|CAMERON AND THE MUSLIM VOTE (PART V)|
|Written by Husain Al-Qadi, Ummah Pulse|
|Saturday, 24 April 2010 19:37
In the previous four articles on the topic of David Cameron and the Muslim vote, I discussed various strands of Neoconservative thinking within the higher echelons of the Tory Party and how this has influenced their anti-Muslim rhetoric. An outburst in Parliament by the Leader of the Party, David Cameron, against some Muslim schools in Britain served as the catalyst for this series, in which I highlighted the party’s choreographing of Muslim stigma, uncovered Michael Gove’s role as Cameron’s ventriloquist, revealed their enmity towards Islam hidden behind anti-radicalism rhetoric and their links to, and aspirations for, the quixotic “Christmas tree activists” at the Quilliam Foundation.
In the four months since my last article, the political arena has changed dramatically and David Cameron, thanks to the “Nick Clegg effect” following the televised leadership debates, is no longer the undisputed favourite to win the forthcoming general election on 6 May, 2010. This unexpected development – having someone who once wrote in a national newspaper that “We Must Stop Arming Israel” emerge as a potential replacement for “wonder-boy Cameron” – has stunned the backroom movers and shakers and spurred the Murdoch press and their spin doctors into a concerted smear-campaign against Nick Clegg. The crude and panic-stricken nature of the reaction reveals the extent of the shock and frustration felt at the heart of this well-oiled pro-Israel machine, which has become accustomed to having the political landscape in both Britain and the United States determined by its designs and wishes.
In last Thursday’s TV debate, the second in the series between the three candidates, on the topic of foreign policy and with Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News hosting the programme, it came as no surprise that questions on Palestine and Israel were conspicuously absent. This at a time when Israel, a country in which Jews from all over the world are encouraged to settle, has just passed a law to deport thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank. Add to this the persistent and increasing Israeli provocations in Al-Quds Al-Sharif (Jerusalem) that could have catastrophic consequence for relations between the Muslim and Western worlds, which could make Afghanistan look like a tea party.
In order to appreciate how upsetting Nick Clegg’s popularity must have been for this mafia-like cabal, one has to understand the extent of the planning and effort that was invested in David Cameron who, despite the “Clegg effect”, still remains a major player in the race to lead the next government.
Who made Cameron Tory leader?
Prior to the Conservative Party Conference in 2006, not very many people had heard of David Cameron. Even among party members he was viewed as a mediocre politician whose political skills were at best average. The front-runners in the race for the Party’s leadership, as far as the delegates and activists at the Conference were concerned, were David Davis and Kenneth Clark. This was also reflected in opinion polls of the wider public. Despite this, Cameron came out of nowhere to become leader. The person who made this possible was a Zionist spin doctor masquerading as a pollster called Frank Luntz, who had spent much of the previous decade helping the Republicans in the US to find, as Nick Cohen puts it, “smarmy ways to spin tax cuts for the rich and dismiss global warming as scaremongering.” Luntz’s deceptive claims in the US were so ridiculous that the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) conducted a 14 month investigation into his methods and found him in violation of the Association’s Code of Professional Ethics and Practices with his unsubstantiated claim that 60 per cent of Americans supported the Republicans’ Contract with America. Yet somehow, the old-boy-network had managed to secure a slot on the BBC’s flagship Newsnight programme for Luntz to run a focus group on the eve of the Tory Party leadership election. This should not have been allowed to happen as Nick Cohen explained in the Observer:
“British pollsters tell me that Luntz’s work for Newsnight shouldn’t have been allowed to influence a parish council election, never mind the future of a great party. If you can’t follow their case against him, their overall explanation is easy to grasp: a well-run focus group could never fill 15 minutes of airtime. It would be too boring. To begin with, standard focus groups have six to eight members, but a handful of people isn’t an impressive sight on television, so Newsnight had Luntz meet 28 voters.
“Focus groups are also meant to be focused. Market researchers want volunteers from a similar background so the guinea pigs will lose their inhibitions about speaking freely in front of strangers. But Newsnight mixed up people who had always voted Tory with people who had once voted Tory and people who had never voted Tory. The danger of a large and diverse group is that the loudest voices will dominate and a herd mentality will take over. Watch the footage that made Cameron leader and you will see that is what happens as the dynamics of crowd psychology convert everyone in the room to his charms.
“The standard way to stop easily impressed interviewees going along with the crowd is to have secret ballots. Luntz and Newsnight didn’t use them because a show of hands looks better on TV. After they hear Cameron saying he wants to appeal to people’s hopes rather than their fears, the reaction of the voters on dinky hand-held dials that measure their instant responses was overwhelmingly positive. But they would have been as pleased if you, I or our next-door neighbours had said the same, which is why serious researchers are wary of instant reactions. I could go on, but the big point is that Newsnight produced infotainment, not research.” (Nick Cohen, The Observer, Sunday 10 December 2006)
Anyone who views the Newsnight footage can see that Luntz was clearly pursuing an agenda to promote David Cameron ahead of the other two candidates and his plan, as we know, worked. The Cameron-Luntz alliance was deeper than anyone watching realised. The following day, delegates voted Cameron into office and the rest is history – or is it?
The Luntz-Israel Connection
What most viewers watching Luntz on Newsnight would not have known is that Frank Luntz is also the major spin doctor for the State of Israel. His reach and influence in Western media organisations is not mere coincidence. He is a senior operator in the global Israeli spin machine; so much so that if you happen to have heard or seen any Israeli spokesperson in the news defending Israeli settlements, or covering up atrocities in Gaza, or pretending that everything is normal in Jerusalem, then it is highly likely that you would have witnessed a well crafted script designed by none other than Frank Luntz.
One of Luntz’s major projects is called “The Israel Project’s Global Language Dictionary”. In the introduction to the 2009 version of the dictionary, Luntz reminds his readers that “I hope that advocates for Israel will benefit from the massive amount of work that went into the creation of this booklet… And remember, it’s not what you say that counts. It’s what people hear” (Frank Luntz, April 2009). This is a dictionary that I think everyone who is genuinely concerned about peace and security in our world should read. In particular, journalists, presenters and politicians, upon whom the sinister techniques described by the book are employed, should familiarise themselves with it so that they can recognise that the truth in matters pertaining to Israel is often hidden under layers upon layers of cleverly designed scripts.
Luntz’s list of points about how to defend Israel begins in the book with this “gem”:
“Persuadables won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Show Empathy for BOTH sides! The goal of pro-Israel communications is not simply to make people who already love Israel feel good about that decision. The goal is to win new hearts and minds for Israel without losing the support Israel already has. To do this you have to understand that the frame from which most Americans view Israel is one of a ‘cycle of violence that has been going on for thousands of years.’ Thus, you have to disarm them from their suspicions before they will be open to learning new facts about Israel. The first step to winning trust and friends for Israel is showing that you care about peace for BOTH Israelis and Palestinians and, in particular, a better future for every child. Indeed, the sequence of your conversation is critical and you must start with empathy for BOTH sides first. Open your conversation with strong proven messages such as:
‘Israel is committed to a better future for everyone – Israelis and Palestinians alike. Israel wants the pain and suffering to end, and is committed to working with the Palestinians toward a peaceful, diplomatic solution where both sides can have a better future. Let this be a time of hope and opportunity for both the Israeli and the Palestinian people.’
“Use Empathy: Even the toughest questions can be turned around if you are willing to accept the notion that the other side has at least some validity. If you begin your response with ‘I understand and I sympathize with those who…’ you are already building the credibility you will need for your audience to empathize and agree with you.” (page 4)
He then offers a series of psychological techniques that would enable an Israeli spokesperson to present a picture of Israel as the victim instead of the occupier. For obvious reasons I cannot reproduce it all in this brief article but here is a list of some of his advice to the Israelis:
“Be careful of your tone. A patronizing, parental tone will turn Americans and Europeans off. We’re at a time in history when Jews in general (and Israelis in particular) are no longer perceived as the persecuted people.” (page 7)
“Remind people – again and again – that Israel wants peace. Reason One: If Americans see no hope for peace — if they only see a continuation of a 2,000-year-long episode of ‘Family Feud’ – Americans will not want their government to spend tax dollars or their President’s clout on helping Israel.
“Reason Two: The speaker that is perceived as being most for PEACE will win the debate. Every time someone makes the plea for peace, the reaction is positive.” (page 8)
“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.” (page 5)
“Concede a point. Look for opportunities in every TV debate or interview to concede a point to the interviewer or debate partner. It doesn’t have to be a major point. The point isn’t to undermine some essential plank of Israel’s foreign policy platform. But the simple words ‘you make a good point’ do wonders among an audience.” (page 16)
On the most explosive issue in the conflict, Jerusalem, Luntz explains how to mislead American public opinion. He writes: “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.”
As for what to say, his script is what we have been hearing from both the Israeli and the US administrations. The Luntz script runs as follows: “A final solution for Jerusalem is probably the hardest issue of all to negotiate. Let’s save it for last, in order to keep the rest of the peace process moving. Americans agree with this approach. They are sensitive to the sensitivity of the Jerusalem issue and recognize that, if focused on now, it would derail all chance of progress for peace. You need to remind them of these facts.” (page 65)
On civilian casualties, Luntz explains how to pull the wool over peoples eyes. He writes: “They perceive Israel to have significant military superiority and to be held accountable to international standards of conduct. They will accept that some civilian casualties are inevitable, but if your language isn’t correct about how seriously Israel takes this issue, they will refuse to accept your arguments about the vulnerability of Israel’s civilians. So here is the five-step approach to talking about civilian casualties in Gaza:
STEP 1 – Empathy: “All human life is precious. We understand that the loss of one innocent Palestinian life is every bit as tragic as the loss of an Israeli life.”
STEP 2 – Admission: “We admit that Israel isn’t always successful at preventing civilian casualties…”
STEP 3 – Effort: “We remain committed to doing everything in our power to preventing civilian casualties.”
STEP 4 – Examples: “Let me tell you how our armed forces are trained, tasked, and operate to ensure that Palestinian civilians remain safe.”
STEP 5 – Turn Tables: “It is a great tragedy that Iran-backed Hamas shoots rockets at our civilians while hiding behind their own. This causes tragic deaths on BOTH sides. What would you do if you were in this situation?”
In his “Words that Work” lists, there are terms and sentences which we are all familiar with, having heard them repeatedly in the media. For example, “Militant Islam”: this is the best term to describe the terrorist movement. Avoid Bush-era-sounding terms like “Islamo-fascism” etc (page 20).
Ideally, I would have liked to publish the whole dictionary here so that everyone can see the extent of the Luntz deception. In any case, the document is available here in full. Please do take a look.
The Cameron-Luntz Alliance
In the light of these revelations about Luntz’s fervent loyalties to Israel, there are several questions we as Muslim voters need to ask. The most important of them is: If Luntz was the person who made Cameron “king” of the Tory party how would Cameron as Prime Minister repay the favour?
Why was David Cameron chosen by this pro-Israel spin machine operator to lead the Tory party? Was it because Cameron is proud of his Semitic heritage and that he would be harsher on Muslims and more favourable to Israel?
In an interview with the Jewish Chronicle last month, David Cameron was at pains to establish his party’s Jewish credentials. He told the interviewer that:
“With Disraeli, we were the first Party to have someone who was ethnically Jewish become Prime Minister. With Michael Howard, we had the first practising Jewish Leader of the Opposition. And we’ve just seen a Conservative Member of Parliament, John Bercow, become the first Jewish Speaker of the House of Commons. One of the highlights of my year was meeting Dayan Ehrentreu and learning about my ancestors, the Levitas. Of course, we can’t ever be complacent, but if you look at our Party today you see we’ve got a Jewish Chief Executive, Andrew Feldman, we’ve got a Jewish Chairman of the Research Department, Oliver Letwin, and at this general election we’ll have Jewish people standing as Conservative candidates in really winnable seats.” (Jewish Chronicle, 12.03.10)
Of course, as Muslims we cannot have a problem with someone merely for having Jewish ancestral heritage. But when a potential Prime Minister with Jewish heritage is so closely associated with the likes of Frank Luntz – and with Cameron himself having a habit of lashing out against Muslims, as I have shown above in many other instances – it becomes imperative that we vote wisely.
The pro-Israel machine has not given up in the face of the “Clegg effect”. In order to continue their projects, some of them have begun to look for ways to save face and even to infiltrate the Clegg camp. We had Mandelson suddenly defending Clegg against the Telegraph and the astonishing claims that Rupert Murdoch never really wanted to support David Cameron, even though his Sun newspaper had declared support for Cameron months ago, with all the trappings of perfect timing and blue smoke. These are the preliminary tentacles of the pro-Israel spin machine slithering towards a possible future political reality in Britain with Nick Clegg at its heart.
For Muslims in the UK and all over the world, what matters most in our encounter with the West is the injustices in Palestine, especially when these injustices are amplified in our consciousness as our day to day mundane lives, our clothes, our mosques, our children’s education and our religion are targeted by the defenders of Israel and her collaborators in the corridors of power. We are a people with a strong sense of history. Instead of a government which will perpetuate the injustices of the past (the Balfour Declaration, the Sykes-Picot Agreement, etc) and continue the persistent targeting of people’s personal beliefs and private practices to satisfy the designs and wishes of the likes of Messrs Gove, Luntz and Murdoch, it is time to look for ways to apologise for the mistakes of the past and not just continue to add insult to injury. David Cameron is certainly not someone in whom aspirations of an apology can be placed.