem here is that propaganda that works in a short war comes back to haunt you in a longer one. This is now happening in Gaza. Israeli air and artillery strikes and Hamas mortars and rockets are often presented as if they balanced each other out in terms of lethality. But the most important statistic here is that some 1,100 Palestinians have been killed as opposed to three civilians in Israel.

Despite his tutoring by Dr Luntz, Mr Dermer only speaks these days to the converted. Attending a Christians United for Israel Summit in Washington he replied to protesters who called him a “war criminal” by saying that “the truth is that the Israeli Defence Forces should be given a Nobel Peace Prize”. Stuff like this may explain why a Gallup poll shows that among Americans aged between 18 and 29 some 51 per cent said Israel’s actions were unjustified while only 23 per cent said they were.

For all the good advice of Dr Luntz there are signs of Israeli leaders getting rattled. Mr Netanyahu complained on CNN that Hamas wants “to pile up as many civilian dead as they can” and “to use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause.” Even the best propaganda machine cannot explain away massacres of civilians as happened in Lebanon at Sabra and Shatila in 1982 and at Qana in 1996 and 2006.

(Reprinted from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Gaza, Israel/Palestine 

27 Comments to "Israel's Propaganda Machine Is Finally Starting to Misfire"

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  1. says:
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    looks like a bad day in Chicago, Detroit or Baltimore. Same conductors making it all happen.

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  2. “The writer of such a script could claim Biblical authority. In Isaiah 44:28, the God of Israel declares through his prophet that Cyrus “is my shepherd, and he shall carry out all my purpose.” Throughout Chapter 45 of Isaiah he speaks directly to Cyrus—”his anointed”—calling him “righteous” and informing him that “the wealth of Egypt and the merchandise of Ethiopia” will “come over to you, and be yours.” The Book of Ezra opens with King Cyrus issuing an edict declaring, “The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem in Judah.” In Daniel 6:26 a King Darius issues a decree that “in all my royal dominion people should tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.” Esther 2:15-18 describes Xerxes’ marriage to the Jewish maiden Esther. None of this is historically reliable; “. Gary Leupp Prof of History at Tufts

    This was most likely written years after the Persian defeat and colonization of Egypt inthe battle at Elephantine Point. But the verse was composed to give the betrayal of Egypt by the Jewish soldiers the religious / divine legitimacy . This betrayal has been alluded to by the father of current Israeli PM as the cause the ignited antisemitism first time inthe history in his book – Inquisition .
    Propaganda in the ancient times had a different flavor. It was god’s will !

  3. Defense Minister Pinhas Lavon’s words to the GS in July 1954 were, “Guys, you have to understand [that] there can be the greatest and most successful military operation, and it will turn into a political failure, meaning eventually a military failure as well. I’ll give a simple example: Qibya.”

    Kind of says what is happening today; qibya was a slaughter lead by sharon.

  4. I’m always cynical about these reported “misfirings”. Nothing really seems to change. I suppose this time is a little different in that the stark reality of massacres conducted by Israel come into our living room each evening. The persistence of these images is something new. But all is not lost for the zealot Zionist. This compares well to Vietnam. And look how long it took for the Americans then congress to make peace. Years. And that war didn’t have the powerful Israelis lobby behind it. I think Mr. Dermer hit on the essence of successful propaganda very well. It depends upon how long this war goes on. Israel will be able to sanitize their war crimes if they end it quickly. For the propaganda machine to work it must become “old” or better yet “settled” news.

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  5. No-one should ever underestimate the deep hatred of the Israelis towards the Arabs. The people of Israel are now willing to use genocide to get what they want – more Palestinian land. I don’t think any intelligent person does, but they are in the minority. The majority still buy the “poor little Israel always being attacked when all they want is to live in peace” meme. They can’t, or don’t want to see the constant land-theft and racist violation of human rights. And this clueless majority includes our whole Congress as well as the main media (always available to the highest bidder).
    But, propaganda is limited, it couldn’t shield the inhuman outrages of Nazi Germany, the inefficiency of the Soviet Union, or our baseless lies to expedite our attacking Iraq. All three flawed enterprises became undone, eventually despite all of the blather justifying them. Why should the criminal enterprise called Israel be any different? Humans can be stupid or corrupt, but there is a limit.

  6. Here is some video of what emergency rescue personnel in Gaza face from Israel.

  7. New material for the future propangada is being arranged ,supplied,and new picture is slowly being created.
    The latest one will sound like this -Hamas did not accept the peace proposal ,that Hamas did not accept a truce that was brokered by FFELLOW MUSLIM COUNTRY EGYPT !

    It was a peace proposal that was written under the Sisi letter head and stamped with Egyptian seal but written and composed by Blair whose attitude to Muslim religious organizations and movements are well known (,

    blair-backs-egypt-military-ruler-abdel-fatah-al-sisi His support for Israel is blatant,partisan,and financially tainted. His connection to Rupert Murdoch is well known . His departure was resented by neocons ( Richard Perle ) .
    So what was there that Hamas did not like? It did not address the demands of Hamas that included the demands endorsed by the international treaties,clauses,convention,and laws – remove blockade, remove check points,stop abusing the coast line and exploitating the coast line,and release theological prisoners and the children.

    Above it from a legal perspective ,this peace proposal did not refer the crimes of the guilty side who initiated this war on false premise that Hamas killed the youths when its own intelligence had already concluded Hamas had nothing to do with the kidnap pings and killings.(, aljazeera America , reddit, ) .

    But why did Egypt decide to carry the can ? Why did it decide to carry the water ? Why did it step up to the plate ? Why did it try to get involved when it is mired in violence,suppression,and turmoil? Egypt’s military was colluding with Israel to topple Mprsi. Last Morsi government stopped a similar attacks that Israel was planning on Gaza.
    This government has crushed Muslim brotherhood that had ties with Hamas . Blair and Israel fit in this complex testify of fear and hatred and money quite well.
    Above all ,an illegitimate government like the current one in Egypt will get a nice exposure in US TV and a desirable pat on the back by the corrupted US politicians at the urgings of Israel .
    What Egypt did was nothing new. Any felon suspect in a sting operation or someone caught in an entrapment operation will do for favor or reduced sentences . Egypt is in this situation. It can serve the US and Israel in many situations as a front man . It can use it Muslim identity to supply the veneer of legitimacy . This supplicant and overtly eagerness to get invloved in fatal unproductive processs also protects it’s basic interest of self preservation by doing Israeli biddings . A felon would exactly will do same thing . In Egypt America and Israel have found the perfect felon .

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  8. Vietnam war direct or indirect by proxy would have never ended if American media were partisan and were controlled by S Vietnamese diaspora in US and Europe and Australia, if the politicians received the bundled campaign donations from S Vietnamese every few years in election cycle ,if the endowed Chairs in the universities were supported by the money from S Vietnamese ,if the financial engineering were managed mainly by the S Vietnamese, if the churches glorified the presence of the S Vietnamese and claimed that God blessed those who blessed S Vietnamese, if N Vietnamese were portrayed by S Vietnamese film industry as hideous looking,dressed in uncivilized clothes and swearing destruction of America,if the justice department never enforced or investigated any S Vietnamese corruption and anti American activities on the ground of losing the files,disappearing of the witnesses,or hurting of prominent people or national interest or by simple procrastination and delays ,if S Vietnamese were allowed to counter any anti S Vietnamese activity as an expression of racism- there would never be a truce,negotiation,meeting let alone any break of peace between the two .

    America much easily can extricate itself from any conflict when its purpose and roles on one side and the cost on the other side are clearly delineated and if it were the decider.
    America fights an uninformed war in case of Israeli initiated aggression on behalf of Israel.
    In case of Israel,the goal post have shifted every years ,the concept have broadened and mutated every years ,the results have been discarded in anticipation of better and more satisfying outcomes creating the impulses for more of the same – more confrontation . By keeping the goal nebulous and by describing the goals in terms of abstract concept and in religious / ethical/ moral languages ,Israel has hid the end game from Americans and has piled on more demands on the neighboring countries .
    The corrupted situation in politics,media,Hollywood,and academia work in favor of those that have the power to maintain the corruption.
    Ironically it is the very American money that is siphoned off to Israel,could have been used at home mainly in politics and academy and media and it could have prevented the rise of this corrupting influences .

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  9. I fear that there will soon be a black flag operation that will grab the world’s attention in order to divert the world’s criticisms of ongoing Israeli Jew atrocities against the people of Gaza. Their evil knows no bounds. I hope that the atrocious actions of Zionist Israel will damage their image in the eyes of the world beyond repair.

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  10. You don’t understand that Egypt also didn’t want to be Muslim Brotherhood. There is a nasserist strand in egypt. Not everything is a about Israel some things in Middleeast have nothing to do with it

    Some protests are funded by opponents in countries but unless you claim the fucking civil war was half mossad agents then I guess Egypt is an intelligence angency.

  11. Sorry but Israel has fought its own wars for years. And the aid it has gotten and support wwere not based on amercia being its main backer like today. Look at the cold war.

  12. As an American, I am deeply shamed at my government’s support of Israel’s criminal assault on Gaza civilians. Our press and TV commentators constantly push Israeli lies and propaganda to justify American financial and military aid to the Zionist butchers. How can Israel justify the slaughter of over 1,400 innocent men, women and children? What excuse can justify the intentional murder of over 200 little children? Israel has the right to defend itself by blowing small children into little bloody chunks of human flesh? Hamas firing totally ineffective and useless rockets that land in the Israeli dessert justifies the crimes against humanity that Israel is committing? That the Hamas rockets inconvenience a small portion of the Israeli population by causing them to run to a bomb shelter (the majority of Israelis have bomb shelters in their homes, as mandated by Israeli law)? Hamas is reacting in opposition to the illegal military occupation of Palestine and the Israeli suppression of the Palestinian people. Were the roles reversed, and it was the Palestinians occupying Israel and subjecting the Israeli population to genocide, ethnic cleansing and war crimes, would the American government support the Palestinians? All foreign aid to Israel must end immediately. An arms embargo must be imposed on Israel and the American government should shake off the death grip of the Israeli lobby and join the world community of nations in demanding an end to Israel’s occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.

  13. For propaganda to be effective there must also be a willingness to accept it.

    This willingness in America comes not only from lazy intellectuals, the influence of the Christian Zionists, and the Israeli control of the news media, Hollywood, and American politicians, but from the almost inbred hatred of darker skinned people.

  14. The crux of the matter is ‘ OCCUPATION ‘ . Israel has successfully kept the public away from this topic. Reason Hamas fires rockets is that they have been caged in Gaza and anyone will fire anything when they are cornered like this.

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  15. One more time:

    Any country that has as its primary foreign policy goal the subversion of the US’ political system is an enemy of the people of America.

    Needs to be said early and often.

  16. : are you freaking SERIOUS—-”Israel has fought its own wars for years”? Just who do you think financed those wars, pal, and contributed the weapons? Here’s a helpful hint: it was ME, the American taxpayer, who is being forced by my government to murder Palestinians by proxy due to my tax “contributions”.
    Tonight NCB News interviewed a poor, put-upon Israeli family who live near the “dreaded” tunnels that Gazans use primarily to get food and medicine into their beleaguered sliver of land. “We have to listen to our rocket fire going towards Gaza all the time,” claimed the oh-so-pitiful family. News flash to these a**holes: At least you can LEAVE. In fact, why don’t you, since you’re living in land belonging to someone else?
    All I can say is, thank the goddess for the enlightenment of American youth, who don’t listen to Diane Sawyer and her pathetic ilk, but receive their information from unbiased internet sources. THEY are the future of our dealings with Israel, and Israel knows it. In the meantime, if you’re an American, please contact your reps in Congress and your U.S. Senators (which I do on a daily basis.) I have told them repeatedly: The time will come when your support for Israel will be a liability, not an asset. (I’m also working my butt off to make sure an Democrat running for the U.S. Senate in my state, who supports Israel unconditionally, goes down in flames in November: his Republican opponent has NO ties with Israel, Zionism, or AIPAC.) Don’t be a knee-jerk Democrat like I used to be; check your sources to be sure you’re not supporting a ZioFascist.
    We can change this, people. But we have to STAND UP AND BE HEARD.

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  17. Wasn’t the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH-17 crash such a false flag operation to take the world’s mind off Israel’s aggression against the Gaza Strip? If so, the diversionary tact failed miserably.

    Israel’s notorious for false flags; just research the 1954 Lavon Affair, the attack on the USS Liberty during the 1967 Six-Day War, the attack on the USS Cole, the US Embassy attack in Kenya; the two attacks on the Twin Towers (the first in 1993 and the second on 09/11/01); you’ll find that the Zionist Entity had a big hand in all of them. I wouldn’t be surprised if Israel was involved in the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH-370 as well as the crash of MH-17; after all; the Malaysian Gov’t had already tried Israeli officials (both military and civilian) in absentia for war crimes and crimes against humanity; and, the two incidents involving a Malaysian passenger jet was the Zionist Entity’s revenge.

  18. Is it time to flip the argument on it’s head? Ask where the patrons of Israel expect this to end?

    Hamas is the enemy, and must be destroyed. But the majority in Gaza supports Hamas. They are the enemy and you can’t destroy Hamas without destroying them. Most of the children there will grow up to support Hamas. That has to be prevented.

    No country would live with another country raining rockets down on it. Therefore, no country would allow Hamas to exist. Therefore, no country would allow the supporters of Hamas to exist. Therefore, logically, no country in the world would refrain from eliminating the problem of rocket fire from a neighboring country by invading and eliminating the population of that country.

    There is no other solution (if you decline to negotiate). Kill 2,000- why not 20,000, or 200,000? Or all?

    This is the only solution in prospect for all of these people who give unconditional support to Israel. Israel is under threat by rockets. Those rockets have to be stopped permanently- without negotiations or any concessions to the people sending those rockets. The people sending those rockets have said they will not stop. And they won’t stop- you’ve said it yourselves; they’re evil. They throw themselves in front of tank shells to damage Israel, and make telegenic corpses. Not really human at all.

    So Israel just has to kill them all.

    Would Obama or Congress object if Israel gets industrial in their disposal of Palestinians? They may as well just start shelling the areas where the people they’ve chased the population of the 44% of Gaza Israel has said is now a military zone. Isn’t it time Israel got organized? Maybe a conference would be good. The hotel at Wansee is probably available.

    Are we all okay with that? Are all you Israel defenders out there willing to kill them all? You may have to. Are you okay with that?


    That’s the logic. That’s the only solution.

    Is it not the time to ask supporters of Israel if this is not their plan, in the end?

  19. The Israeli occupation of Gaza ended in 2005. Gaza has been “caged” since (now by Egypt as well as Israel) because Hamas has acted like animals.

    This is the typical M.O. of Palestinian “resistance” for more than 25 years: act violently to cause Israeli security measures (check points, fences), then claim your violence is in response to those measures, rather than what prompted them. Which is false. Before the first intifada, you could drive from Israel to the West Bank and back without going through any checkpoints, for example. And there was no fence around Gaza then either.

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  20. Jay another 50 year old virgin weighs in on the savagery ofthe slaves of the Jews. They should kiss the hairy-backed shvitzers and clap as the Jew goons dance the whora on the bodies of the Palestinian children whose blood theyve drained probably for matzohs, starting to believe the old “blood libels”are true.

  21. Wait wait wait…do you consider that land Jews live on that was settled and originally during the British Mandate is
    not theirs? Even when it was recognized by United Nations. Do you believe all land that settled on had Arabs living on every acre? Sorry but that’s insane revanchism and the justification for terrorism during intifadas.

    Israel might’ve gotten support from US durign cold war but that was not USAs priority nor was USA only country to do so.

  22. Whose land are they living on? Land owned by Jewish Kibbutz farmers for a century. Offupiee since 1908 by Turkish landlords.

  23. Your Nazi antijewish conspiracism aside which is shared with you by neonazis , you seem to be under the completely untrue and obviously ridiculous idea that “darker skinned people” are lambs when in fact they’ve made a he’ll out of Africa as compared to white colonists.

  24. […] wins in this conflict is…HAMAS. Israel is well on the way to becoming a pariah state, its propaganda collapsing, with huge numbers even in Europe now turned firmly against its racist apartheid policies. However, […]

  25. […] Patrick Cockburn: Israel’s Propaganda Machine Is Finally Starting to Misfire […]

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