Israel’s Subtle Propaganda Strategy

The Israel Lobby at Work

Part I – United States Senator Cardin Echoes the Israeli Line

Propaganda is most effective when subtly planted and the reader remains unaware that a commentary is actually indoctrination. Sometimes the writer is not cognizant that what he has published has been moved by its propaganda effect — sources for the material are actually misleading and publication is facilitated when the commentary fits a particular agenda.

Two recent publications, a response by United States Senator Benjamin Cardin to an Amnesty International plea and an article in Newsweek magazine, “A Plan of Attack for Peace by Daniel Klaidman” (Jan. 12, 2009), demonstrate how far Israel’s supporters can reach to mislead the public. The former remarks, coming from a US Senator, are particularly insidious — careless disregard for a defenseless Palestinian community and an excuse for those whom Amnesty International considers to have shown a lopsided response to the recent violence and who have exhibited lackadaisical efforts to ameliorate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

This article appears in two parts, each of which is a separate article.

Senator Cardin Echoes the Israeli Line

Amnesty International, a well-respected and politically neutral organization, expressed alarm at the events in Gaza and alerted its vast US constituency to prompt their senators to ameliorate the situation. Instead of replying to the urgencies requested by the message, Benjamin Cardin, US Senator from Maryland, responded with general and vague comments and used the e-mail opportunity to indoctrinate his constituents into believing that the violence and killing were all due to Hamas. An insensitivity to creating problems for Jewish people, which might arise from his remarks, added to Senator Cardin’s deceptive manner.

First the Amnesty International e-mail:

With innocent civilians, women and children dying every day, Congress must act.

Tell Congress to help get more humanitarian aid into Gaza and to suspend all transfers of weapons to Israel.

Dear xxxx,

20 days into the Gaza crisis and the humanitarian crisis there gets worse every day.

Over 1000 Palestinians have been killed; 398 women and children are dead, another 4500 injured, 750,000 lack access to water and one million are without electricity. Thirteen Israelis, including three civilians have been killed.

Each day that passes guarantees more innocent civilians will suffer. Tell Congress to act swiftly to help more humanitarian aid and workers enter Gaza and to suspend all transfers of weapons to Israel.

Almost 30,000 of you sent letters to Secretary Rice. Your letters together in concert with separate parallel actions from other Amnesty sections around the world helped bring about a positive vote at the UN late last week2-6. The UN passed a binding resolution 14-0 on January 8th calling for an immediate cease-fire.

But despite mounting evidence of war crimes, both Israel and Palestinian armed groups continue to defy the resolution.

It’s critical that Congress acts. Congress can take two actions that will make a significant impact on the ground:

1. Urge Israel to allow for increased humanitarian supplies into Gaza and press Egypt to allow more wounded Palestinians to seek medical treatment in Egypt.

The Israeli three hour truce to allow for humanitarian supplies to enter Gaza is not sufficient. A spokesman for the UN relief agency UNWRA said “When you are trying to feed 750,000 people a day in Gaza as we are, you need a permanent ceasefire. You can’t do that in a three-hour window.”

Although Egypt has opened the Rafah crossing allowing limited medical help in and injured Palestinians out, the number allowed to seek medical care outside of Gaza needs to increase dramatically. There are currently 4500 wounded Palestinians.

2. Suspend all transfers of weapons to Israel until there is no longer a substantial risk that they will be used for serious violations of human rights or international humanitarian law — such as in attacks that disproportionately kill civilians — while pressing all sides to stop unlawful attacks.

AI is calling for a comprehensive arms embargo on Israel, Hamas and Palestinian armed groups. The US Arms Export Act of 1976 was passed to help guarantee that US-made weapons would only be used for legitimate self-defense and not for violations of internationally recognized human rights. The act requires the State Department to report to Congress when there is a ‘’substantial violation” of the law.

These demands comply with widely recognized international human rights law. Tell Congress to act now, and then please forward this email. Time has run out for the civilians of Gaza and Israel.

Curt Goering
Deputy Executive Director

Senator Cardin’s reply, complete with punctuation errors, to the Amnesty International message sent to him by a constituent.

Thank you for contacting me regarding the current conflict between Israel and Hamas.

I share your sadness at the suffering and loss of innocent lives on both sides of this conflict. The international community needs to take strong action to restart the peace process and provide more humanitarian assistance in Gaza .

Hamas’ actions to extend its reach deeper into Israel and its failure to end continuing attacks exacerbates the already fragile humanitarian situation for the residents of Gaza and undermines efforts to attain peace and security in the region. As a result of the fighting, Gaza City and its main medical center, Shiffa Hospital , have been left without electricity and hospitals are pushed beyond their capacity to handle the number of victims. Hamas seems to care more about inflicting damage on Israel than the protection and welfare of its own citizens.

Hamas poses a critical challenge to the regional peace process. Labeled as a terrorist organization but holding seats in the Palestinian government and acting as the controlling authority in Gaza , the organization’s leaders encourage violence and cling to the belief that Israel itself should be destroyed. Questions remain as to whether or not the organization should even be included in peace negotiations, but the fact remains that the threat Hamas poses to Israel is an obstacle to any negotiation efforts.

The U.S. has also continued to provide humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians. It is equally important for the U.S. to take an active role in bringing stability in the region, so that all Palestinians and Israelis can live in peace. I share your concern about the continuing violence and loss of innocent lives in the region, and I support providing U.S. aid to the area. The continuation of violence between Hamas and Israeli forces is straining the progress . I urge Israel and the Palestinians take advantage of the current, high-level European efforts to broker a sustainable cease-fire and a negotiated peaceful settlement.

Rest assured I support continued aggressive diplomatic involvement. The U.S. objective must be for a peaceful and long-lasting resolution to this conflict. Again, thank you for contacting me on this important issue.

Please visit my website at to sign up for my e-newsletter.

Note that Senator Cardin does not respond with specifics to any of the humanitarian demands and ignores Amnesty Internationals’ request to: “Tell Congress to act swiftly to help more humanitarian aid and workers enter Gaza and to suspend all transfer of weapons to Israel.”

The Maryland senator shows no regard for the Maryland citizen’s concerns and, in an about face, uses the email exchange to instruct the sender about the crisis.

Unsubstantiated rumors and private opinions that mainly describe Hamas’ “role” in the violence highlight his response. Note the unnecessary insertion of the computer-generated macro adjectives normally used to describe Hamas: “the organization’s leaders encourage violence and cling to the belief that Israel itself should be destroyed.”

Senator Cardin happens to be Jewish. This does not mean he cannot express support for Israel. However, a Senator of Jewish faith should recognize that unqualified support for Israel leaves Jews open to attack by those who suspect that elected Jews use their official office to promote Israel’s agenda regardless of its effects on the U.S. and the world’s peoples. Senator Cardin’s obvious propaganda thrust reflects poorly on the Jewish people and contributes to dangers confronting them.

Just an irresponsible response to a responsible email or another example of how far Israel’s supporters can reach to mislead the public?

Dan Lieberman publishes commentaries on foreign policy, economics, and politics at  He is author of the non-fiction books A Third Party Can Succeed in America, Not until They Were Gone, Think Tanks of DC, The Artistry of a Dog, and a novel: The Victory (under a pen name, David L. McWellan). Read other articles by Dan.

7 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on February 11th, 2009 at 12:56pm #

    curt goering,
    one cld ask for an arms embargo on israel and palsetinians only after israel ends the occupation, allows return of expelled people and their descendants (or get compensation if pals agree to that), and establishment not of a ‘viable’ [what does that mean?] state but of a state as existed prior to june ’67.

    disregarding these factors and dwelling on factors after ’67 is to me hunting for the snark. or, worse yet, musings on qassams and what these cause is to me quite disingenuous and will lead to yet another dismal failure and more crimes by US/Irsael/Europe. thnx

  2. Tennessee-Socialist said on February 11th, 2009 at 5:42pm #

    i cannot understand how can Israeli citizens choose right-wing parties, not even in USA right wing ideology is succeeding

  3. Barry said on February 11th, 2009 at 6:52pm #

    TennSoc – Israeli Jews live largely in a state of ignorance about their own history. Both parties – now three parties – and the media all work hard to keep Israelis in a state of continual paranoia. A major survey shows that Israelis do not care a wit about the occupation – they think the occupation is no excuse for bad behavior on the part of Palestinians. Most Israelis don’t even know that their country was won via ethnic cleansing – that the Palestinians were mass murdered and terrorized out of the country. Most – or maybe about half – think that Palestinians were welcomed by Israel, but fled of their own accord. (Finally, however, Israeli school textbooks are starting to reflect this ‘new’ history. I suppose there was finally a lie to big to deny.) Another thing, a goodly percentage of Israelis think that Jews were a majority at the turn of the last century (1899-1900). They have no idea what the true population ratios were. And Jews think Arafat directed the Intifadas. They cannot believe that a people would be fed up enough to take matters into their own hands. Arafat was actually a late arrival to these affairs. Basically, the Israeli public is delusional. That’s why they vote wrong every time. This Livni woman is likely the reincarnation of Golda Meier – as racist a person as one could ever imagine. Seems like women in power have to prove their balls are bigger than a guy’s. (Regarding an ignorant populace, we see similar behavior and attitudes in the US as well – a deluded population that votes conservative over and over and then when their child or grandchild is born with say, Down’s Syndrome, wonder why there is no public funding or support for their plight. Or they’ll be out of a job with medical bills up the wazoo but vote Republican because they will stop two gay guys in San Francisco from tying the knot.
    Same thing in Israel, but worse – because it yields mass murder.

  4. dino said on February 11th, 2009 at 10:06pm #

    Why Israeli elect right?because the racist s elect right.The mentality of Israeli people had been described very well by Jose Saramago.I took the quote from wikipedia which added that the Saramago’s words caused controversy.The fragment is eloquent on how to build intellectual terror:”Israel wants all of us to feel guilty…

    “Saramago has also aroused controversy as a result of his opposition to Israel’s actions in Palestine and Lebanon. In 2002, he wrote in El País, the international Spanish-language paper of record, that Israel brutalizes Palestinians because of Judaism itself.

    Intoxicated mentally by the messianic dream of a Greater Israel which will finally achieve the expansionist dreams of the most radical Zionism; contaminated by the monstrous and rooted ‘certitude’ that in this catastrophic and absurd world there exists a people chosen by God and that, consequently, all the actions of an obsessive, psychological and pathologically exclusivist racism are justified; educated and trained in the idea that any suffering that has been inflicted, or is being inflicted, or will be inflicted on everyone else, especially the Palestinians, will always be inferior to that which they themselves suffered in the Holocaust, the Jews endlessly scratch their own wound to keep it bleeding, to make it incurable, and they show it to the world as if it were a banner. Israel seizes hold of the terrible words of God in Deuteronomy: ‘Vengeance is mine, and I will be repaid.’ Israel wants all of us to feel guilty, directly or indirectly, for the horrors of the Holocaust; Israel wants us to renounce the most elemental critical judgment and for us to transform ourselves into a docile echo of its will.[6]”

  5. Gideonq said on February 12th, 2009 at 8:05pm #

    AIC calls on UN to expand inquiry into violations by ALL sides in Gaza fighting demanding full accountability
    Feb 10, 2009

    Dear Daniel

    Did you conveniently miss this press release or did you intentionally “not respond with specifics to any of the humanitarian demands and ignore Amnesty Internationals’ request to: to expand inquiry into Gaza fighting to include evidence of violations by ALL sides” because it served your subtle propaganda?

    Amnesty International Press Release

    Amnesty International Calls on United Nations to Expand Inquiry Into Gaza Fighting to

    Include Evidence of Violations by All Sides
    Human Rights Organization Says U.N. Must Uphold Full Accountability
    Contact: Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150, gro.asuianull@lemirts
    United Nations — Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon should investigate all alleged violations

    of international law in the recent Gaza fighting — by Israel, Hamas and other Palestinian

    armed groups, Amnesty International said. The human rights organization said a limited

    inquiry that only concentrated attacks on U.N. staff and property was insufficient.

    I will give you benefit of the doubt and will provide you with a DOCUMENTED human rights violation that you can take to AIC right now!

    Hamas execution of Fatah members on YouTube
    Must see TV, be aware rate R for violence

    These are terrorists wearing masks that shoot from close range THEIR OWN PEOPLE

    laying face down by a wall with their hands and feet tied and a bag over their head from


    Listen to the wailing voices. It sounds like they have brought the families of the executed

    to be present at the execution.

    What impact do you think distribution of this clip made on Gaza population?

  6. Dan lieberman said on February 12th, 2009 at 9:27pm #

    The AI letter to which I referered was a specific email sent by AI to its membership. AI urged its members to forward this particular email to their congressman. Senator Cardin replied in the manner shown, which I sensed was not appropriate and followed a “line.”

    I neither conveniently missed any press release nor intentionally did “not respond with specifics to any of the humanitarian demands or ignore Amnesty Internationals’ request to: to expand inquiry into Gaza fighting to include evidence of violations by ALL sides” because it served my subtle propaganda. I don’t engage in any propaganda, subtle or otherwise. I must add that your comments seem to drift from the specific topic and seem directed to suppport your notions. Do you expect me to examine and discuss every letter written on the subject? Besides one has nothing to do with the other. The question to be answered in this article is: Did Senator Cardin respond honestly to this specific AI email? Who did what to whom is another question which many others have answered.

  7. Gideon said on February 12th, 2009 at 10:53pm #

    US representative response to a letter from a constituent:Does propaganda, subtle, strategy – a tabloid style promotional title make it easier to focus on author’s opinion ?

    So that what it was about?

    Then again what that has to do with Israel or propaganda or strategy or subtle?

    US representatives respond with similar boiler plate responses to local issues. It’s not really surprising that boiler plate constituents letters that have been prepared by an organization, get a boiler plate responses.

    On the other substance if we do focus on Israel and the latest events in Gaza, you can still take the case I mentioned to AI, as it is well documented.