A new ad campaign in some New York train stations has caused upset with insinuations that Israel steals Arab land. Billboards on Metro North train stations in Westchester County include four maps of Israel and show Israel growing at the expense of its Arab neighbors.
The posters also note that 4.7 million people are classified as “Palestinian refugees.”
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has denounced the ads as “deliberately misleading.” The Israeli-Arab conflict “is extremely complex and cannot be summarized in a series of four maps,” said ADL regional director Ron Meier.
“This ad campaign completely ignores the facts, including the history of land ownership prior to 1948, Israel’s repeated efforts to exchange land for peace, and the commitment of successive Israel governments to achieving a two-state solution with the Palestinians,” he added.
The ads, which start with a map of the entire state of Israel labeled “Palestine,” appear to state that even the original, United Nations internationally recognized borders of Israel reflect a form of land theft.
Israel was established within narrow borders proposed by the United Nations Partition Plan in 1947, but expanded somewht shortly after, after winning a war of independence at great human cost against seven invading Arab armies which attempted to destroy the fledgling Jewish state.
In 1967, Israel fought multiple Arab armies again, and won again, in what is now known as the Six Day War. The war saw Israel return to Judea, Samaria, Gaza and the Golan, all areas which had been home to Jewish communities before the 1948 war and were part of the land alotted to the Jewish homeland in the San-Remo Conference of 1920.
The Palestinian Authority was later given control over much of Judea, Samaria and Gaza by Israel and jurisdiction over 96% of its Arab inhabitants, but its leaders have turned down multiple Israeli offers for a PA-led Arab state in the region. Israel withdrew unilaterally from Gaza, and has suffered endless rocket attacks ever since.
The transitions from the short-lived UN borders to Israel’s internationally recognized borders, and from that to the post-1967 war borders, appear in the ads under the title “Palestinian Loss of Land.”
Perhaps the most mendacious map is the first, which shows all of Israel as “Palestine” in 1946. The region – then under British control - was already home to a large and growing Jewish population that sought a state of its own. The area is misleadingly labelled "Palestine" without any explanation, despite the fact that there was no people claiming to be Palestinian at the time. In fact, in 1946, the word "Palestine" was simply the name the conquering Romans called Judea, not referring to a nation, and Jews living there before 1948 were also called Palestinians. The Jewish English newspaper was called the Palestine Post (later to be the Jerusalem Post) - a name that had no connection to the Arab "Palestinians" who first appeared on the world scene in the 1960's.
The campaign’s statement on refugees is controversial as well. The UN uses a different definition of “refugee” for those descended from Arabs who fled Israel during the War of Independence than it does anywhere else on earth. Only Arabs from what is now Israel pass their “refugee” status to children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren, making the “refugee” population bigger each year.
Using the commonly accepted definition would reduce the number of refugees to 30,000.
The map campaign was funded by Henry Clifford, who chairs the tiny Committee for Peace in Israel and Palestine activist group. Clifford dismissed criticism this week, saying, “All of the Middle East is infected with the virus of the Arab-Israeli conflict. People need to know the truth of the matter.”