Israel Project

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The Israel Project (TIP)  is an odd group that appears to be “pro-settlement” and against anyone “pushing” peace on Israel. They appear in fact to be another Israel PR group to focus American Jewish awareness about Israel. This is not a small "fly by night" grass roots organization! It is a very professional focused group whose agenda is whatever Israel is promoting politically. Its target groups? In the US, the American public. In Europe, the European public. And so on for each country. Are they "against peace?" Not as much as they are against Iran and into focusing public attention on getting Iran. Too bad. From their emails I truly thought they were against giving away land. From their website it is hard to tell what they stand for! Finally before a rally in Annaplolis, so yours truly called up Jennifer to see what her focus is going to be on. I wrote to them once or twice trying to get a straight answer. I got lucky and got Jennifer on the phone. She told me that at the Annapolis Rally she is going to be addressing the Pro-Peace groups. She was very nice and even read me a bit of her speach. I felt badly, but we had not traveled down to promote peace! Bekitzur, I went to Wiki and got this info. Their site states that their aim is:  "working tirelessly to help protect Israel by improving Israel's image".[1] In their online mission statement they describe themselves as being "devoted to educating the press and the public about Israel while promoting security, freedom and peace."[2]

They have suceeded in creating an image that they are against giving away land. As WIKI puts it: Criticism of TIP includes describing it as "a right-wing media advocacy group" using "pro-settlement fear-mongering talking points" which are "incendiary, dangerous, and counterproductive",[3] and argue that its rhetoric and alliance with extremist figures only serves to simultaneously undermine the image of the State of Israel and TIP's stated purpose.[4] (I got the impression that Wiki is not too nuts about this group)

History

The Israel Project was founded in 2002 by Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, who currently serves as its president, with two other women.[5] Initially started to change US and European perceptions of Israel, it now works in English, French, German, Spanish, Russian and Arabic to reach a global audience.[1] In 2007 its board of advisors included fifteen Democratic and Republican members of the US House and US Senate, plus actor Ron Silver.[6] TIP operates offices in Washington DCJerusalem and Sderot.[1]  Editors note: if you look at the list of employees and read their job descriptions it looks like a Madison avenue PR firm. Indeed it is…

Activities

Press Information

TIP conducts polling and public opinion research[7] with US focus groups and advises Israeli experts and political leaders on the most effective ways to present their views to US audiences: "We share [our] information with all the political leaders across the political spectrum because they're the ones being interviewed on television"[8] TIP also provides information to journalists by offering background material, press conferences,[2] and one-on-one interviews with these experts and political figures, such asShimon Peres.[8][9] TIP has supplied information for thousands of news stories around the world, as part of their "pro-Israel media advocacy" efforts.[10] TIP also buys commercial time to air pro-Israeli advertising on CNNMSNBCFox News and other cable networks.[1]

Helicopter tours

Part of TIP’s efforts in Jerusalem include providing helicopter flights for foreign journalists visiting the country, called 'Intellicopter' tours. Members of the media are given an opportunity to witness firsthand the strategic difficulties facing Israel as a result of its small size. The two-and–a-half hour tour is led by TIP’s guides who offer an analysis of Israel’s history and current security challenges. Journalists from over 300 media outlets have taken TIP’s intellicopter tour, and a large portion of news footage about the country is taken from this aerial view.[2]

Media Fellowship

Every year The Israel Project offers the opportunity for college and graduate school students to participate in an internship focused on media advocacy. The fellows undergo intensive training, working with leading journalists and communications professionals to gain the out-of-classroom experience necessary to secure post-graduate career opportunities. Throughout the nine week program, fellows participate in all aspects of The Israel Project, from writing articles for publication to conducting interviews and organizing press events.[citation needed]

Pushing An “Iran Is The Real Enemy” Focus

A participant in a 2007 focus group commissioned by TIP reported that she had been "called in for what seemed an unusual assignment: to help test-market language that could be used to sell military action against Iran to the American public".[6] The final question in the study was reportedly "How would you feel if George Bush ... Hillary Clinton ... or Israel bombed Iran".[6] TIP founder Misrahi said that her group had commissioned the focus group and had "shared information" produced by the focus group with Freedom's Watch. She claimed that the focus group was designed to help TIP promote "our belief in pushing sanctions" against Iran.[6]

 2009 Global Language Dictionary

The Israel Project commissioned a study by Frank Luntz who ran polls and focus groups to determine the best language to use to promote Israeli settlements to the American public.[11] The study was marked, “Not for distribution or publication” and was leaked to Newsweek online. It recommends being positive, framing the issue as being about peace not settlements and to claim that the rejection of Jewish settlements is anti-Semitic and "ethnic cleansing". The document also lists arguments that don't work, in particular noting that religious, ownership and "scapegoat" arguments failed to sway listeners, that Arab housing is being demolished in East Jerusalem because it fails to meet the building code, the worst claim by this group in the guide is "Israel is so rich and so strong that they fail to see why it is necessary for armored tanks to shoot at unarmed kids" para (3) page 90. This study states that "public opinion is hostile to the settlements - even among supporters of Israel" so instead of dwelling on settlements one should always talk positively and focus on past peace achievement. [11] [12]

Critics such as J Street describe the advice as "If you get a question about settlements, change the subject. If pressed, say stopping settlements is "a kind of ethnic cleansing". J Street sent a mailing to their organization asking their members to send letters to TIP asking them to "remove pro-settlement fear-mongering talking points from The Israel Project's materials".[3]

References

1.   a b c d Bitton-Jackson, Livia (March 18, 2009). "Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi: 'The Israel Project'"Jewish Press. Retrieved August 10, 2009.

2.   a b c "About TIP - The Israel Project". Israel Project. 2009. Retrieved August 10, 2009.

3.   a b "Stopping settlements = "Ethnic Cleansing"?"J Street. 2009. Retrieved August 10, 2009.

4.   ^ Fingerhut, Eric (July 10, 2009). "J Street continues the criticism of The Israel Project"Capital JJewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved August 10, 2009.

5.   ^ "Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi". Israel Project. 2009. Retrieved August 10, 2009.

6.   a b c d "Focus Grouping War with Iran"Mother Jones. November 19, 2007. Retrieved August 10, 2009.

7.   ^ "Polls". Israel Project. 2009. Retrieved August 10, 2009.

8.   a b Frisberg, Manny (May 11, 2007). "Different routes to the same place"JTNews. Retrieved August 10, 2009.

9.   ^ "Expert Sources available for comment and contact". Israel Project. 2009. Retrieved August 10, 2009.

10.^ Nir, Ori (July 9, 2004). "Pro-Israel Activists Start Media Campaign"The Forward. Retrieved August 10, 2009.

11.a b Luntz, Frank (April 2009). "2009 Global Language Dictionary". The Israel Project. Archived from the original on 2009-08-06.

12.^ Ephron, Dan (2009-07-10). "Chosen Words". Newsweek.

External links

§  Organization website

§  Sourcewatch profile of The Israel Project

§  A Debate on Israel’s Invasion of Gaza: UNRWA’s Christopher Gunness v. Israel Project’s Meagan Buren (Democracy Now!, 5 January 2009)