luntz: overgrown schoolboy

Netanyahu’s ghost on ‘ethnic cleansing’ video is Frank Luntz
Phil Weiss, Yakov Hirsch, MondoWeiss, Sep 13 2016


During the last few weeks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has launched an effort to sway the world with short, English language video sermons on the conflict; and the latest has caused a diplomatic blowup with Pindostan: the Orwellian video Netanyahu put out last Friday titled “No Jews,” in which he said that “enlightened” countries’ pressure on Israel to remove settlements from Palestine is a demand for “ethnic cleansing” that those countries would never tolerate within their borders. Netanyahu was trying to flip the script from the story that his country chokes and removes Palestinian communities on the West Bank, demolishes Palestinian houses, and has no interest in allowing a Palestinian state. The State Dept called out that policy in angrily denouncing the video, while Palestinian leader Ahmed Tibi wrote, that Netanyahu’s statements were “immoral … total departure from rationality, history and Israel’s obligations under international law.” Pindosi liberal Zionists were also upset. J Street said that Netanyahu’s claims are “really absurd” because Israel has “systematically seized and occupied land,” and Josh Marshall described the performance as an embarrassment to Pindosi Jews. On Sunday in Haaretz, Barak Ravid reported a bombshell fact that the Pindosi media typically regard with indifference: Netanyahu’s clever language came from a Pindosi, Republican pollster Frank Luntz, whom the Atlantic called the “wordsmith … political opinion guru … master political manipulator.” Ravid wrote:

[L]arge swaths of Netanyahu’s remarks and arguments were taken from a 2009 document put together by Frank Luntz, a prominent Pindostani political consultant who is identified with the Republican Party and those in the Pindosi far-right. Israel’s ambassador to Pindostan, Ron Dermer, who is a close associate of the prime minister, worked with Luntz in the early 1990s. Luntz developed the public diplomacy document for the Israel Project… Page 62 of the document states in part that ethnic cleansing is the best argument in response to the settlement issue when it comes to the Pindosi public. In his video, Netanyahu repeated Luntz’s text almost word-for-word.

The document that Luntz prepared for the rightwing Israel project was titled “The Global Language Dictionary” and was an effort to sell Israel’s refusal to accept a two-state solution to the Pindo sheeple in feel-good terms. It includes “The Best Settlement Argument,” which is pretty much what Netanyahu said the other day, we’re for co-existence. Luntz wrote:

If we are to have real peace, then Israelis and Palestinians will have to live side by side. The idea that anywhere that you have Palestinians there can’t be any Jews, that some areas have to be Jew-free, is a racist idea. We don’t say that we have to cleanse out Arabs from Israel. They are citizen of Israel. They enjoy equal rights. We cannot see why it is that peace requires that any Palestinian area would require a kind of ethnic cleansing to remove all Jews. We don’t accept it. Cleansing by either side against either side is unacceptable.

In his video last week, Netanyahu used that Jew-free allegation (“Yet the Palestinian leadership actually demands a Palestinian state with ONE precondition: No Jews”) and deployed Luntz-like imagery to suggest that everyone else is a bigot, but not Israel. Netanyahu:

Since when is bigotry a foundation for peace? At This moment, Jewish school children in Yesha are playing in sandboxes with their friends. Does their presence make peace impossible? I don’t think so.

And if you go back to the “Global Language Dictionary” from 2009, it turns out that Luntz got a lot of the language from Netanyahu himself, who you should never forget was once a furniture salesman. Luntz writes:

Here’s the best news: virtually all of the language in this chapter comes directly from PM Netanyahu himself. These words are both in line with the Israeli administration’s policy and highly effective. That’s what we call a homerun in Pindostan. The challenge now is to get all of Israel’s spokespersons hitting the same notes.

Luntz and Netanyahu are twins in their effort to sell unpopular ideas. The wisecracking 54-year-old pollster, who reportedly urged Bush 43 to use the words “climate change” instead of “global warming,” is the son of Connecticut Jewish textbook authors (per Wikipedia), and an ardent Zionist. He has counselled many Israeli Jewish politicians from all parties, according to the JPost, because he is “pained by Israel’s inadequate but improving performance in hasbara … (he is) a Zionist who insists he has no partisan preferences here.” In that interview three years ago, Luntz adopted the classic armchair-irresponsible Pindo-Jewish line about never criticizing anything Israel does:

It’s not for people who don’t live here to tell you what you should do. My job is to help you communicate your policy effectively. … I need Israel to be able to fight another day – linguistically, not just physically. And if there is a misperception, there has to be a better way to educate and communicate and inform.

His work is fully in line with the Israel Project’s goal, to package intolerant policies as Ben and Jerry’s latest flavor:

I exist because The Israel Project exists. And the reason The Israel Project exists is because nobody was focusing on the impact of messaging – not the delivery of it, but the impact of it. To this day there is insufficient appreciation of the impact that words, and how they are delivered, can have on audiences.

Netanyahu’s recent barrage of videos surely reflect Luntz’s theme, shaping communications for an idealistic Pindosi audience:

I really hope that the Israeli leadership realizes that the American political situation is not the same today as it was two years or four years or six years ago. And just as leaders have changed, the communication should change.

On Fresh Air in 2007, per Wikipedia, Luntz sought to portray the term “Orwellian” in a “positive” sense, as an effort to communicate a meaning succinctly. In his JPost interview, the streetsmart Luntz described his battle to turn Jewish students into warriors for Israel, and do so by tricky tactics:

We did a session with MIT and Harvard students. The best of the best. We had 35 people in the room: 20 of them were non-Jewish, 15 were Jewish. And I didn’t tell anyone who was which. And I’d recruited them by telling them “we’re going to talk about Iraq, Iran and the Middle East,” not telling them that the real focus was Israel. … It was so crowded that we had kids sitting on the floor. But that added to the intensity. They felt like they were in a dorm room. And within 10 minutes, the non-Jews started with “the war crimes of Israel,” with “the Jewish lobby,” with “the Jews have a lot more power and influence,” stuff that’s borderline anti-Jewish. And guess what? Did the Jewish kids at the best schools in Pindostan, did they stand up for themselves? Did they challenge the assertions? They didn’t say shit. And in that group was the leader of the Israeli caucus at Harvard. It took him 49 minutes of this before he responded to anything. The group is over. It’s a three-hour group. I then say, “Who’s Jewish, who isn’t?” And at that point some of the Jewish kids got a little outraged. I dismiss all the non-Jewish kids. And the Jewish kids are there. And they’re now ticked at me for doing this, you know, “Why have you segregated us?” I said, “I’m Frank Luntz and I’m Jewish, and I’ve been working on this now for 10 years, and you all didn’t say shit.” And it all dawned on them: If they won’t say it to their classmates, who they know, who will they stand up for Israel to?

So that’s where the Zionist project has taken the Jewish people. It has led to the tricking and isolating and embarrassing of the smartest and brightest young Jewish kids in the world, to guilt them to memorize an Orwellian immoral document, whose goal is to obfuscate, to celebrate tendentiousness, in order to defend the indefensible. All in the name of, and great cause of, Jewish ethnic loyalty. It has led to a permanent Prime Minister. Who now instead of duping his customers into buying a form fitting bed is using his grade B acting skills to try to sell the world on a permanent Israeli occupation.

Jeffrey Goldberg will be silent till he finds a way to spin all the bad-for-the-Jews news from Israel
Yakov Hirsch, MondoWeiss, Sep 13 2016

1200x-1Photo: Steve Voss, Bloomberg

What was Bibi’s erstwhile partner in crime Jeffrey Goldberg up to this weekend with all the excitement going on on his Jewish/Israel beat? Last week, the most influential Jewish journalist in Pindostan was trying to lose the nickname his journalism over the years had won him, Netanyahu stenographer, by calling Netanyahu a bad name. He gratuitously called Netanyahu “manipulative” in one of his articles, thus distancing himself from the prime minister as well as announcing his availability as a stenographer to Ehud Barak, Moshe Ya’alon and maybe most importantly the upstart Israeli politician Yair Lapid. Then the news hit. Netanyahu’s “No Jews” video dropped Friday, and ethnic cleansing charges flew in all directions. In Haaretz, Barak Ravid wrote that this Netanyahu video might even be a game-changer. White House and State Dept officials were “livid.” They viewed Netanyahu’s remarks as “targeting them.” The prime minister might have antagonized Washington one time too many and pushed Obama “to the Security Council.” J Street leaped on the video, while Donald Trump’s adviser on USrael relations, David Friedman, in an interview with Haaretz, took great umbrage at the Obama administration’s statement. Friedman did one better than “No Jews” or even “ethnic cleansing,” saying:

PM Netanyahu makes exactly the right point. (The Palestinians’) so-called ‘state’ is required to be, as the Nazis said, Judenrein (devoid of Jews).

And every article written about this video expressed the same bewilderment: why did Netanyahu do it? The video made sense to nobody. Ravid quoted some Washington official wondering why Netanyahu would “spit in their faces” when they’re trying to be so nice to him and to Israel. William Booth in the WaPo said:

Why did Netanyahu issue this video now?

And what about the fact that Netanyahu was repeating Frank Luntz “almost word for word”? There is no-one more suited than Jeffrey Goldberg to explain to Pindostanis how to understand these events. After all, one of Goldberg’s claims to fame is his unique gift in understanding the personal/political nuances that elude everyone else. Recall that just a couple of years ago, Goldberg chastised Andrew Sullivan for not understanding Netanyahu:

The politics, contradictions and motivations of Netanyahu’s approach to Obama do not interest Andrew. Netanyahu’s apparently self-evident evilness is what interests him.

Now that is exactly what the whole world was waiting for Jeffrey Goldberg to explain. What exactly were the “The politics, contradictions and motivations of Netanyahu’s approach to Obama” with his video that all of Washington and Jerusalem were talking about? But Goldberg’s tweets reveal something very surprising: there is no mention of Netanyahu. No mention of the “no Jews” video, or the State Department rebuke, or even Trump’s adviser’s “Judenrein” reach. Why is Jeffrey ignoring these major stories? The answer could be that Goldberg was holding firm to his one journalist ethic, that he never compromises on, no matter how big the the story. And that is (as Gideon Levy noted): to never write anything that would make neo-Nazis happy. Certainly Goldberg would be right to think so. All this craziness coming from Netanyahu, and the back and forth with Washington and the Trump campaign – it is sure to make a few neo-Nazis somewhere very happy. I don’t think that’s what’s going on. There is now a lot of news coming from Israel that Goldberg hasn’t explained. His non-Nazi twitter followers are beginning to wonder, why isn’t he commenting? Yes, we have received guidance already from Goldberg on many important stories: that BDS = ISIS, and J Street = Hamas, and the British Labour Party = Nazi party circa 1938. But there is other news in the world besides those Israel-haters, and lately his followers might have been getting a sense that Goldberg is withholding something. That he has been keeping secrets from them about Israel/Palestine.

I think what is actually preoccupying Goldberg and keeping him silent is not the fear of giving comfort to the neo-Nazis, but concern about non-Aryans, including himself. With each new story from Israel that Goldberg ignores he knows he is jeopardizing his reputation as the go-to Israel expert for the Pindosi establishment. But alas, Jeffrey has no choice, because until he discovers the words, the language, the spin, the narrative, that changes the relentless “bad for the Jews” news coming from Israel, the voluble Goldberg will find silence a virtue. Until he figures out for himself the “words that work” (to quote Frank Luntz), his vow of silence about all things Israel must continue. This weekend was no exception. Jeffrey Goldberg is in trouble. What is the right hasbara for the execution of a Palestinian lying incapacitated on the ground and the trial of the Israeli killer-sergeant that is now dividing Israel’s establishment with some saying the society has become fascist? It doesn’t exist. But that is on the test! It is happening in real life, and Goldberg can’t figure out what to say. He still can’t think of any spin to change the recent Zionist reality. And when Jeffrey Goldberg is stumped about what to say about Israel, he finds it most comforting to talk about neo-Nazi Trump supporters and the antisemitic British Labor party for good measure. And that’s exactly what he did again this weekend.

The eyes of the world are on Jeffrey Goldberg. He has told us so much, but we are still greedy for more. We know what he thinks about Donald Trump. We know what he thinks about David Duke. We know what he thinks of Walt & Mearsheimer. We know what he thinks about BDS. We know what he thinks of the self-hating Jews at Haaretz. But it’s not enough. We would love to know what he thinks of the Elor Azaria execution video that is now the focus of Israel and the General Yair Golan Holocaust memorial speech that said that Nazi trends were recurrent in Israel, and Netanyahu’s replacing Ya’alon with Lieberman and Ya’alon warning about fascism. We would even be happy if Jeffrey just shared his thoughts on ex-Mossad head Ephraim Halevy. Goldberg must have seen Halevy’s interview, where he mocked the notion that Iran was an existential threat to Israel, saying “maybe in a thousand years”? And when he told al-Jazeera viewers the “secret” that every Israeli commander on the border with Gaza believes Israel should negotiate with Hamas? Or what about his belief that there “is a link between Israel’s occupation and Palestinian violence,” and that Israelis should “expect” that Palestinians feel they “have to fight against it”? We trust Goldberg understands the situation in the Middle East better than the ex-Mossad chief does. We know Goldberg doesn’t agree with self-hating Jews like Halevy. We are just waiting for him to enlighten us.

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