The mainline-church supported U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (USCEIO) is trumpeting a “battle of the billboards” on their blog today. It seems they and several other groups are putting up anti-Israel billboards and signs in San Francisco, and trying to get counter-signs put up by a pro-Israel group taken down. National advocacy director Josh Ruebner writes:
A recent billboard campaign in the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system—sponsored by US Campaign member groups Northern California Friends of Sabeel, American Muslims for Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace—occasioned a racist counter-ad campaign by Stand With Us.
Here’s the ad that USCEIO put up in San Francisco–I disagree with the policy advocated, as well as the implicit characterization of those who disagree, but the sign is perfectly reasonable:
Now, here’s the ad that USCEIO considers “racist”:
Now, USCEIO no doubt thinks the latter “racist” because its sponsor has the nerve to suggest that there actually is such a thing as Palestinian terrorism, which we all know is a fantasy of the deranged Zionist warmonger mind. Anyway, USCEIO is doing a happy dance because the Bay Area Rapid Transit system has decided that free speech is only for points of view with which it agrees. According to the San Francisco Bay Guardian:
Offensive advertisements promoting a right-wing Zionist viewpoint of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were removed from all BART stations this week. “They could be commonly interpreted as disparaging or demeaning to Palestinians as a whole,” according to BART spokesperson Jim Allison told us, saying the violated the district’s advertising standards.
A spokesperson for one of the anti-Israel ad sponsors, from the Friends of Sabeel-North America, said that the pro-Israel ad (sponsored by StandWithUs) had to come down because it didn’t take the correct view of the Middle East conflict:
FOSNA administrative officer Sister Elaine Kelley said the problem with the StandWithUs ad is that it “turns the focus away from the topic of the occupation and toward the unfortunate violence of some Palestinians.”
This, by the way, is after USCEIO screamed and yelled about the bus authority in Seattle taking down another set of anti-Israel ads that looked like thisL
I didn’t post on this when it happened because the ads in question weren’t put up by a group with any church connection, though I did take note for future reference of the the USCEIO’s fit over having them taken down. I happen to think they were right on that occasion, and that if the city of Seattle is ever going to accept ads making political statements, this one should have been allowed as well. But Ruebner doesn’t give a hoot for free speech; rather, for him the question is whether the “right” side or the “wrong” side is having its freedom abridged:
We were really heartened to learn today that BART will no longer tolerate the racist ads sponsored by Stand With Us. Yesterday, the San Francisco Bay Guardian reported that BART has removed the Stand With Us ads!
Let’s celebrate this victory against racism by seeing more pro-active billboard campaigns across the country. It’s working!
USCEIO: your mainline dollars at work undermining the First Amendment as well as defaming Israel!