Home > Gaza, Hasbara > Hasbarapocalypse — Leaked Frank Luntz memo: Israeli public diplomacy in US on Flotilla failed dismally

Hasbarapocalypse — Leaked Frank Luntz memo: Israeli public diplomacy in US on Flotilla failed dismally


The Israel Project (TIP), an American Hasbara outfit, commissioned Republican political consultant Frank Luntz to examine the effectiveness of Israel’s public diplomacy in the US on the Flotilla debacle. TIP gave the memo to the Prime Minister’s Office, where someone promptly leaked it to Chico Menashe, Channel Ten TV News diplomatic affairs correspondent.

Luntz’s findings are grim. Here’s a summary:

  1. 56% of Americans agree with the claim that there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza;
  2. 43% of Americans agree with the claim that people in Gaza are starving;
  3. [Only] 34% of Americans support the Israeli operation against the Flotilla;
  4. [Only] 20% of Americans “felt support” for Israel following announcement of easing of Gaza closure.

Menashe wraps:

The figures are troubling and worrisome. If that is the situation with our great friend the US, it is easy to imagine the situation in other, somewhat less sympathetic countries.

Below is the full translated transcript of the report. An embedded link to the video is appended at bottom.


Frank Luntz analyses Netanyahu’s media performance in the flotilla affair

The figures are troubling and worrisome. If that is the situation with our great friend the US, it is easy to imagine the situation in other, somewhat less sympathetic countries.

Channel Ten TV News, July 1 2010 20:38

Yaacov Eilon (host): Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considered to make an extremely persuasive presentation in the world press. But a professional analysis by a US expert presented yesterday to his senior aides strongly criticizes him. Netanyahu’s messages on the flotilla caused more harm than good. Our political correspondent Chico Menashe has obtained the report.

Chico Menashe: Criticism of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s current PR messages and Israeli PR in general comes from the international elite of media consultants and pollsters and from the mouth of Frank Luntz, considered one of the leading American political consultants, a Republican pollster, a consultant to many governments throughout the world and to dozens of the biggest corporations in the US. He was asked by the Jewish organization The Israel Project to check the opinions of the American public on the messages Israel issued to the world during and after the flotilla events. The result is a harsh document that primarily criticizes the media strategy of the person considered Israel’s number one propagandist in the world, Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Netanyahu: Once again Israel faces hypocrisy and a biased rush to judgment.

Chico Menashe: Every time Israeli speakers begin with accusing the international community, writes Luntz, they lose their audience [emphasis mine]. For example, Netanyahu’s comments after the flotilla about the world hypocrisy were rejected by most of the American participants who listened to them. The findings were presented last night to senior members of Netanyahu’s Bureau. Luntz checked the opinions with focus groups, not a poll. He warns of a dangerous slide in the public opinion of the only country considered pro-Israeli, the U.S. Israel misses simple opportunities to change world public opinion, he writes, and the consequences are significant. The American public increasingly hesitates to accept arguments that support Israeli positions.

Ehud Barak: There is no hunger in Gaza and no humanitarian crisis.

Netanyahu: There’s no shortage of food, there’s no shortage of medicine, there’s no shortage of other goods.

Chico Menashe: Luntz says Israel must immediately stop using the argument that there is no hunger and no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. He says this fatally destroys Israel’s credibility in light of the images on the television screens. Israel must admit that there is a problem, he says, to gain the listeners’ sympathy [emphasis mine]. Luntz finds the troubling figure that 56% of participants agree with the claim that there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and no less astonishing is that 43% of participants from the American public agree with the claim that people in Gaza are starving. But even lifting the closure that was supposed to improve Israel’s image missed the opportunity, according to Luntz.

Netanyahu: Yesterday an important decision was made by the security cabinet. Its meaning is clear. On the one hand, allowing civilian goods into Gaza, and on the other hand maintaining the military blockade of Hamas.

Chico Menashe: The statement by Netanyahu’s bureau of lifting the closure missed the opportunity to gain support in international public opinion [emphasis mine]. Only 20% of the Americans polled felt support of Israel following the statement. According to Luntz, this is the summary of the flotilla damage in American public opinion: Only 34% of the American public support the Israeli operation against the flotilla, and he says that is a dangerously low percentage.

Categories: Gaza, Hasbara
  1. Chaya
    July 5, 2010 at 20:42

    This is because we were put on the defensive and didn’t come out with videos soon enough to show the world what really happened on the ships. And also because the MSM don’t really give Israel’s side of the story.

  2. Aaron
    July 5, 2010 at 21:22

    Chaya – there’s nothing defensive in travelling more than 50 miles beyond Israel’s territorials waters to launch a dead-of-night commando raid on a humanitarian convoy. On the video: I suspect many people are still wondering why Israel jammed live satellite broadcasts from the flotilla during the raid, systematically confiscated all non-Israeli recordings (photos and video, CCTV) of the raid, and treated approx. 60 journalists onboard like common criminals. Those actions, along with subsequent activist and journalists testimony and Israel’s refusal to support an independent international investigation suggest events during the raid vary significantly from the hasbara explanation.

  3. walt kovacs
    July 6, 2010 at 02:04

    it was not a “humanitarian aid” flotilla

    only 3 of the 6 ships carried any aid

    the ihh, ism and free gaza movement have all been clearly tied to terrorist organizations.

    jamming the broadcast is normal procedure in all raids of this nature…and not all the broadcasts were jammed…i was watching the turkish tv feed while it was happening.

    there is no need for an “independent” investigation, as we have seen when one of those takes place.

    the lee video supports the idf claims.

    proof that the msm doesnt care to tell the entire story. only german tv and one independent journalist has done any investigative reporting on ihh. and the independent journalist, whose work can be seen here


    needs to go to the public to raise funds in order to put her project together.

    as for luntz, i would love to see his raw data.

    there is no one starving in gaza…not even the un claims this.

  4. dickerson3870
    July 6, 2010 at 02:14

    RE: “…we..didn’t come out with videos soon enough to show the world what really happened on the ships” – Chaya
    MY QUESTION: Do you know “what really happened on the ships”? So the world is mistaken, but you know the truth?

    • Magus
      July 6, 2010 at 03:49

      I think the various IDFspokesperson videos did a great job showing what happened.

  5. Magus
    July 6, 2010 at 03:14

    This post seems unbelievable to me, especially those numbers on what Americans think. Maybe from the small group Luntz was with (if he was really doing this) but certainly not all of America. The polls I’ve seen in America say pretty much the opposite. When you see Luntz in the video his group is on the Brown election and the other Luntz insert is not on Israel either. So why should I believe any of this?

  6. Oraneem
    July 6, 2010 at 08:29

    Magus — certainly no reason to believe any results from the polls. I mean, they don’t fit with what you believe, so they can’t be true, right?

    • Magus
      July 7, 2010 at 11:18

      The numbers presented in the article were not complete.

      Here are the poll numbers. Looks like it was taken BEFORE enough information was out in the MSM on what happened.

      NBC/Wall Street Journal Political Survey
      In the Middle East situation, are your sympathies more with Israel or more with the Arab nations?

      * More with Israel 61%
      * More with the Arab nations 12%

      As you may know, Israeli troops recently intercepted some ships carrying supplies to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, and nine people on board one of the supply ships were killed by Israeli soldiers. Which of the following statements comes closer to your point of view on this situation? If you don’t know enough about the situation to have an opinion, just say so.

      * Israel was defending its interests in Gaza and their military actions were justified. 34%
      * Israel went too far and their military actions were NOT justified. 29%
      * Don’t know enough 32%

      Now that more information has been released the numbers on the flotilla might be different. I would think the numbers from the “Don’t know enough” would change in favor of Israel’s actions being justified. Just my opinion.

  7. piotr
    July 6, 2010 at 08:46

    Perhaps the number are not that bad. I would need to know if the they imply negative opinions about Israel. For example, there may be a percentage of Americans who think that there SHOULD be a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. A speech of Sen. Schumer may be interpreted exactly like that, to give an example. Of those people, answers “there is no crisis” is critical toward Israel (the government is too soft, and by the way, why they just did not torpedo the flotilla?), and the answers “there is a crisis” is supportive.

    However, for people who do not think that way, the idea that it is a legitimate strategy to control what quantity and quality of food the “enemy population” can eat is hard to accept. To the degree Israeli spokespeople explain that this policy does not lead to the crisis, it draws attention to the fact what does Israel control, which is bizarre. This is something that it is easy to forget when you are inside the circle of official Israeli rhetoric — the siege of Gaza is perhaps not the most inhumane and most cruel, but it is really, really bizarre. A bureaucracy that decides on one day that allowing coriander would imply giving in to terrorism? And the other day, coriander is fine, but no peppercorns, and only one kind of hot peppers. Or blocks shoes for two years? And now, they perhaps check if shoes are not overly convenient? It takes a lot of education to figure out that this is not simple idiocy.

    And now, videos of the attack on flotilla. Many Americans think that if someone enters your premises without invitation, you can gun him down. So again, of those who got quickly convinced that Israeli troops were beaten up, many would think that this was OK. And then there is a question if beaten up soldier is a victim, or an incompetent? If the first troopers were defenseless, should they had been defenseless? Were they at least adorable? Videos were inconclusive on that important point.

  8. Russ
    July 8, 2010 at 23:48

    In regards to a humanitarian crisis, if the translation is correct, this Danish reporter seems to disagree:




  9. Greta Berlin, Co founder The Free Gaza Movement
    July 9, 2010 at 10:38

    The reason the hasbara story did not take is because it’s full of lies. Let’s just look at two reasons. The Israeli Occupation Forces (IDF) put out an audio tape that was horribly doctored, then had to retract it, because many of us had already heard the original, and ALL captains on board ALL ships heard each other over Channel 16. All verified that the doctored conversation never happened. Then the hasbara Israelis put out the video tape of the passengers beating the soldiers. The problem was that the time code is covered at the top, and several news agencies have already verified that this incident occurred in broad daylight at least 30-45 minutes after the soldiers boarded. Pretty much everyone thinks that we have the right to self defense, and it’s obvious that it is self defense.

    Add to this the Israeli spin that they attacked us because they were afraid they were going to be lynched, then the secreted photos revealed that our doctors actually treated the Israeli soldiers who were wounded in the fracus.

    So… Israel is not going to win this PR battle, because they do not have a leg to stand on. The only terrorists on board those boats came from the Israeli navy, and the only guns that came on board came from Israel

  10. July 22, 2010 at 22:57

    If you care for the gazan people:
    a. Don’t send expired medication as this only cause trouble.
    b. make sure you deliver through the UN or the Red Cross because otherwise goods are being confiscated by Hamas which just sell them on to raise money and this never goes to the people who needs it.
    c. make sure it’s actually needed. A lot of people just assume everything is needed although many goods are being sold for half price than in egypt/jordan/lebanon because there is so much. So pay attention to what you choose to donate.
    d. don’t listen to Hamas and Abbas because they steal everything they can and never invest the money in us. A lot of us work in the Israeli settlements, when you ban their products you are actually causing our people to lose a lot of their jobs.

    Thank you
    Salim Abdul-Karem (writing from Gaza)

  1. July 5, 2010 at 16:41
  2. July 5, 2010 at 16:49
  3. July 5, 2010 at 16:54
  4. July 5, 2010 at 17:15
  5. July 5, 2010 at 20:39
  6. July 5, 2010 at 22:14
  7. July 6, 2010 at 01:47
  8. July 6, 2010 at 03:45
  9. July 6, 2010 at 11:40
  10. July 6, 2010 at 16:04
  11. July 6, 2010 at 21:15
  12. July 6, 2010 at 22:16
  13. July 10, 2010 at 22:38
  14. July 11, 2010 at 16:57

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