Vandals hit S.F. billboards with anti-Israel invective

SAN FRANCISCO (j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California) — An activist group claimed responsibility for plastering anti-Israel messages over legitimate advertisements on San Francisco billboards.

The group, calling itself the California Department of Corrections, claimed in an Internet posting to have struck billboards last week in nine city locations.

The bogus billboards, designed to resemble a Treasury note for $7 million, featured the headline “Thanks for the Blank Check, America” and an Israeli flag. It went on to excoriate Israel and to criticize the United States for its Israel aid package, purportedly costing $7 million per day.

Tony Alwin, a spokesman for Clear Channel Outdoor, which owns and manages billboards, said he knew of only one vandalized site, and that the illegal billboard would be taken down immediately. He said Clear Channel Outdoor takes the vandalism seriously.

“I talked to our management about the issue,” said Alwin, speaking Wednesday from the company’s headquarters in Phoenix, Ariz. “Everyone’s pretty upset with it, and we’ll see what we can do to prevent it in the future."

Yitzhak Santis, director of Middle East affairs for the San Francisco-based Jewish Community Relations Council, noted past incidents of anti-Israeli vandalism on billboard and bus shelter posters.

“I think they are part of the revolutionary left in the Bay Area,” Santis said of the activists. “They call it guerrilla billboarding, where they put their own billboards and ads in shelters. Obviously it’s illegal, and we’re very concerned about this.”

Santis said the incident was part of the BDS (boycott-divestment-sanctions) campaign to demonize Israel.

"Whether bus shelters or billboards, it’s all part of that campaign," he said. "The community needs to be aware of what is happening.”

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