Row over 'misleading' Israel advert in New York stations

By Jennifer Lipman, July 13, 2012

Members of the Jewish community in New York have reacted angrily at the posting of "misleading" advertisements in train stations that they claim show an incorrect version of the history of the Jews in Israel.

The adverts feature four maps, going from British Mandate Palestine to the Partition Plan, the fledgling state of Israel and the modern country.

The maps delineate Palestinian and Jewish territory, but the first map – dated 1946 – suggests that there was only a tiny number of Jews living in the area before independence. The maps are shown under the headline "4.7 million Palestinians are classified by the U.N. as refugees" but make no mention of the existential threats encountered by Israel between 1946 and today.

The adverts have been sponsored by former financier Henry Clifford, who chairs a group called the Committee for Peace in Israel/Palestine, and have been posted in stations in areas with large Jewish populations, including Scarsdale. At a cost of $25,000, he has had them placed at 50 different locations in order to "educate and inform people" about the history of the Middle East.

"To show a map saying that Palestinian land goes from this situation in 1948 to that situation in 1967 without mentioning the fact that Israel faced existential extinction is such a gross distortion," the director of the American Jewish Committee Westchester told the Hudson Valley's Journal News.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is extremely complex and cannot be summarised in a series of four maps," said Ron Meier, the Anti-Defamation League's New York director, who described the posters as misleading.

"This campaign completely ignores the facts, including the history of land ownership prior to 1948, Israel's repeated efforts to exchange land for peace, and the commitment of successive Israeli governments to achieving a two-state solution with the Palestinians."

Last updated: 3:08pm, July 13 2012