How to Spin Israeli Policy on the Hill



The Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee got its hands on this document, entitled Wexner Analysis: Israeli Communications Priorities 2003, was prepared for the Wexner Foundation, which operates leadership training programs such as theirthright Israel project which offers free trips for young Jewish Americans to Israel, by the public relations firm the Luntz Research Companies and the Israel Project.



Author’s note: This is not a policy document. This document is strictly a communications manual. As with every memo we provide, we have used the same scientific methodology to isolate specific words, phrases, themes and messages that will resonate with at least 70% of the American audience. There will certainly be some people, particularly those on the political left, who will oppose whatever words you use, but the language that follows will help you secure support from a large majority of Americans. These recommendations are based on two “dial test” sessions in Chicago and Los Angeles conducted during the first ten days of the Iraqi war for the Wexner Foundation.


1) Iraq colors all. Saddam is your best defense, even if he is dead. The worldview Americans is entirely dominated by developments in Iraq. This is a unique opportunity for Israelis to deliver a message of support and unity at a time of great international anxiety and opposition from some of our European “allies.” For a year – a SOLID YEAR – you should be invoking the name of Saddam Hussein and how Israel was always behind American efforts to rid the world of this ruthless dictator and liberate their people. Saddam will remain a powerful symbol of terror to Americans for a long time to come. A pro-Israeli expression of solidarity with the American people in their successful effort to remove Saddam will be appreciated.

2) Stick to your message but don’t say it the same way twice. We have seen this in the past but never so starkly as today. Americans are paying very close attention to international developments and are particularly sensitive to any kind of apparent dogma or canned presentations. If they hear you repeating the exact same words over and over again, they will come to distrust your message. If your speakers can’t find different ways to express similar principles, keep them off the air.

3) It DOES NOT HELP when you compliment President Bush. When you want to identify with and align yourself with America, just say it. Don’t use George Bush as a synonym for the United States. Even with the destruction of the Hussein regime and all the positive reactions from the Iraqi people, there still remains about 20% of America that opposes the Iraqi war, and they are overwhelmingly Democrat. That leaves about half the Democrats who support the war even if they don’t support George Bush. You antagonize the latter half unnecessarily every time you compliment the President. Don’t do it.

4) Conveying sensitivity and a sense of values is a must. Most of the best-performing sound bites mention children, families, and democratic values. Don’t just say that Israel is morally aligned with the U.S. Show it in your language. The children component is particularly important. It is essential that you talk about “the day, not long from now, when Palestinian children and Israeli children will play side-by-side as their parents watch approvingly.”

5) “SECURITY” sells. Security has become the key fundamental principle for all Americans. Security is the context by which you should explain Israeli need for loan guarantees and military aid, as well as why Israel can’t just give up land. The settlements are our Achilles heel, and the best response (which is still quite weak) is the need for security that this buffer creates.

6) The language in this document will work, but it will work best when it is accompanied with passion and compassion. Too many supporters of Israel speak out of anger or shout when faced with opposition. Listeners are more likely to accept your arguments if they like how you express them. They will bless these words but they will truly accept them if and only if they accept you.

7) Find yourself a good female spokesperson. In all our testing, women are found to be more credible than men. And if the woman has children, that’s even better.

8) Link Iraqi liberation with the plight of the Palestinian people. It is likely that the most effective argument(s) you have right now are those that link the right of the Iraqi people to live in freedom with the right of the Palestinian people to be governed by those who truly represent them. If you express your concern for the plight of the Palestinian people and how it is unfair, unjust and immoral that they should be forced to accept leaders who steal and kill in their name, you will be building credibility for your support of the average Palestinian while undermining the credibility of their leadership.

9) A little humility goes a long way. You saw this with your own eyes. You need to talk continually about your understanding of “the plight of the Palestinians” and a commitment to helping them. Yes, this IS a double standard (no one expects anything pro-Israeli from the Palestinians) but that’s just the way things are. Humility is a bitter pill to swallow, but it will inoculate you against critiques that you have not done enough for peace. Admit mistakes, but then show how Israel is the partner always working for peace.

10) Of course rhetorical questions work, don’t they? Ask a question to which there is only one answer is hard to lose. It is essential that your communication be laced with rhetorical questions, which is how Jews talk anyway.

11) Mahmoud Abbas is still a question mark. Leave him that way. You stand much more to lose by attacking him now. But similarly, he is not worthy of praise. Talk about your hopes for the future, but lay out the principles you expect him to uphold: an end to violence, a recognition of Israel, reform of his own government, etc.


This document is about language, so let me be blunt. “Saddam Hussein” are the two words that tie Israel to America and are most likely to deliver support in Congress. They also just happen to be two of the most hated words in the English language right now.


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