HBD: Human Biodiversity

Why Chutzpah is a Hebrew Word

It’s fitting that chutzpah is a Hebrew word.  Newsweek reports 

How do you sell the American public on the idea that Israel has the right to maintain or even expand Jewish settlements in the West Bank? Be positive. Turn the issue away from settlements and toward peace. Invoke ethnic cleansing.

Those are three of the recommendations made by Frank Luntz, a political consultant and pollster, in an internal study he wrote for the Washington-based group The Israel Project (TIP) on effective ways to talk to Americans about the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. The 117-page study, titled The Israel Project's 2009 Global Language Dictionary, was commissioned by the nonprofit group, which aims to promote Israel's side of the story, and leaked to NEWSWEEK. It includes chapters with such titles as "How to Talk About Palestinian Self Government and Prosperity" and "The Language of Tackling a Nuclear Iran."

The report is strewn with bolded examples of "Words That Work" and "Words That Don't Work," alongside rhetorical tips such as "Don't talk about religion" and "No matter what you're asked, bridge to a productive pro-Israel message." Taken together, the 18 chapters offer a fascinating look at the way Israel and its supporters try to shape the public debate in their favor...

In the report, Luntz describes the "best settlement argument" as one that draws a parallel between the Arab communities in Israel and the Jewish settlers in the West Bank—and refers to the idea of evacuating Jews as racist. "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," he suggests saying. "We don't say that we have to cleanse out Arabs from Israel. They are citizens 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."

One line of argument that Luntz says actually harms the cause is Israel's policy of restricting Arab housing construction in East Jerusalem: "The arguments about demolishing Palestinian homes because they are not within the Jerusalem building code tested SO badly that we are not even going to dignify them with a Word's That Don't Work box. Americans hate their own local planning boards for telling them where they can and can't put swimming pools or build fences. You don't need to import that animosity into your own credibility issues. Worse yet, talking about 'violations of building codes' when a TV station is showing the removal of a house that looks older than the modern state of Israel is simply catastrophic."

Luntz gets paid for this?  On one hand, it seems obvious.  If you want to win an argument in America, call your opponent racist.  I bet the best way to put out a pro-life message is to say that blacks tend to have more abortions.  If you’re pro-choice, go around saying abortion bans would disproportionately restrict the freedom of women from “communities of color.”  But the “r card” being used by the only racialist state in the world this side of North Korea to justify its expansion?  That’s chutzpah. 

In the report itself , Luntz reccomends saying 

"As a matter of principle, we believe that it is a basic right of children to be raised without hate. We ask the Palestinian leadership to end the culture of hate in Palestinian schools, 300 of which are named for suicide bombers. Palestinian leaders should take textbooks out of classrooms that show maps of the Middle East without Israel and that glorify terrorism."

Muslim terrorists deliberately target innocent people.  "Democracies" like America and Israel target their enemies knowing that in the process innocent people will be killed.  There's supposed to be a moral difference here?

Notice that the word “hate.”  In selling an idea to Saudi Arabians you’d probably need to frame it in a way that made it clear that it was compatible with or, better, required by Islam.  It’s a sign that multiculturalism is our religion that everything moral has to be framed as against “racism” or “hate.” 

Luntz’s report is also filled with Machiavellian tips like

A simple rule of thumb is that once you get to the point of repeating the same message over and over again so many times that you think you might get sick—that is just about the time the public will wake up and say “Hey—this person just might be saying something interesting to me!” 


K.I.S.S. and tell and tell again and again. A key rule of successful communications is“Keep It Simple, Stupid”. Successful communications is not about being able to recite every fact from the long history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is about pointing out a few core principles of shared values—such as democracy and freedom—and repeating them over and over again.

In other words, the masses are stupid.  Get them on your side the way you'd educate a slow kid: say what you'd like him to learn again and again in the simplest terms possible.  This is great advice to anybody and why a "Jews good, Arab bad" message consistently repeated has beat out a more nuanced view of the situation in the Middle East.