Several weeks ago, a conglomerate of anti-Israel activists known as the "Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel" claimed to be "thrilled" when 23 Los Angeles area billboards featuring their message of "Tell Congress: Spend our Money at Home, Not on the Israeli Military" pictured over the image of an American flag were erected.
One week later, the billboard operator, CBS Outdoor, (a subsidiary of the CBS Corporation) removed the billboards on the grounds that the Stop $30 Billion to Israel organization had used the CBS name without permission in their organizational e-mails and in their petition thanking CBS for putting up the billboards.
According to their web site's mission statement, the Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel, "advocates an end to the ten year commitment of $30 billion in U.S. taxpayer-funded military aid pledged to Israel in 2007 by the Bush administration. We also oppose Israel’s ongoing occupation and control over Palestinian Territories – East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip."
Among those political offshoots that lend their name and support to the Coalition to Stop $30 Billiion to Israel are Amnesty International Chapter 101, Albuquerque, Another Jewish Voice (Albuquerque), Another Jewish Voice - Santa Fe (AJVSF), Irish Freedom Committee, Middle East Peace and Justice Alliance, Muslim Women Outreach, The Social Concerns Committee of the Albuquerque Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, the New Mexico People's Weekly Forum, the Pax Christi Saint Bernadette (Albuquerque), Stop The War Machine, the United Nations Association, Albuquerque Chapter, and Veterans For Peace in Santa Fe and Albuquerque (VFPA).
Having orchestrated billboard campaigns of this nature in several other American cities to spread its vehemently anti-Israel message, the "Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel" entered the Los Angeles market on June 11th, with billboards scheduled to run for four weeks, and more to follow.
Through its literature and fundraising appeals the "Coalition" overtly implied that CBS Outdoor supported its anti-Israel cause. In their online petition, the "Coalition" stated, "By contracting with the grassroots, nonprofit Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel, this billboard company is demonstrating its support for the basic American tradition of free speech.”
Responding almost immediately, CBS Outdoor, removed the billboards only a week after they were put up, while informing the Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel in a curt note that their money would be refunded, as they had used the CBS Outdoor name without permission.
The Coalition asserts that the billboards were dropped because of pressure from pro-Israel groups; not because it crossed red lines by implying that CBS Outdoor supports its cause. It has embarked on a campaign calling for its supporters to deluge CBS Outdoor with phone calls and e-mails demanding that the billboards go back up.
"These kinds of factual distortions characterize the anti-Israel campaigners", said Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs, a pro-Israel advocacy organization based in Los Angeles. "They misrepresent facts about Israel and mislead the public about who supports their movement, as they did with CBS Outdoor.
"Why? Probably because they hope to persuade well-meaning people that their cause is respectable and mainstream, when in fact it is a fringe, extremist movement that seeks to harm the U.S. and one of our most valuable allies, Israel. They can't make that case without distorting the facts," she added.
Countering the anti-Israel billboard campaign over the last several years with use of their own ads, Stand With Us has responded to the inflammatory, anti-Israel canards of the Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel in such cities as Washington, DC, Albuquerque, Houston, Chicago, New York, Seattle and San Francisco.
In the coming months, Stand With Us will be erecting 23 of their own pro-Israel billboards throughout the Los Angeles area.