Islamist Group Sponsors Anti-Israel Ads on NY Metro

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A radical Islamist, pro-Palestine group in the United States has launched an advertising campaign to protest against Washington’s support for the Israeli regime and insist that the U.S. stop its unconditional support of Israel.

The campaign, sponsored by American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), began in 25 stations on the Metro-North train line near New York City on the first day of the Jewish holiday of Passover. The ads will run for four weeks before moving to other cities around the country. The ads use a quote from Archbishop Desmond Tutu to imply that Israel is an apartheid state.

AMP and its chairman, Hatem Bazian, have been criticized for their radical behavior. In 2004, they praised the "uprising in Iraq" against American soldiers and the intifada in Palestine. Bazian said that what the U.S. needed is an American intifada to "fundamentally change the political dynamics here."

AMP’s 2012 conference used a logo showing Palestine replacing the state of Israel. The event featured over a dozen Islamist speakers, most of whom have ties to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and have spoken in support of Hamas and the destruction of Israel.

In 2012, Bazian described the U.S. as a racist country that tries to get "darker people [to] fight our war." AMP board member Osama Abu Irshaid describes the firing of rockets by Hamas into Israel as a form of "legitimate resistance."

Another board member is Salah Sarsour, whose brother was arrested by Israel in 1998 and informed his interrogators that Salah was financing Hamas through the Islamic Association for Palestine and the Holy Land Foundation.

The latest AMP advertisement is the latest in a series of posters that have been appearing at Metro-North stations since last year.

One ad, produced in September by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, Islam is linked to a rising number of terrorist attacks. The ad declares: "It's not Islamophobia, it's Islamorealism." That prompted community leaders and residents to stage a protest at the Metro-North White Plains train station.

The public outcry that followed the ads led the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which in charge of Metro-North, to change its advertising policy and require disclaimers on issue-oriented posters. The disclaimers must state that the MTA does not endorse the opinions in the ad. It must also disclose who paid for it. MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said the new ads from the AMP include those disclaimers.

In an e-mail statement, Donovan said, "MTA advertising spaces serve broadly as a vehicle for a wide variety of communications, including, at times, controversial ads that express viewpoints on matters of public concern. The First Amendment restricts the MTA’s control over the content and timing of the messages expressed in paid advertisements."

Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs, said "Once again, anti-Israel groups are promoting lies and misinformation, this time in New York. Placing billboards with misleading messages will not bring peace. People who are concerned about peaceful coexistence should encourage Hamas and Abbas to say yes to peace and stop launching rockets into Israeli schools, stop teaching children to hate and kill Jews, and accept Israel as the Jewish country next door."

Anne Bayefsky, a human rights scholar and activist notes that in terms of apartheid, “There were once an estimated 900,000 Jews” in the Muslim world, “but today there are less than a few thousand. They were given a choice: Die, convert or flee.”

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

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