Israel’s P.R. campaign is failing: the more Americans know, the less favorable they are

US Politics
on 30 Comments

The news out of Israel is that a survey by an American Zionist group says that Israeli PR (or hasbara) isn’t working, and the more Americans learn about Israel, the less favorably they feel about the country. The Times of Israel describes the data as devastating: “‘Devastating’ survey shows huge loss of Israel support among Jewish college students.”

The study is titled, “Sounding the Alarm: The American-Israeli Relationship.” Fern Oppenheim, head of the Brand Israel Group, which produced the survey, “repeatedly used the word ‘devastating’ — each time without hyperbole.” From the Times of Israel:

[T]he gap between Israel-supporters and detractors is widening. The current Israel advocacy programs are not working, and Jewish college students are the leading defectors from Israel support.

‘The future of America no longer believe that Israel shares their values’

Mainstream Americans are not starting from a neutral perspective on Israel; rather, they begin with misperceptions and negative assumptions. This creates “fertile ground” for delegitimization, said Oppenheim, who also spoke this week at the prestigious annual Herzliya Conference.

The 2016 segmentation study’s data shows that the current campaign of depicting the Israel beyond the conflict — specifically, highlighting high-tech achievements — is not effective. In fact, the more the study participants knew about Israel, the less favorably they felt about the country.

The study says that Americans have learned a lot more about Israel since 2010, but that knowledge has fostered the country’s unfavorable reputation, and fed the “delegitimization” campaign, because Americans increasingly feel that Israel does not share their values.

(This is exactly what Adam Horowitz wrote in a joke post of April 1 last year: “Birthright ends trips to Israel — ‘American Jews are better off imagining Israel than seeing it’”.)

Oppenheim was further quoted by the Times of Israel, from an appearance in Israel:

“The future of America no longer believe that Israel shares their values. This is huge! Devastating.”…

Much of this change she blamed on the rise of “intersectionality” on campuses. There is no longer nuance in campus conversations about Israel, she said. Instead, the “atmosphere is oppressor versus victim. Israel is just another symbol of this.”

“We are allowing Israel to be defined by its detractors,” she emphasized….

“The sands under our feet are shifting,” said Oppenheim. “It is clear that the divide in our community is here for the next generation.”

Here’s the Jerusalem Post coverage:

Support for Israel has dropped 27 percentage points among Jewish college students in the US since 2010, a study released by Brand Israel Group at the Herzliya Conference this week revealed…

Researchers found that although since 2010, claimed knowledge of Israel has increased by 14 percentage points, the public is still not more favorable to Israel. On the contrary, favorability decreased, especially among the general college student population, among the most hostile to Israel.

In 2016, 54% overall expressed views in favor of Israel, compared to 73% in 2010, a 19 percentage point decrease. For Jewish college students specifically, 82% held positive views of Israel in 2016 compared to 95% in 2010. The same trend was noted for African-Americans, Hispanics and Democrats surveyed…

The study acknowledged a solid base of core support for Israel comprised of Jews, evangelicals, older Americans and the political Right, but noted that college students overall, Jewish college students and minority groups, are populations that Israel is at risk of losing.

The Institute for Middle East Understanding seized on the study to say that efforts to educate Americans are working. Margaret DeReus wrote in a widely-distributed email today:

This shift in political consciousness is exactly what you and I and the rest of our IMEU family are working toward and it is so exciting to see these indicators that our efforts are paying off!

The marvel is that these changes are not reflected in our political establishment or our media. Even Bernie Sanders, the leftmost figure in the Democratic Party, forswears boycotting Israel and is muted in his criticisms of the country. This is why I insist the problem is the Israel lobby, the extent to which the media and political elites are dominated by Israel supporters. A Time Warner executive writes speeches for Netanyahu and nobody gives a hoot.

In an indication of the disconnect between ordinary Americans and the political leaders, Grant Smith at antiwar.com reports that Americans don’t identify as Zionists:

An unprecedented poll reveals the gaping void between American identification with Israel and the official positions taken by both major political parties.

A majority of American adults – 70.3 percent – do not consider themselves Zionists when defined as “A Zionist is a person who believes in the development and protection of a Jewish nation in what is now Israel.” Only 24.9 percent say, “I consider myself a Zionist” while 4.8% provided other responses…..

In contrast to their constituents, members of both major US political parties have long operated under overwhelmingly Zionist party platforms. The 2016 Democratic party platform references Israel 9 times. Republican party platform 19. They differ little on the key issues:

Thanks to Annie Robbins.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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30 Responses

  1. Kay24
    June 23, 2017, 12:56 pm

    This is heartening news for those against the occupation and land grabs. It also shows Israel that the millions of shekels it has invested in hasbara, campaigns to stop the BDS movement in Western nations, and the false narrative that they are victims of occupied people, has not, and will never work. This is why they are desperately trying to stop the BDS movement. It is hurting them. This is Israel’s self inflicted wound, and they have themselves to blame. Nothing they have done has worked in their favor, except the US government handing them endless aid and weapons. I guess part of this decline in support by Jewish diaspora was also the result of their “mowing the lawn” in 2014 made a dramatic change of attitude around the world. Decent people were horrified to see the precision bombs going into homes, entire families being wiped out, babies being pulled out of the rubble, and the unbelievable bombing of UN shelters. Again, Israel has itself to blame. The question is what now? Jared making peace in the region, and a miracle happening? Nah.

  2. Annie Robbins
    June 23, 2017, 2:01 pm

    the google consumer survey, with it’s computerized results, is amazing.

    https://surveys.google.com/reporting/survey?survey=x5oybzltdxt763gxep3fyxynyu

    “A Zionist is a person who believes in the development and protection of a Jewish nation in what is now Israel.”

    just over 70% of respondents chose “I do not consider myself a Zionist” vs 25.2% opting for “I consider myself a zionist”. the only thing radical about that is how much the sentiment is suppressed and goes TOTALLY unrepresented in congress.

    • Mooser
      June 23, 2017, 2:33 pm

      “A Zionist is a person who believes in the development and protection of a Jewish nation in what is now Israel.”

      Looks like they used the most anodyne definition for Zionism they could formulate, with no mention of anybody being adversely affected by Zionism.

      And still got a 70% “No”.

  3. Kay24
    June 23, 2017, 2:57 pm

    Continuing the good news, the UK High Court throws out Israel boycott restrictions.
    Something that will never be seen in the US.

    “The High Court in London ruled on Thursday that the Conservative government acted unlawfully in trying to prevent local councils in the United Kingdom from divesting from firms involved in Israel’s military occupation.

    The successful legal challenge for the right to boycott was brought by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in March, and was supported by War on Want, the Campaign Against the Arms Trade and the Quakers.

    ”We couldn’t be happier that this right has been upheld by the court,” said PSC Director Ben Jamal.

    Recent UK polling showed that two in five people consider BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions – a reasonable Palestinian response to Israel’s crimes.

    “Today is a victory for Palestine, for local democracy and for the rule of law,” PSC Chair Hugh Lanning, said. “Absolutely everyone has a right to peacefully protest Israel’s violation of Palestinian human rights.”

    https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/asa-winstanley/israel-boycott-restrictions-thrown-out-uks-high-court

    Good for you Palestinians.

    • RoHa
      June 23, 2017, 8:58 pm

      This is, of course, absolutely undeniable, totally incontrovertible, completely irrefutable, rock solid proof that the British Establishment, and British society as a whole, is deeply, unreservedly, fanatically anti-Semitic.

      Isn’t it?

      • Eva Smagacz
        June 24, 2017, 10:21 am

        This from Noam Chomsky:

        Ambassador to the United Nations, Abba Eban, (…) He advised the American Jewish community that they had two tasks to perform. One task was to show that criticism of the policy, what he called anti-Zionism — that means actually criticisms of the policy of the state of Israel — were anti-Semitism. That’s the first task. Second task, if the criticism was made by Jews, their task was to show that it’s neurotic self-hatred, needs psychiatric treatment.

  4. Citizen
    June 23, 2017, 4:02 pm

    NOBODY’S TALKING ABOUT THIS ON CABLE TV MAINSTREAM US INFOTAINMENT SHOWS

  5. Keith
    June 23, 2017, 4:46 pm

    PHIL- “The marvel is that these changes are not reflected in our political establishment or our media.”

    Come on Phil, surely you are aware that these changes will be reflected only if they reflect elite opinion. The 99% have little influence over policy and the media reflect elite opinion.

    PHIL- “This is why I insist the problem is the Israel lobby, the extent to which the media and political elites are dominated by Israel supporters.”

    Exactly, and a good example is the Stephen Colbert interview with Oliver Stone regarding his Putin interviews. http://www.globalresearch.ca/stones-putin-interviews-offend-a-us-establishment-drunk-on-its-own-exceptionalism/5595071 I commented on this a couple of days ago. It was a hostile interview with Colbert pressing Stone on Russian interference in our election. I thought Stone’s response was somewhat weak which I attributed to this being a promotional interview regarding his interviews with Putin. I now found out that Stone made a sharp response concerning Israel/AIPAC influence in US elections/politics but that this was edited out of the final broadcast. This is typical. Furthermore, the Jewish websites which reported on this consider Stone an anti-Semite for even discussing Jewish media influence. https://www.algemeiner.com/2017/06/15/director-oliver-stone-reportedly-went-on-unaired-anti-israel-rant-on-stephen-colberts-late-show/

    The reality is that Israel enjoys the committed support of American Jewish Zionist elites and nothing will change as long as that support continues. The question which need to be asked is why these Jewish fat-cats like Saban and Adelson support Israel and Zionism? What is in it for them? Surely this would be a topic of interest for Mondoweiss.

  6. Bont Eastlake
    June 23, 2017, 5:05 pm

    I used to react to news on Israel with feelings of anger and hate, because I knew they were bad but news about them were always glorified and tinged with pro-Israeli emotion so to speak. Mainstream criticism of Israel were always from a I’m dissapointed but I still love you kind of viewpoint which irked me to no end. With only a superficial perspective on the conflict and Israeli state activity, I could only choose to hate them although hate is a irrational emotion.

    But with the rise of social media and croudsource journalism, I was able to access perspectives and first person POV of people from across the entirety of the spectrum. I no longer had to rely on my base emotions to pick a side to support and associate with. With the constant flow of raw, unadultared info it became unnecessary to hate but I felt a righteous anger instead. I felt good about myself and I started to feel a sort of pity towards the Israeli as if I am standing on a higher ground and these people were wallowing in shit like pigs. The stench doesnt reach me anymore, I can see the big picture more clearly and my mental health improved. Now I feel ever more determined to help Palestinians and make Israel accountable for its crime.

  7. ritzl
    June 23, 2017, 5:37 pm

    I would add that the overwhelming mass of demonstrable fiction that constitutes the [related] propaganda about Syria is allowing more people to see how they are being manipulated in a whole raft of areas. Israel is just one, albeit a major (war and peace) one.

    “Russia!!!!” is the other one. Every time I ask a “Russia!!!!” person what they make of, or have to say about, far worse and vastly more blatant Israeli manipulations of US elections and policy I get a blank stare. Whether that’s a “but shared values” blank stare, or an “I never thought about that that way” blank stare it’s hard to tell, but people don’t like to look like incredible dupes and I suspect either way an informed response requires a rethink of some sort. Emphasis on “think.”

    • just
      June 23, 2017, 5:49 pm

      ““Russia!!!!” is the other one. Every time I ask a “Russia!!!!” person what they make of, or have to say about, far worse and vastly more blatant Israeli manipulations of US elections and policy I get a blank stare. Whether that’s a “but shared values” blank stare, or an “I never thought about that that way” blank stare it’s hard to tell, but people don’t like to look like incredible dupes and I suspect either way an informed response requires a rethink of some sort. Emphasis on “think.””

      Bingo, ritzl!

      Thank you.

    • Bont Eastlake
      June 24, 2017, 9:17 am

      Why mention foreign countries? How about the voter manipulation tactics and perversion of the democratic system by the homegrown Republican Party? They are the biggest producers of terrorism domestically and globally, and are holding the entire country hostage through their anti-democratic strategies for power.

      Whatever Russia or Israel can inflict on the American public, the Republicans can outdo by tenfold. From mass incarceration of black and brown citizens to the repealing of the ACA, it seems nobody hate Americans more than fellow Americans themselves!

    • gamal
      June 24, 2017, 9:01 pm

      “Every time I ask a “Russia!!!!” person”

      Rhinoceritis,

      we’ve known about it since Anne Quinney wrote a great article in 2007 “Excess and Identity: The Franco-Romanian Ionescu Combats Rhinoceritis” in the South Central Review

      apparently cliches are toxic, well fancy that.

  8. LHunter
    June 23, 2017, 8:24 pm

    As a Palestinian who left Haifa at the age of three for glorious Canada (or as my Father calls it – Disneyland), I have always been amazed that North Americans were so ill informed about the plight of the Palestinians – after all – most of their religious beliefs were developed in the Holy Land.

    Most of the few Palestinian Canadians I know attributed the lack of coverage on what they called the “Zionist controlled media.” I always shied away from forming or adopting such conclusions choosing instead to believe that the media reports what it feels the masses want (driven by profit) and that with time and the internet the masses would eventually want to know more about the Palestinians. I believed this, but hoped against it, because I believed Israel would continue to flex its muscle and expand its territory which would bring the Palestinian cause to the forefront.

    What I didn’t predict was just how skewed the coverage could be even when one of the most powerful militaries in the world were bombing

    • echinococcus
      June 23, 2017, 11:46 pm

      Hunter,

      What I didn’t predict was just how skewed the coverage could be even when one of the most powerful militaries in the world were bombing

      Not “one of”. The most powerful military in the world, or supposed so, was bombing: the US of A. There is not the slightest doubt about that. It may even be that the number of US citizens among the soldiers was as high as in the US army proper (in the Zionist entity, they don’t have the many Latin Americans obliged to enlist to acquire citizenship.)

      • LHunter
        June 24, 2017, 9:56 pm

        Wonder where the Palestinians rank

      • echinococcus
        June 25, 2017, 12:04 am

        Good one, Hunter.

  9. Kay24
    June 24, 2017, 7:34 am

    The predictable results of sending an inexperienced, and biased man, to broker peace, that no senior diplomat, nor statesman, could ever achieve, for years. A dishonest broker whose family has contributed millions for illegal settlements. Yet another Trump blunder. What a joke!

    http://washingtonjournal.com/2017/06/23/trump-just-sent-kushner-solve-israeli-palestine-conflict-made-worse/

  10. jsinton
    June 24, 2017, 8:21 am

    “Mainstream Americans are not starting from a neutral perspective on Israel; rather, they begin with misperceptions and negative assumptions. This creates “fertile ground” for delegitimization…”

    Patently absurd and delusional. Americans start out with an overwhelmingly positive view of Israel because they’ve been spoon-fed Zionist propaganda their entire lives. Their views are shattered once they learn the truth, then they are angry because they’ve been lied too again. Israel is guilty of self-delegitimization.

  11. RobertHenryEller
    June 24, 2017, 8:23 am

    The problem is not that more and more Americans don’t feel that Israelis don’t share American values.

    The problem is that more and more Americans don’t feel that Israelis don’t adhere to Jewish values.

    I wonder where these Americans get that idea? Could it be from the Ten Commandments? From the teachings of Rabbi Hillel? Such a mystery.

    • Citizen
      June 25, 2017, 5:13 am

      Most Americans never heard of Rabbi Hillel and they don’t view the Ten Commandments as a foreign policy directive

      • Mooser
        June 26, 2017, 10:03 am

        “Most Americans never heard of Rabbi Hillel and they don’t view the Ten Commandments as a foreign policy directive”

        Thanks, “Citizen”.

  12. TRG-42
    June 24, 2017, 11:05 am

    Zionazis are reaping the harvest they have sown: No ordinary Jew in his/her correct state of mind wants to be identified with fascist, genocidal Israel.

  13. German Lefty
    June 24, 2017, 4:18 pm

    I am watching this talk by German politician Annette Groth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IULUrAaa-rQ
    She talks about how negative criticism of Israel is suppressed by the different parties, institutions and the media. She also said that she agrees with Gideon Levy, who apparently stated that there’s no freedom of speech in Germany when it comes to Israel.

    • Citizen
      June 25, 2017, 5:13 am

      She’s being truthful, honest

    • LHunter
      June 26, 2017, 5:17 pm

      Wish it was subtitled – I’d love to know more about what was said.

      I’ve heard Germans shy away from criticising Israeli policies because of what some have called “holocaust guilt.”

      http://www.jns.org/latest-articles/2015/8/21/german-memorials-reveal-clash-between-holocaust-guilt-and-anti-zionism#.WVFw0hkXbqA=

      The article indicates there may be a change in that regard with more and more Germans critically assessing Israeli policies and actions. Personally i believe Germany’s image on the world stage would be much better perceived if they became stalwart supporters and advocates for the oppressed and marginalized Palestinians.

      Do you believe many Germans today shy away from criticising Israeli policies because of this holocaust guilt?

      • Citizen
        June 27, 2017, 8:08 am

        I don’t know who you are asking, but my answer is: ja!

  14. shaun patrick
    June 26, 2017, 6:16 am

    Israel judges itself by its intentions and American Jewish youth judges it by its actions. No one delegitimizes israel they do a wonderful job all by themselves

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