Sunday, November 4, 2012

Billboard Wars Redux. The Sacramento edition

Curiouser and Curiouser.  The original announcement from the Free Palestine Movement  largely took credit for the anti-Israel billboard that went up on I 50 near Sacramento, and even requested that donations to be sent to the FPM  "office"- which just happens to be Paul Larudee's home.  It follows:


Here is the new billboard, paid with your donations.  It is viewed from US-50 westbound, just before it meets with I-80, southwest of Sacramento, which is a section of the main highway belt of the city, receiving major traffic.
As you can see, the billboard was designed to appeal to persons not particularly informed about the issue, and not even necessarily sympathetic to Palestine.  This is deliberate: there is no point trying to win people who already sympathize with us.  The billboard has been up for two weeks now, and will remain for another two weeks or more.  It connects to a website that offers additional information and is another donation site.

  As we previously announced, our coalition is taking the campaign national, and we expect to announce additional advertisements in other states before long, subject to your donations.  Please continue to support our work by sending your tax-exempt check to the address below, or go to our website and donate on line.  It’s tax deductible either way, and we encourage you to sign up for automatic monthly payments to assure continuous funding.  If you are sending a check you can mail it to:
FPM (Bus Ad Campaign)

405 Vista Heights Rd.  El Cerrito, CA 94530

But now a "clarification" has been issued.  From the FPM team:
To clarify our earlier message below: the Free Palestine Movement is proud to have provided the funds for the Sacramento billboard. We are not the sponsors, however, of this billboard or of this new Stop the Blank Check campaign.  The sponsors are the Council for the National Interest and If Americans Knew.

If you want to donate directly to the Stop the Blank Check campaign to educate the American public via billboards and other media, please send your contribution directly to either of these organizations, with a note specifying that these are for the Stop the Blank Check campaign

What comes to mind is the adage "No honor among thieves".  Paul Larudee has found himself on the outs with other activists before.   In an open letter to Paul, anti-Israel activist Lubna  Masarwa accused him of falsely taking credit for the  Welcome to Palestine campaign

You have appeared in the media over the last week, often stating that
you organized the Welcome to Palestine campaign. All statements you
have made in regards to this campaign were false.

While our not so esteemed opponents are duking it out over who takes credit for what failed project, there is some positive news from the pro-Israel side.

StandWithUs (SWU) is countering anti-Israel billboards by placing its own ad beginning November 5 for three weeks. The SWU ad encourages the public to "Tell Congress Not to Support Palestinian Groups Like Hamas Because They Don't Want Peace." It specifically targets an anti-Israel billboard that calls for ending military aid to Israel. The 12x50 foot billboard will be visible on Interstate 80 near Harbor Boulevard exit.

"We cannot allow the public to be misled by the factual distortions in yet another anti-Israel campaign. The anti-Israel ads try to undermine American support for Israel by misrepresenting Israel and its history. They leave out the real reason Israel needs to defend itself, which are ongoing threats from terrorist cells in the West Bank, from the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, and from the existential threats from countries such as Iran. They leave out the numerous times Israel has given up land for peace - such as in Gaza in 2005 when, in exchange, Israel ended up with thousands of rockets fired at its southern communities, with Hamas claiming responsibility,” states Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs.

"Most Americans are aware that Israel is on the front lines of terrorism, and know that the military aid the small country receives helps to protect its citizens. They know that the real injustice is that Palestinian Arab leaders have rejected all territorial compromises for peace and refuse to continue direct negotiations. SWU is gratified that the majority of Americans do not subscribe to the agenda of these misguided anti-Israel groups who sponsor the ads, and who, in effect, help the extremists whose goal is to destroy the only Democracy in the Middle East.  Most Americans recognize that Israel is at the forefront of advances in technology, conservation and humanitarian programs that have benefited the world. They understand that constructive exchanges are the best hope for peaceful coexistence," states Gail Rubin, StandWithUs Sacramento/Davis Area Coordinator.

StandWithUs has countered every anti-Israel billboard that has appeared in the United States since 2007, whether they called for ending military aid to Israel or used maps that distort the region's history. SWU countered anti-Israel billboards displayed in San Francisco and Berkeley BART stations and Muni buses five times in 2011-12; in one instance by highlighting Israel's achievements in AIDS research and water conservation. On October 22, 2012, SWU placed two ads in Portland, Oregon light rail and buses for a total of 19 that stress Israel's quest for peace. In July 2012, SWU placed six ads in 75 locations in New York's Metro-North stations to counter posters of maps that misrepresent Israel's history.

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