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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: Palestine | San Francisco | Anti-War
BART Advertisements: "Stop Palestinian Leaders From Teaching Hate & Violence"
"Stop Palestinian Leaders From Teaching Hate & Violence - Say Yes to Peace," read the text-only advertisements currently found in several BART stations in San Francisco. The ads purport to advocate "peace" between Israelis and Palestinians, but attacking those with whom one claims to want peace is an odd way of doing so. The ads are just wrong on many levels.
Of course, the ads are not really about promoting peace. They are a tool to denigrate the Palestinian people in the eyes of U.S. citizens, to paint all Palestinians with a broad brush as anti-semitic terrorists. If low-information voters see these ads, they might buy into the myth, or have it reinforced for them, that Israelis are currently suffering at the hands of Palestinian terrorists, unaware of Israel's ongoing campaign of racist ethnic cleansing in the occupied territories. As long as Palestinians are all seen as evil, or less than human, Israel can continue with its colonial expansion unabated, subsidized by American taxpayers. There will be no pressure from the U.S. for a real peace.
While the ads promote a supporting website in large print, smaller type reveals the advertisements to have been paid for by a Los Angeles-based pro-Israeli lobby called Stand With Us. In a disingenuous attempt to portray the ads as a fair-minded plea for peace, the Say Yes to Peace website's About Us page, as it acknowledes that the ads are a project of Stand With Us, omits a key line from the Stand With Us website's mission statement: "we strive to ensure that Israel's side of the story is told." The group is called Stand With Us (implying "not them") after all. The misinformation on both websites is too much to detail here, but it is especially galling that the Say Yes to Peace site completely ignores the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian land and declares that "Israel has recognized Palestinian nationalism. Now the Palestinians must also accept Jewish nationalism."
The anti-Palestinian ads are a response to earlier BART ads sponsored by Northern California Friends of Sabeel, American Muslims for Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace that demanded an end to U.S. military funding of Israel. Complaints from the public about a previous version of the Stand With Us ads -- which depicted the eyes of a menacing-looking Arab "terrorist" with the message "Stop Palestinian Terrorists" -- led to it being pulled by BART officials. The ones running now are apparently okay with the transit agency. If you find the ads misleading and offensive, you can find BART contact information at http://bart.gov/siteinfo/contact.aspx.