The head of the Jewish federation in Vancouver and the Canadian city’s transit agency are at odds over the legality of an anti-Israel ad campaign on buses there.
The ads, which went up Tuesday, purport to show the “disappearance of Palestine due to Israeli occupation over the past 65 years.” The ads — 15 bus posters and one large “mural” in a station — consist of four maps spanning from 1946 to 2012 and illustrate “Palestine” shrinking over the years.
“This is of grave concern to our community at large because the ads make the use of the buses unwelcome and unsafe,” Mitchell Gropper, chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, told The Province newspaper.
TransLink, the transit agency, said in a written statement that it was advised by its lawyers that it was legally obligated to run the ads. But Gropper, an attorney, disagrees with TransLink’s legal determination and said the federation has retained a lawyer to consider its options.
“TransLink has said the law required them to publish these ads,” he said, “but that is certainly not the case.”
The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center in Toronto said it was “disturbed to learn about TransLink’s agreement to run historically distorted anti-Israel advertisements,” and said the ads were “provocative and incite hatred and contempt.”
Marty Roth, a member of the Palestine Awareness Coalition that is behind the $15,000, four-month campaign, told The Province that the battle over the ads had already been won.
“This will be controversial with a number of traditional Jewish organizations that have tried to suppress the ads,” Roth said. “But TransLink has refused to agree with them.”