Billboard battle over Israel heats up in Montana

(JTA) — The capital of Montana has become the site of a billboard battle over American support for Israel.

The pro-Israel group StandWithUs put up one billboard in Helena on July 15 and will put up another on Monday to counter two billboards calling for an end to U.S. military aid to Israel.

The StandWithUs billboards read, “The U.S.-Israel Relationship Creates Hundreds of Thousands of Jobs in America” and “Israel Celebrates Diversity.”

“We cannot let hostile messages, with their deceptive, velvet-gloved rhetoric, influence unsuspecting commuters,” StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein said in a statement.

The Helena Service for Peace and Justice put up billboards at key traffic intersections at the end of May with the message “Tell Congress: Spend Our Money At Home Not on the Israeli Military.”

“We’re focusing on Israel as not many people realize 8 million tax dollars a day goes to the Israeli military,” Service for Peace and Justice founder Frank Kromkowski told the Helena Independent Record. “We would like to change Israel’s behavior [toward the Palestinians].”

The Service for Peace and Justice billboards have been put up in conjunction with the Coalition to Stop 30 Billion to Israel, an organization that advocates ending American military aid to Israel.

The Helena billboards come after a similar battle in Missoula, Mont., where StandWithUs partnered with Congregation Har Shalom to counter similar billboards criticizing American military aid to the Jewish state.

Montana had 1,350 Jewish residents as of 2010. A study that year placed Montana as 42nd among states for number of Jews per 100,000 residents.

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