About 75 pro-Israel billboards sponsored by StandWithUs, a California based non-profit, will pop up at local train stations this week, including White Plains, Scarsdale, Mount Kisco and Chappaqua.
"We cannot allow the public to be misled by the factual distortions in yet another anti-Israel campaign,” said Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs. “We are committed to countering anti-Israel campaigns whenever they appear.
Anti-Israel activists continuously try to undermine American support for Israel with campaigns that misrepresent Israel and its history.”
StandWithUs’s posters, which are expected to go up on Tuesday or Wednesday, is in response to a set of CBS Outdoor Advertising billboards posted in 52 local stations by Henry Clifford, a retired investment banker who is chair of a 10-member group called the Committee for Peace in Israel and Palestine. Clifford’s posters show maps depicting the loss of Palestinian controlled land between 1946 and 2010, and state that 4.7 million Palestinians have since been classified as refugees by the United Nations.
Clifford said that StandWithUs has every right to wage their own counter-campaign, but that his posters are factually correct.
“Our posters show historical and geographical facts with no editorial comments,” said Clifford. “We don’t tell people what to think we give them the hard facts and let them draw their own conclusions. With the hundreds of thousands of words that are exchanged on this subject we’re left with one absolute clear and certainty, that is that Palestinians have lost most of their homeland. No words or billboards can erase that fact.”
One of the six designs for the StandWithUs campaign states that Israel was renamed Palestine by the Romans in 135 CE, and that Israel has been the Jewish homeland for more than 3,000 years. Rothstein says that an Arab Palestine never existed in the first place, and that the Arch of Titus in Rome and Bible support this.
Clifford counters that the Palestinians were referred to as the Philistines by the Romans and occupied the area before Jews did.
“Secondly, the Jews were expelled by the Romans in the first century so there hasn’t been a significant Jewish presence in Palestine for 2,000 years,” said Clifford.
The StandWithUs billboard campaign aims to “highlight Israel's history, its gifts to the world, and underscore the Palestinians' refusal to say yes to peace,” a press release from the organization said.
Click on our pictures to read the posters.
"The founding of modern Israel was an act of historical justice. The injustice is that Palestinian Arabs have continued to reject all territorial compromises for peace,” said Avi Posnick, regional coordinator of the New York chapter of StandWithUs. "Our billboard campaigns highlight how just Israel’s founding was, how much it has sought peace with its neighbors, and how it is fulfilling its goal of helping people around the world."
Clifford argues that Palestine doesn’t refuse to say yes to peace, but refuses to agree make agreements where Palestine is required to give up land to Israel. He says that StandWithUs’ six different poster images showing things like how Israel saves water and helps American job production is not a justification for the conflict and the taking of Palestinian land.
“If Israel wants a partner for peace with Palestine it has to discontinue its illegal occupation of the West Bank of Palestine,” said Clifford. “Then they would have a partner in peace.”
However, some think that Clifford should keep his ideals to himself and that train stations are no place for political conversation. Someone scribbled over Palestine as it appeared in 1946 on one of Clifford’s posters at the White Plains station, writing “Keep Your Opinions to Yourself.”
Assemblyman Robert Castelli has asked Howard Permut, president of MTA Metro-North Railroad, to remove the signs.
“I am a strong supporter of the First Amendment right of free speech in the Constitution, and certainly a proponent that the people of Israel and Palestine should live in harmony together,” said Castelli. “However, the subliminal message that this particular billboard carries is an anti-Israeli message that I believe has just the opposite effect of creating peace and harmony between the Israeli and Palestinian people.”
Dian Wilkinson, who was at the White Plains train station on Monday, said political signs at the train station doesn’t bother her.
“It’s a free country,” said the West Harrison resident.
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