In D.C., Dueling Israel Ads


A battle of the ads is shaping up this week in Washington, D.C. to coincide with the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

A coalition of human rights groups, including the Washington Interfaith Alliance for Middle East Peace, has placed 100 “End US Aid to Israel” advertisements in Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority subway cars.

The Israel Project, a nonprofit pro-Israel group, is launching its own ad campaign both in print in Washington and nationwide on four cable TV stations.

The 30-second commercial features the remarks of Netanyahu and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. In it, Blair said Palestinians and Israelis “are not destined to be enemies,” and Netanyahu said they share the same dream of “achieving peace, prosperity and security for all.”

The Israel Project’s ad campaign is slated to begin Saturday, one day after Netanyahu’s scheduled White House meeting with President Barack Obama. Netanyahu is scheduled also to address the annual policy meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Monday and a joint session of Congress Tuesday.

AIPAC, as it always does, is pushing now for maintaining foreign assistance programs at the current levels — $3.2 billion for Israel and more than $1 billion for Egypt. With pressure mounting to cut federal spending as a deficit-reduction measure, there is growing talk in Washington of possible across-the-board aid cuts that would neither single out nor exempt Israel.

Thousands of those attending the meeting are expected to see the subway ads, which for the next four weeks urges the U.S. to end military aid to Israel. The ad sponsors, who call themselves the “DC Riders for Peace Campaign,” contend that the U.S. has given Israel a total of $61.3 billion in military aid over the years and that it has led only to violence.

Peace is possible, the groups maintain, when the taxpayers “begin to demand that our government support policies that promote a genuine lasting peace based on dignity, security and equality for both Israelis and Palestinians.”

The Israel Project pointed out that the ad “runs contrary to the wishes of American voters, who, in a recent national survey, overwhelmingly said the U.S. should support Israel.” The April survey found that 61 percent of voters said Israel is making an effort for peace and that 53 percent believe the Palestinians are making “not much” or “no effort.”

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder and president of The Israel Project, noted that the recent signing of a unity alliance by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with the Hamas terrorist organization was “a major setback for peace.”