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April 15, 2013

Anti-Israel Organizations Attack Israel with Tax Day-Themed Campaigns

Today, April 15, is “Tax Day,” the date by which all Americans are required to submit their tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). While it is an appropriate day to spend a few minutes thinking about what our government spends our tax dollars on, there are several anti-Israel organizations that are capitalizing on today’s deadline to initiate campaigns about what the U.S. government should not spend its money on: aid to Israel.

In the past week, two prominent anti-Israel organizations have launched a new website and a new report calling for an end to U.S. aid to Israel. Although a priority that has long been at the forefront of the domestic anti-Israel movement’s agenda, it has picked up steam in recent years due to economic concerns caused by the Great Recession, sequestration and budget deficits.

The first campaign, titled “Demand a Refund,” was initiated by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation in coordination with American Muslims for Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and CODEPINK. The campaign’s website features a petition from taxpayers to President Obama which reads, in part, “As a taxpayer, I am outraged that your administration is reportedly opening negotiations to give Israel up to $40 billion in U.S. taxpayer-financed weapons,” an apparent reference to defense weaponry and technology that the U.S. sells to Israel.

The petition claims that Israel uses American weapons to “commit systematic human rights abuses” and “oppress Palestinians.” It also criticizes President Obama for increasing the amount of aid to Israel during his administration. The organizers of the petition hoped to gain 10,000 signatures by today (the campaign was launched last week). At present there are a little more than 3,000 signatories.

And just last week, the anti-Israel organization If Americans Knew (IAK) released a new report titled “The Staggering Cost of Israel to Americans” to coincide with Tax Day. Originally published in 1998, the new version of the report was written by Pamela Olson, a new analyst for IAK.

Although the report makes similar allegations to the anti-aid petition highlighted above – noting, for example, that “it is critical to examine why we lavish so much aid on Israel” – the language cited in this report is far more egregious. It claims that U.S. aid to Israel is a result of the “Israel lobby” and insists that the U.S.-Israel relationship harms the U.S. because Israel causes “rage and resentment among billions of people… and sells America’s military secrets to its enemies.”

In its mention of the “Israel lobby,” the report goes so far as to allege that the U.S. and Israel do not enjoy a strong relationship because of shared values or interests but because “Congressmen receive payments and support from the lobby in exchange for their loyalty.” The report also asserts that U.S. aid to Israel makes the possibility for peace between Israel and the Palestinians “even more distant.”

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August 31, 2012

Chapel Hill is Latest Town to Be Hit with Anti-Israel Advertisements

A new anti-Israel bus ad campaign was unveiled in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, two weeks ago. The ads are part of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation’s national “Be on our Side” campaign, which promotes ending U.S. military aid to Israel. They read: “Join with us. Build peace with justice and equality. End U.S. military aid to Israel.”

The ads reportedly appeared on nearly 100 buses in Chapel Hill but have since been taken down by Chapel Hill Transit, the municipal agency that runs the town’s transportation system.

The campaign was sponsored by the Salaam-Shalom group of the Church of Reconciliation, a Presbyterian church in Chapel Hill. The pastor of the church, Mark Davidson, had announced on a strategy call organized by the US Campaign several months ago that the ads were soon scheduled to appear. While the church seems to be the primary sponsor of the ad campaign, other local organizations, including Jews for a Just Peace NC, the North Carolina Chapter of Veterans for Peace and the Coalition of Peace with Justice also helped co-sponsor the ads.

The ads were removed from the buses on August 24 because they violated the transportation agency’s advertising policy, which requires that issue-related advertising contains a disclaimer notifying viewers that the signs are “paid advertising.” Although Davidson has expressed willingness to add such a disclaimer, it is still not certain that the ads will be placed back on the buses.

The Chapel Hill ads are just the latest in a series of anti-Israel billboards and ads that have appeared in cities across the country, including Denver, Detroit and Los Angeles. The most recent billboards in New York featured a misleading series of maps of Israel that attempted to portray how Israel is intentionally swallowing up Palestinian land.

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June 15, 2012

Anti-Israel Billboard Campaign Hits Los Angeles

A Billboard Displayed in Los Angeles

Update: As of June 24th, CBS Outdoor advertising took down the 23 anti-Israel billboards because the Coalition to Stop 30 Billion to Israel used the ‘CBS Outdoor’ name in their publications without permission. Nonetheless, the group said, “we hope to continue our L.A. campaign, but regardless we will be looking at other cities to continue this important work in the future.”

In a continued effort to marginalize Israel through advertisements, a new billboard campaign was launched in Los Angeles this week by the anti-Israel organization “Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel.”

According to a press release issued by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, there will be 23 billboards displayed in the Los Angeles area that read, “Tell Congress: Spend Our Money at Home, Not on the Israeli Military.”

The US Campaign’s press release asserts that the “Israel lobby” might try to put an end to the campaign, but that supporters of the billboards’ message “cannot allow them to stifle dialogue.”

U.S. aid to Israel is critical for Israel, but it is critical for the U.S. as well. Israel is required to spend most of the aid on American-made products and military equipment, which benefits the American economy. In addition, the U.S. government rightly considers providing a key ally in the region with aid to be in its own best interests.

The Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel was first created in 2009 in New Mexico. The group has been responsible for anti-Israel billboards and ads in Albuquerque, Seattle and, most recently, Denver.

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