Wednesday, April 22, 2015
I'm all for free speech, but there's nothing in the 1st Amendment that says a publisher HAS TO publish anything it receives. Otherwise, my very convincing article about how we actually evolved from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles who were warped back in time (as alluded to in the classic video game, "Turtles in Time") would have been published in the New York Times.
Secondly, Washington Post reporter Michael Miller writes, "Making the case all the stranger is that the posters are not the work of an Islamist group, but rather a pro-Israel organization." But is the "American Freedom Defense Initiative" even pro-Israel? Because this ad does nothing to convince anyone to support Israel. It does the exact opposite.
The most convincing argument among liberals inclined against Israel is that "the country is not a place of freedom and justice, but a place where Arabs and Muslims are subjugated, segregated and subjected to discrimination and prejudice." All this ad does is, well, reveal that this supposedly pro-Israel group believes "all Muslims are terrorists." Which plays into the hands of Israel's critics. If critics call you a country founded on prejudice... maybe don't launch an ad campaign that highlights your prejudicial viewpoint?
If you want to place an ad convincing people to support Israel, then why not create an ad like this:
That took me all of 2 seconds, so excuse the clunky language. My ad team will refine it in our brainstorming sessions. But hell, it makes a much better point. It's easy to say Israel shouldn't exist, that Israel is an apartheid state. But what do you want instead? Gaza?
What other country in the Middle East would you hold up as an example of equal human rights? What other place could an Arab and a Jew even consider having a friendship? That's the best argument for Israel-- its government may be a right-wing nut factory, its rights record sometimes spotty, its military sometimes overzealous (sounds kinda like a country closer to home) but Israel is the only functional democracy in the Middle East that doesn't punish its people with Sharia law and allows freedom of expression (Israel is the only country in the region to have a free press, according to freedomhouse.org). It's not an evil country, hanging gay people, stoning women, arresting and torturing dissenters. It's an imperfect country, but so is the United States.
And yet the American Freedom Defense Initiative's ad plays up the viewpoint of the far-right-wingers, the messianic settlers, many of whom--just like the far-right-wingers in America---are xenophobic, racist, bigots. There are some people in Israel who believe all Muslims are terrorists, just like a lot of people in Texas do. But they're not representative of Israel. As much as the American Freedom Defense Initiative's ad makes them out to be.
I looked into this group (again, something that took me 2 seconds) and I have to disagree with reporter Michael Miller's characterization of the AFDI as a "pro-Israel group." Up until recently, the organization was actually called "Stop Islamization of America," which, as the name suggests, had little to do with supporting Israel and everything to do with spreading anti-Islamic rhetoric. Knowing this, it's clear the ad isn't aimed at convincing anyone to support Israel. It's aimed at spreading anti-Islamic hatred. Something the judge in this case should have realized.
If I were the MTA, I'd defy the judge's order. But since I'm not, I can only urge this. Deface every one of these stupid ads you see. Tear them, write over them in permanent marker, cover them in stickers. Because this ad is not how to support Israel. Not if our desire is for peace and prosperity for both Israelis and Palestinians.
Hate may grab attention. But love wins hearts.