Anti-Israel Ads Won't Appear on Toronto Buses

Toronto Transit Commission rejects four ads that portray Israel as an "occupier", says they are "inaccurate and misleading".

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Elad Benari,

Toronto streetcar
Toronto streetcar

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) has rejected four anti-Israel advertisements that portray Israel as an “occupier” of Palestinian land, Shalom Toronto reports.

The ads, which were proposed by the Montreal-based Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME), are similar to the “Disappearing Palestine” ads that have been running on Vancouver’s transit system.

The ads claim that Palestinian “loss of land” has been “unfair” and “illegal under international law.” They would have run on the TTC’s buses, subways and bus shelters, according to Shalom Toronto.

TTC spokesman Brad Ross was quoted as having said that the ads were turned down because they were “inaccurate and misleading.”

“Our legal opinion is that there has never been a finding by any international court or tribunal with respect to the illegality of loss of land, and by making that statement, it potentially could cause discrimination or advocate hate towards a specified group, in this case Israelis and/or the Jewish people,” said Ross.

Ross said the four ads contained similar language, maps and the line “illegal under international law” as the Vancouver ads. He added that “the real legal issue” for the TTC “was a statement that we determined to be either inaccurate or misleading.”

Howard English, Senior Vice President at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), welcomed the TTC’s decision.

“We commend the TTC for rejecting the ads,” he told Shalom Toronto. “The ads present inaccurate information, and we don’t think TTC passengers should be offered inaccurate information about an issue that is so complicated, and the ads are totally out of context with reality. So we think the TTC did the right thing.”

English said that CIJA had been “in touch with TTC many months ago to discuss the possibility of ads being run, and we explained to the TTC the inaccuracies involved in the ads, and we’re pleased that the TTC understood our arguments and came to the conclusion to which it came.”

B’nai Brith Canada also welcomed the TTC’s rejection of the ads and congratulated the commission for “getting it right.”

“We congratulate the TTC for making the right decision in rejecting the ads,” said B’nai Brith CEO Frank Dimant in a statement. “They carefully reviewed their own rules and put the ad into historical context to find that it was misleading and inaccurate and could lead to hatred or violence against supporters of Israel and the Jewish community in particular."

The group that created the Vancouver campaign, the Palestine Awareness Coalition, put up 15 bus posters which it claimed illustrate the “disappearance of Palestine due to Israeli occupation over the past 65 years.” 

TransLink has refused to take the posters down, claiming they “are educational ads that are well within national advertising guidelines and the Canadian Charter.”

StandWithUs, a non-profit pro-Israel education and advocacy organization based in Los Angeles, has been countering the Vancouver anti-Israel campaign.

Earlier this month, the group placed posters of its own in ten TransLink stations. The counter-campaign runs until November 14.