San Francisco Bay Area, CA
When the “Be on our side” ads appeared on the internet in October, 2010, many of us in the Bay Area had the same thought: Why not here? After all, the Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine had already done the groundwork, and now they were ready to lend a hand.
So Northern California Friends of Sabeel took the initiative and contracted with Bay Area Rapid Transit, paying for the first small run of three ads in high traffic stations – Downtown Berkeley, 12th Street Oakland and San Francisco Civic Center. [view press release]
The ads went up on December 5, 2010 and ran for four weeks, bringing in several generous contributions to help us launch a second round.
But the advertisements also drew a response from the Israel Lobby group Stand With Us, which placed their own ads in six stations. These went up on January 17, 2011, and showed a pair of eyes wrapped in a keffiyeh with words, “Stop Palestinian Terrorism.” Below was a photo of children at play and the words “Teach Peace.” The ads listed a website, SayYestoPeace.org, which accuses Palestinians of teaching their children to hate.
We decided to make no statements about their ad but to continue with our message of non-violence and coexistence, handing out pocket cards and raising funds for a second round of ads. But others spoke up, and in response to their complaints, BART removed the counter ads, saying that they appeared “disparaging or demeaning to Palestinians as a whole” and violated the district’s advertising standards.
On February 7, a Stand With Us replacement ad went up for a contracted term of four weeks. It included no photo but stated, “Stop Palestinian Leadership From Teaching Hate and Violence.”
The original ads and counter-ads generated news coverage in the Jewish press and elsewhere, including a sympathetic story in the weekly Bay Guardian. This media attention brought in more donations, and gave a boost to our fundraising efforts.
We urge everyone who can to join in supporting the second phase of our campaign by clicking on the Donate button below or by writing a check to FOSNA (Friends of Sabeel North America), with Bay Area Ad Campaign written on the memo line, and sending it to NorCal Friends of Sabeel, 1700 Shattuck Ave. #314, Berkeley, CA 94709.
Our advertising campaign has also generated more endorsements from local advocacy groups, who have supplied us with funding and encouragement. The list of sponsors to date is included below:
Northern California Friends of Sabeel
NorCal Sabeel supports the work of Jerusalem-based Sabeel, a group founded by Palestinian Christians who work to end the occupation through non-violent means. Our umbrella group, Friends of Sabeel-North America, holds regional conferences that bring together Muslim, Christian and Jewish academics and activists to explore the realities of the Occupation. The organizers of a Sabeel conference held in March 2010 in Marin County became the nucleus of NorCal Sabeel. Information on Sabeel and FOSNA is available at www.sabeel.org and www.fosna.org. Contact the San Francisco Bay Area Campaign organizers here.
American Muslims for Palestine
American Muslims for Palestine aims to educate the U.S. public about the Palestinian search for justice, freedom and self-determination. The organization seeks to put a human face on Palestinians and to respond to current events and commentary by issuing statements, press releases and publications. It holds commemorative and informational events and works to place books on Palestine in permanent public library collections. AMP was founded in 2006 and has ten chapters in the United States. See http://www.ampalestine.org.
A Jewish Voice for Peace
Jewish Voice for Peace is a national organization that provides a powerful voice for the many Jews and others who believe a lasting peace in the Middle East can only come through justice and equality for both Palestinians and Israelis. It calls for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on international law and universal human rights applied equally to Palestinians and Israelis. JVP believes that challenging both Israel’s Occupation and the American institutions that support it requires citizens of the U.S. and Israel to take grassroots action. See www.jvp.org. Contact the Bay Area chapter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Middle East Children’s Alliance
For over twenty years MECA has provided direct support to Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and within Israel as well as to people in need in Iraq and Lebanon. It has shipped millions of dollars of aid in the form of medical supplies, food and other necessities, and it has directly supported clinics, counseling programs, children’s centers and libraries and organizations working for the rights of prisoners, women and labor. MECA also holds educational events in the U.S. to inform Americans about the Occupation. Currently, MECA is promoting its MAIA project to bring clean water to children in Palestine. See www.mecaforpeace.org.
Bay Area Women in Black
Women in Black is a transnational network of feminist activists, including women of many ethnic backgrounds, who stand against militaristic and fundamentalist leadership in all countries. Members of Bay Area Women in Black work non-violently to end the Israeli Occupation, with its violations of human rights and international law. The group supports a just resolution of this conflict to bring peace and security to the people of the Middle East and challenges U.S. financial and military aid, which supports the Occupation. Members stand in silent vigil every Saturday in front of the Grand Lake Theatre in Oakland. See www.bayareawomeninblack.org.