The Grayzone has obtained slides from a confidential Israel lobby presentation based on data from Republican pollster Frank Luntz. They contain talking points for politicians and public figures seeking to justify Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip.

Two prominent pro-Israel lobby groups are holding private briefings in New York City to coach elected officials and well-known figures on how to influence public opinion in favor of the Israeli military’s rampage in Gaza, The Grayzone can reveal. These PR sessions, convened by the UJA-Federation and Jewish Community Relations Council, rely on data collected by Frank Luntz, a veteran Republican pollster and pundit.

A source who was present during several meetings provided Luntz’s slides to The Grayzone. Participants were informed that the presentations and data contained in the slides were strictly confidential, the source said.

“This is NOT helpful,” Luntz stated in response to an email from The Grayzone requesting his comment on the private meetings.

The Luntz-tested presentations on the war in Gaza urge politicians to avoid trumpeting America’s supposedly shared democratic values with Israel, and focus instead on deploying “The Language of War with Hamas.” According to this framing, they must deploy incendiary language painting Hamas as a “brutal and savage…organization of hate” which has “raped women,” while insisting Israel is engaged in “a war for humanity.”

On his personal website, Luntz markets himself as “one of the most honored communications professionals in America today.” He has earned a small fortune crafting talking points for Republican Party heavyweights and scandal-stained corporate clients like Enron, the energy company which collapsed after engineering California’s energy crisis. Following the financial crash of 2008-09, Luntz advised the GOP on shielding the party’s big business donors from scrutiny. At around the same time, he furnished the Republican Governor’s Association with advice on undermining Occupy Wall Street, the movement demanding accountability for the banking industry’s malfeasance.

The celebrity GOP pollster has moonlighted as a consultant for the Israel lobby, producing a “Global Language Dictionary” for the now-defunct Israel Project in the aftermath of the brutal 2008-09 attack on Gaza known as Operation Cast Lead. In his propaganda handbook, Luntz counseled “leaders who are on the front lines of fighting the media war for Israel” to shy from debates related to the illegal occupation of Palestine.

“Avoid talking about borders in terms of pre- or post-1967,” he advised, “because it only serves to remind Americans of Israel’s military history. Particularly on the left, this does you harm.”

Luntz’s Gaza war presentation puts his poll-tested tactics back in the Israel lobby’s hands, urging pro-Israel public figures to stay on the attack with incendiary language and shocking allegations against their enemies.

In one focus group, Luntz asked participants to state which alleged act by Hamas on October 7 “bothers you more.” After being presented with a laundry list of alleged atrocities, a majority declared that they were most upset by the claim that Hamas “raped civilians” – 19 percent more than those who expressed outrage that Hamas supposedly “exterminated civilians.”

Data like this apparently influenced the Israeli government to launch an obsessive but still unsuccessful campaign to prove that Hamas carried out sexual assault on a systematic basis on October 7. Initiated at Israel’s United Nations mission in December 2023 with speeches by neoliberal tech oligarch Sheryl Sandberg and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a recipient of hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations and speaking fees from Israel lobby organizations, Tel Aviv’s propaganda blitz has yet to produce a single self-identified victim of sexual assault by Hamas. A March 5 report by UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence Pramila Patten did not contain one direct testimony of sexual assault on October 7. What’s more, Patten’s team said they found “no digital evidence specifically depicting acts of sexual violence.”

To further the demonization of Palestinians, the Luntz-crafted slides advise that “Israel’s best response is the brainwashed children of Hamas spewing hatred towards Jews (even more than condemning Israelis) with words they don’t know the meaning of and can’t even pronounce.”

The portrayal of the youth of Gaza as ignorant tools of Hamas is clearly intended to deflect from Israel’s industrial-scale slaughter of some 15,000 children in the Gaza Strip since October 7, as well as the woundingorphaning and starving of countless more in the besieged territory.

To make their arguments stick, Luntz recommends pro-Israel forces avoid the exterminationist language favored by Israeli officials who have called, for example, to “erase” the population of Gaza, and to instead advocate for “an efficient, effective approach” to eliminating Hamas.

At the same time, veteran pollster acknowledges that Republican voters prefer phrases which imply maximalist violence, like “eradicate” and “obliterate,” while sanitized terms like “neutralize” appeal more to Democrats. Republican presidential candidates Nikki Haley and Donald Trump have showcased similar focus-grouped rhetoric with their calls to “finish them” and “finish the problem” in Gaza.

As in past Israel-lobby seminars, Luntz has urged pro-Israel forces to divert from arguments about Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian territory by deploying banal slogans like, “Israelis have a right to defend themselves.”

“This is about Israelis,” a Luntz-crafted slide declares, “not about territory.”

According to the pollster’s research, pro-Israel politicians should avoid references to “Israel” entirely and instead discuss “Israelis” when “setting the context” for a debate over the war in Gaza.

The recommended tweak hints at the PR crisis Israel lobby forces have encountered since Israel’s military invaded and besieged Gaza, leaving most of its residents homeless, placing its entire public health and sanitation system out of service, and exterminating over 2% of the overall population, according to conservative death toll estimates.

One slide demonstrates that only a small sliver of those polled by Luntz buy into the Israeli government’s mantra that “Hamas is ISIS.” The same visual aid counsels pro-Israel officials to shy away from the phrases “genuine accuracy” and “hard evidence,” and allude more generally to “the truth” when discussing Israel’s actions.

Luntz acknowledges Israel’s mounting PR problems in a slide identifying the most powerful tactics employed by Palestine solidarity activists. “Israelis attacking Israel is the second most potent weapon against Israel,” the visual display reads beside a photo of a protest by Jewish Voices for Peace, a US-based Jewish organization dedicated to ending Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

“The most potent” tactic in mobilizing opposition to Israel’s assault on Gaza, according to Luntz, “is the visual destruction of Gaza and the human toll.” The slide inadvertently acknowledges the cruelty of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, displaying a bombed out apartment building with clearly anguished women and children fleeing in the foreground.

But Luntz assures his audience, “It ‘looks like a genocide’ even though the damage has nothing to do with the definition.”

According to this logic, the American public can become more tolerant of copiously documented crimes against humanity if they are simply told not to believe their lying eyes.