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Pro-Israel ads to counter BDS in Canada

The American NGO Israel advocacy group StandWithUs has launched an ad campaign on Canadian buses to counter an anti-Israel ad campaign by BDS.
by ANT KATZ - with JTA and NATIONAL POST | Oct 16, 2013
 

 

 

 

 

 

A US Israel advocacy group has launched a month-long advertising campaign this week on Vancouver, Canada buses and light rail stations to counter anti-Israel ads. The group, StandWithUs, is a right-leaning Israel advocacy group and has supported the campaign to combat the ads put up by the Palestine Awareness Committee.

The Israel advocacy organisation has previously responded to ads it views as critical of Israel in other North American cities. While the Palestine Awareness Committee has announced plans to run its ads in other Canadian cities, Meryle Kates, executive director of StandWithUs-Canada, said StandWithUs has no plans to expand its campaign.

The StandWithUs ads will run from 14 October to 14 November.

The pro-Israel ads include one series of three maps purporting to show “Jewish Loss of Land” and are dated from 1000 BCE until “Today.” Another depicts smiling Israeli and Canadian children with the statement “Shared Values & Freedom.”

The anti-Israel ads depict “Disappearing Palestine” on a series of four maps dated 1946-2012 that illustrate “Palestine” shrinking over the years.

3-SWU Canada ad 

Right: StandWithUs’s counter ad showing a disappearing Israel

“The anti-Israel ads distort facts,” StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein said in a statement. “They presume there once was an Arab country called ‘Palestine’ when in fact no such country ever existed.”

When the Palestine Awareness Committee ads went up recently and the Vancouver Jewish community threatened legal action and attempted, unsuccessfully, to have TransLink, the Vancouver transit agency, reject the ads.

In a tongue in cheek blog entitled “Does Vancouver’s transit system hold the key to peace in the Middle East?” Canadian writer Robyn Urback writes: “It has become clear that a battle for the hearts and minds of the Middle East is to be fought on the side of a Vancouver TransLink bus.

“In August, the city’s transit authority was at the centre of a controversy involving a series of ads that depicted Palestine ‘disappearing’ into the State of Israel,” she wrote.

Israel’s depicted as absorbing Palestine

The Palestine Awareness Coalition’s ads “showed Israel’s apparent absorption of Palestinian land between 1946 and 2012,” wrote Urback.

The original ads offered an extremely simplified version of six decades of complex Middle Eastern affairs, which was perhaps why some Jewish groups demanded they be taken down. Members of B’nai Brith Canada, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) in Toronto all called on TransLink to remove the ads, with FSWC president claiming that the ‘Disappearing Palestine’ signs incited ‘hatred and contempt.’

3-SWU Canada & Israel

LEFT: This SWU ad depicts smiling Israeli and Canadian children with the statement “Shared Values & Freedom”

 

TransLink did not concede, but its hands were tied. In 2009, the Supreme Court of Canada held that TransLink could not refuse to host politically charged ads.

The only way the transit authority could have legitimately removed the Disappearing Palestine ads would have been by asserting that they amount to “hate speech” — which they don’t.

The Disappearing Palestine posters, however, certainly apply ill-context and propagandising by, for example, failing to inform observers of the Arab insurgency following the 1947 Partition Plan as a basis for understanding the 1949 borders wrote Urback.

It also failed to explain the dubious way in which the UN defines its “five million” Palestinian refugees, though the number was still slapped on the bottom of many TransLink posters.

 3-SWU Palestine ad

RIGHT: Canadian PAC’s Martha Roth walks past an ad paid for by the movement

 

The StandWithUs ads, says Urback, “likewise use an irrelevant starting point to depict the loss of Jewish land, much in the same way that citing the Kingdom of Commagene would be fairly useless to any contemporary discourse about Armenian border disputes.”

While it’s fair to assert that the relationship between Canada and Israel is the strongest it has ever been, she says.

“The intricacies of Middle Eastern affairs do not easily fit on the side of a bus,” says Urback, “which is precisely the point.

“These ads, like most advertisements, are meant to cheaply win over a handful of observers by presenting a glossed-over version of fact.”

 

South African related events…

 

When BDS South Africa used the “Disappearing Palestine” maps on a very public billboard campaign last year, they went one step further in their deception, wrote website MyShtetl at the time in a story headlined:BDS-SA’s BIG LIE! “As if it wasn’t enough to use the text of the message to project a falsehood,” said MyShtetl, “BDS-SA was not happy to use series of maps used by Palestinian solidarity groups globally.
 
They simply removed one of the four maps - the key one – deciding in their wisdom to test SA’s laws on truthful advertising one bit further by presenting another falsehood.”

3-SWU - SA Billboard

RIGHT: BDS South Africa ran a billboard campaign using the Palestinian maps last year – but left out the crucial one

 
BDS-SA had removed the crucial 1947 UN-proposed partition plan map to ensure that the original US advertising campaign was deemed to be “factually inaccurate” by Ron Meier, a director of the independent and authoritative Anti-Defamation League, in part because they count Arab citizens of Israel among the “Palestinian refugees.”

StandWithUs were in the SA news this year

The group StandWithUs were also central to Rhodes University laying charges of Racism against students and staff who had put up pro-Israel posters on campus during Israel Apartheid week earlier this year.

The posters that the students had used were downloaded from the StandWithUs advocacy website. The MAIL & GUARDIAN ran a full page story in May this year after the university’s own Fairness Forum, to whom the matter had been referred, came back to the august institution's management saying that while the posters were homophobic, they were in no way racist.

Rhodes still planned to charge the students and even threatened to disband the Fairness Forum, said the M&G, but no action has been taken to date.

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