Hasbara Dictionary – Who wrote it?

Who created this Hasbara Dictionary?

Not an Israeli Think Tank or the Israeli government. The Global Language Dictionary is the brainchild of an American group started 10 years ago by three mothers called The Israel Project.  They’re hip.  You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

This is how they describe themselves:

“The Israel Project (TIP) is a non-partisan American educational organization dedicated to informing the media and public conversation about Israel and the Middle East. A one-stop source for detailed and accurate information, TIP provides facts to press, policy makers and the public on issues affecting Israel and the Middle East, the Jewish people and America’s interests in the Middle East. TIP does not lobby and is not connected to any government.”  

“Not connected to any government”?   Au contraire. It’s fair to say there must be close coordination between TIP and Israel’s officialdom.  In fact, the author acknowledges as much in the Preface. If the spin-masters (err diplomats) in Israel found TIP’s messaging counterproductive, you can bet the Global Language Dictionary wouldn’t have seen the light of day.

TIP hired communications expert, Frank  Luntz, the “go-to consultant for communication and language guidance,” to draft the dictionary.

So the obvious question: why did this American educational organization decide to create the Global Language Dictionary?  Have any groups in Pakistan, Afghanistan, or anywhere else helped the U.S. with our public image problems with a similar PR project?  I doubt it.

TIP’s Global Language Dictionary is more evidence of the “special relationship” between the U.S. and Israel.  We hear about that “special relationship”  every time Netanyahu visits Washington, DC and every time Obama addresses the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

We also know there’s a “special relationship” every time the U.S. vetoes a resolution in the U.N. Security Council that’s the least bit critical of Israel. Look at the list of resolutions between 1972-2002 that the U.S. has vetoed. Obama’s first veto in  2011 — after he promised better relations with the Muslim world — was against a resolution supported by all the other 14 members of the Security Council condemning Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories!

iStock 20492165 MD - American and Israeli flags

The Israel Project (TIP) appears to be a well-funded public relations machine to shape public opinion favorably towards Israel. [I really would like to know if there’s an analogous group anywhere in the world trying to shape public opinion favorably towards the U.S.  We sure could use the help!]

While the Global Language Dictionary is geared towards an English audience, TIP also has an extensive Arabic media program.

More than 1.2 million Arabic-speaking social media subscribers already follow content on TIP Arabic’s Facebook page Israel Uncensored.

TIP has an impressive list of projects — each designed to persuade participants to TIP’s vision of the Middle East and Israel.  TIP is in the air showing people Israel’s security concerns and needs for defensible borders; TIP provides geopolitical tours of Jerusalem and tours of the borders with Syria, Lebanon, and the Sinai, as well as other topical ground tours; TIP provides “experts” to journalists and policymakers; TIP started a new non-profit journalism venture in February 2013 called TheTower.org; and TIP also has a 24 hr/day Arabic news site called Al Masdar covering Israel-related affairs.

Clearly, the three mothers launched a major enterprise a decade ago.

Their Global Language Dictionary, first printed in 2003, is nothing to sneeze at.  In the posts to follow, lets look more closely at this “guide to visionary leaders who are on the front lines of fighting the media war for Israel.”

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7 Comments

Filed under Israel, People, United Nations, US Policy

7 responses to “Hasbara Dictionary – Who wrote it?

  1. Gotta go with Michael here, since by American law any American-registered organization cannot take directions from a foreign government and they have to fill out forms to affirm that. The author should take responsibility and do better than be wishy washy with ” It’s fair to say there must be close coordination between TIP and Israel’s officialdom.”
    I think Lora simply objects to the fact that there is an organization that advocates the Israeli position. Dunno if she’s against free speech, but I get that niggly feeling that she has no objections to the dozens (or more) organizations that push the Palestinian narrative, nor where they get their funding from or if they have connections to the PA.
    She alleges “close coordination” yet offers no proof. It’s fair to say there must be nothing to her allegation unless she can come up with some hard facts to back up her claim.

    • Thank you for sharing your comment Brian. There’s no competition here between Michael and me. You can have your own opinion too. 🙂

      I’m neither for or against this dictionary. I admire that the Israelis (and their American friends) are so disciplined at this “media war.”

      As far as offering proof, I pointed out that the author of this dictionary referred to the close coordination with Israel in the Preface. Please read the Preface.

      If the Palestinians had a similar dictionary — which to my knowledge they don’t — they would be much better at this “media war”, right? As I review the following chapters of this dictionary, I may point out where I think the Palestinians would use different messaging.

      Free speech? Sure … no one suggested Israel or TIP or the PLO couldn’t prepare a guide to help in their messaging campaigns. Not sure why you raised free speech as an issue here.

      But it is a little disingenuous to ignore the close coordination between “friends” in the US and Israel. The law might require that they sign an affidavit, as you suggest, but AIPAC acts as a well greased lobbying machine for Israel. I’m certainly not the first to point that out.

      • There plenty of Newspeak terms available to PLO and their Hamas mates, “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” is a classic example of using linguistics to whitewash one’s crimes.

  2. Linda Moscarella

    This is really fascinating. Continue to pursue it! I suspect that all public promotions have successful, but invisible, ventures like the Hasbara Dictionary (which is obviously basically PR) behind them. Making such clearly partisan efforts visible is the first step toward knowing reality, as opposed to ‘knowing” opinion or belief.

  3. “It’s fair to say there must be close coordination between TIP and Israel’s officialdom” – but you don’t have any proof except that “there must be”, do you? So there it remains – a private project by a private organization.

    As to “trying to shape public opinion favorably towards the U.S.” – I would imagine that that would be the State Department’s role. Organizations such as USAID or various volunteering organizations sending volunteers abroad also contribute a great deal.

    • Michael — as I note in my post, the author of the Dictionary states in the Preface the close relationship with Israel.

      Why are you stuck on that point? You seem to object that Israel has anything to do with this project.

      • As far as I know, and I really don’t care enough to dig deeper, this project is not sponsored, approved or reviewed by the State of Israel. Why are you so stuck on suggesting this project is produced by Israeli officials?

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