A group of Palestinian activists have paid for New York subway ads calling for an end to “Israeli Apartheid” and asking the US to stop providing foreign assistance to Israel. The ads have sparked outrage of Jewish groups, but will remain for four weeks.
The ads went up in the beginning of Passover, a sacred Jewish holiday that began last week. Paid for by the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), the ads depict the silhouette of a defenseless Palestinian child who is taken hostage by a large Israeli soldier – even though the scene takes place on Palestinian ground. The organization claims this image is based on an actual photograph.
In blood-red sky that also makes up part of the Palestinian flag is a quote by Nobel Piece Prize winning South African activist, Desmond Tutu.
“I’ve been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land,” the quote reads. “It reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa.”
By comparing Israel to Apartheid South Africa, the ad has outraged both US and foreign-based Jewish groups who feel offended by the harsh accusations and outraged that they were posted on Passover.
“While Americans certainly have a right to free speech and advocacy, the abhorrent allegation of apartheid is both factually incorrect and morally reprehensible,” Geri Palast, managing director of the Israel Action Network, told the Jerusalem Post. “Israel is a democracy that includes rights for all citizens from all origins.”
The South African policy of apartheid (“separateness”) legally enforced racial segregation between blacks and whites both economically and socially to maintain ‘white supremacy’. The Anti-Defamation League, which works to stop the defamation of the Jewish people, told the Jerusalem Post that the organization was “deeply disturbed” by the comparison that the ad makes.
“Their ad campaign ignores the complicated nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and is part of the campaign to delegitimize and demonize the Jewish state,” the organization said in a statement. “It shows a profound lack of sensitivity that they chose the first day of the Jewish holiday of Passover to announce this malicious and false ad campaign.”
The Palestinian group responsible for the ad, however, has defended its decision, claiming that Israel, “subjects Palestinians on a daily basis to humiliation, deprivation, and a loss of their basic rights, including the freedom of movement.”
The AMP campaign comes just a few months after the American Freedom Defense Initiative (ADFI) paid for New York subway ads referring to Muslims as ‘savage Jihadists’. The ad told its readers to “support Israel… Defeat jihad”.
And in response to the Palestinian group’s advertisement, the ADFI has instigated another campaign striking back at the AMP.
On Friday, the ADFI came out with a set of anti-Muslim ads, which it has submitted to the New York Metropolitan Transportation Administration for approval. The ads depict Muslims murdering gay men and whipping a rape victim, claiming that these actions are being conducted in the name of ‘Sharia’ law.
“This is Islamic Apartheid,” the ad reads, “Close to one million Jews have been killed or exiled from Muslim lands since 1948. Stop US aid to Islamic states.”
Pamela Geller, head of the ADFI, has allegedly asked New York transportation officials to run the ads in the same subway stations where the pro-Palestinian posters are hanging, the New York Post reports. Although it is not clear whether her most recent ads will make it onto the transportation system’s billboards, she has previously succeeded in running controversial ads with the MTA.
At the bottom of the pro-Palestinian ad that is currently running, the MTA features a disclaimer claiming that the viewpoints expressed are not the agency’s. By publishing these ads in a place as public as the New York subway, the MTA is allowing free speech but simultaneously adding fire to the feud between the two groups.
The 'apartheid' ads will run in New York City's subway stations for four weeks, before alternating through other cities across the US.