Republican pollster Frank Luntz is a guru of selling Israel to the American public, and Jewish Philosophy Place has published a Luntz Power Point that looks like a ransom note but is stuffed with polling data that reflects Israel’s crisis in US public opinion post Gaza. Some tidbits from “Communicating the Truth About Israel”.
“Zionist/Zionism a negative,” Luntz concedes. Here’s the data.
What’s your reaction to JUST the following Word / Phrase?
Israel [Favorables] 59 43 74 [59 percent of All respondents, 43 percent of students, 74 percent of “opinion elite”]
Jewish Homeland 49 36 60
Jewish Nation 48 36 58
Zionist/Zionism 21 15 29
Zionism gets the least favorable response. Now Luntz moves on to neutral and unfavorable opinion figures for Zionism:
Neutral: 53 [All respondents] 58 [students] 30 [Opinion elite]
Unfavorable: 26 27 41
So Zionism gets 41 percent unfavorable, 29 percent favorable, among the elite. That’s a problem for the Jewish state.
Luntz says that propagandists for Israel should stop talking about Israel as America’s friend, and just use the ally description. “Some people argue that the US should stop favoring Israel, that it would be better to take a neutral stand,” he frames the challenge. Tell them, “we’re allies.”
Israel is a FRIEND of the U.S. 30 29 26 [Total, students, opinion elite]
Israel is an ALLY of the U.S. 45 37 58
Luntz urges Israel’s supporters not to say that Israel’s critics are “anti-Semitic,” or to argue that anti-Semitism is still a factor in the U.S. in 2014, but to say this instead:
Everyone deserves to call somewhere home. For Jews that were forcibly scattered across the globe again and again for centuries, that home has always been Jerusalem and the land around it. For more than two thousand years and right up to today, the religious, cultural and historic home for Jewish people has been Israel.
Yes and what about the Palestinians who were forcibly scattered?
Luntz also counsels Israel-lovers not to counter the boycott divestment sanctions movement (BDS) head on, but say that the movement divides people and that’s why you shouldn’t support it. The loser argument, he says, is this one. Notice how much power he gives to BDS.
The global BDS movement is understandably appealing to people who are frustrated with Israeli policies and want take tangible steps to end Palestinian suffering. But BDS undermines progressive forces in Israel who are
working for social justice by playing into right wingers in Israel who cultivate an ‘us vs. them, Israel against the world’ mentality.
Cecilie Surasky of JVP picked this document up, at MuzzleWatch and says it reflects Israel’s p.r. crisis:
Lucky for us, it includes a great deal of current, original research on what Americans think about Israel, and what words test well in responding to their doubts. It seems to have been commissioned after Israel’s horrific attacks on Gaza–groups like the Jewish National Fund recognized that the reaction of near universal horror to Israel’s killing of Palestinian civilians was, indeed, the mother of all Israeli public relations problems.
Surasky then posts the video below, saying:
We decided to hunt down the document after spotting Frank with a Powerpoint walking around in an odd new propaganda video filled with well-dressed young Jewish fraternity members–looking like they’d just stopped by on their way to internships on Wall Street. In each interview, these young men seem increasingly isolated and devastated by pro-Palestinian activism on their campuses which they conflate with anti-Semitism. One can’t help but feel for these students. I have no doubt that for many of them, the isolation and confusion they feel is real. And I hope they get support. After all, having your world view turned upside down, and your own power and privilege challenged in ways that make you uncomfortable, is part and parcel of what we used to call a good education.
But it says everything that these students are not at a gathering with therapists, or spiritual leaders, or experts in reconciliation and peace or building a healthy Jewish life on campus. No, they are at a conference with literally one of the world’s greatest propagandists for hire.
Notice that the witnesses on the video are all men. Odd. “I do fear for my life,” one says of being pro-Israel on campus. The young men relate assaults, fractured skulls; and the film ends with the question “Never Again?” as though there’s about to be a Holocaust in the U.S. Somehow I doubt that line would float with Luntz’s respondents in his polling, above. Also this line is in the film:
Being against Israel has become the cool thing to do.