Pro Israel ads now on buses

Aug. 18, 2013 @ 01:32 AM

If you boarded a Chapel Hill transit bus on Saturday, then there’s a good chance you’ve already seen the new pro Israel bus ad that made its debut that day.
The ad titled “Imagine Peace is paid for by StandWithUs, a nonprofit and international Israel education organization, and the NC Triangle Voice For Israel. They are teaming to run the ad inside 98 town transit buses for one year.
The new ad shows what appear to be a young Jewish boy and a young Arab boy hugging and smiling for the camera.
It states: “Imagine Peace in a Middle East where Israel and her neighbors share technology and resources to create a future of peace and prosperity for generations to come. The possibilities are endless.”
The StandWithUS ad is a counter to what the group call an anti-Israel ad that was placed inside town buses by the Church of Reconciliation last year.
That ad, which ran for one year, urged the U.S. to end military aid to Israel.
Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs, said the church’s ad showing happy pictures of Israeli and Palestinian fathers with their sons is deceptive and confuses the public. 
“The ad's words suggest that the U.S. should stop financial assistance to Israel, implying that only Israel is to blame for a lack of peace,” Rothstein said in a statement. “The message is deceptive, and uses velvet-gloved rhetoric to try to influence unsuspecting commuters who may not know the facts.”

Mark Davidson, pastor at the Church of Reconciliation, denied the claim that the church and other organizations in its coalition, are anti-Israel.
“This is a false and misleading charge, and we respectfully request that this smear be retracted,” Davidson said. “Characterizing groups as pro or anti is simplistic and unhelpful. If we're anything, we're pro-peace.” 
He added that the church’s ad was an attempt to spark civil and respectful dialogue about peace in Israel and Palestine.
 “Specifically, our goal was to highlight the role of U.S. military aid to Israel, which we maintain is counter-productive to peace,” Davidson said.
Meanwhile, Michael Ross, chairman of V4I, said the timing of the ad is relevant because of the start of recent peace talks.

“Israel's willingness to take extraordinary, even painful steps for peace, including releasing convicted Palestinian criminals confirms the subtext of our ad,” Ross said. “Our ad shows a far more truthful and important aspect of the situation which counters the anti-Israel ad.”
The Church of Reconciliation’s ad featured an Israeli man and a Palestinian man both holding their grandchildren with “Build Peace with justice and equality. End U.S. military aid to Israel” written underneath.
It caused a fiery debate about First Amendment rights and the appropriateness of political and religious ads on town buses.
The American Freedom Defense Initiative weighed in by submitting a proposal to place five of the pro-Israel group’s ads on the exterior of town buses.
And Pam Geller, the executive director of the organization, threatened to sue the town if it didn’t take the group’s ad. She did not, however, complete the town’s submission process.
The council approved a bus advertising policy in December that allows religious, political and social issue ads, but restricts ads deemed false, misleading, deceptive or disrespectful.