The Political World of American Zionism

By Samuel Halperin | Go to book overview

10
zionist propaganda

In the morally neutral terms of the social scientist, propaganda may be defined as "the deliberate use of symbols by representatives of a group in a controversial situation to bring about beliefs, attitudes, and action in accord with the purposes of that group."1 As such, propaganda is a tool to secure influence, a weapon which may profitably be employed in the political struggle alongside other political weapons, such as organization and personal influence. With specific reference to interest group life, a complicated "propaganda machine" is almost an inevitable concomitant of success. As sociologist C. Wendell King has so aptly observed, "In a mass society, even to bring one's beliefs and proposals into that vague arena called public opinion, simply to get a hearing, calls for elaborate activities. Rousing the apathetic and counteracting the antagonistic are even more difficult matters for the subgroups in such a society."2

In their efforts to mobilize the American public behind their program, Zionist leaders employed an extensive variety of public relations techniques, including many types of propaganda organizations, and an abundant number of propaganda themes and media. This chapter is intended as an inquiry into the Zionist use of some of these propaganda weapons vis-U+00EO-vis the apathetic and/or uncommitted sectors of the American public, particularly American Jews. The chapter to follow intends to describe the nature and effects of Zionist counterpropaganda against the only organized opposition group in the American Jewish community -- the American Council for Judaism.

The hypothesis posed early in this book may profitably be restated at this time: propaganda succeeds in arousing public opinion only where there is an already existent predisposition in the direction urged by the propagandist. This is to say, that propa

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