Posted by on July 17, 2012 in Blog

You could have easily missed the news reports last week highlighting the contrived controversy surrounding a New York Metro billboard advertisement about the conditions of Palestinian refugees. The ad, paid for by Henry Clifford, Chairman of The Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine (CJPIP), received sharp criticism from some groups and individuals who allege that the ads are biased, anti-Israel, and anti-Semitic. The ad depicts Israel’s continued expansion on Palestinian territory going back to 1946. Four subsections of the ad show Palestinian lands decreasing while Israel’s territorial sovereignty grows. A fifth section reads: “4.7 million Palestinians are classified by the U.N. as Refugees.” 

The Anti-Defamation League  put out a statement opposing CJPIP’s message, saying it is “deliberately misleading and biased” and it propagates “an agenda that is fundamentally anti-Israel.” Dovid Efune, editor of the Jewish newspaper The Algemeiner alleged anti-Semitic motives behind the ads: “I think the ad is very offensive, it’s certainly offensive to Jews…it paints Jews as aggressors, as imperialists, as people that are stealing or taking land from others.” And, unsurprisingly, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer weighed in to decry the double standard because a racist and offensive Pro-Israel ad they had planned for New York is still in legal limbo. In response to the onslaught, Mr. Clifford, who spent $25,000 of his own money to place the ad, had a simple message for “If the facts are inflammatory then they are inflammatory.” He is referring the UN numbers on the billboard – numbers which none of the critics were able to refute on a factual basis.

Despite the attempted controversy and some calls to remove the ad from the rail stations, it will remain in place for the allotted time. The question that remains is whether the ad will have any sort of sway on public opinion or awareness of what is happening in Palestine. To a degree, though, the very existence of the ad already represents an increased and growing public awareness of the conditions which are contributing to the dwindling territory once part of Palestine. The ad also will hopefully get people asking questions to help challenge the concept that talking about Palestinians and the hardships they face under occupation somehow constitutes anti-Semitism.

Watch CBS New York's report

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