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Jewish Voice for Peace

Tell members of the Board of Supervisors to protect free speech in San Francisco!

Protect the right to criticize Israeli and US policies in public spaces! 

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Dear Supporter,

A few months ago, I was appalled  to see anti-Palestinian ads in San Francisco MUNI buses that  referred  to Arabs and Muslims as uncivilized and as "savages". Jewish Voice for Peace condemned these ads and so did San Francisco city leaders.(1) Among other steps taken, the San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority (SFMTA) on its own initiative donated the proceeds from that ad campaign to the San Francisco Human Rights Commission (SFHRC) for a study about the impact of Islamophobia on local Muslim and Arab communities.

Now the Jewish Community Relations Council is using this precedent  to put pressure on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to stigmatize ads expressing legitimate criticism of Israel by placing them on a par with the Islamophobic bigotry expressed above.

Criticism of Israel is not the same as bigotry! 

American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) have placed an ad on MUNI buses(2) that is neither racist nor defamatory. The ad includes a quote from Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu comparing his experiences in Apartheid South Africa to the experiences of Palestinians under occupation, and asks for an end to US military aid to Israel. The ideas expressed in this ad are not novel. In fact, the apartheid analogy has been made repeatedly by South African and Israeli leaders, as well as by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.(3) And the call to end military aid to Israel is a legitimate position taken by Americans about the use of their taxpayer money.

You may agree or disagree with the content of this ad, but one thing is for sure: this ad does not target Jews, Israelis, or any other group. The ad simply states a political opinion. This is what freedom of speech is all about.

A number of San Francisco Supervisors are asking the Transit Authority (SFMTA) to treat proceeds from the  AMP ad in the same way they treated proceeds from the hateful “savage” ads, and to donate the AMP proceeds to the SFHRC to "fight growing intolerance alienating the Jewish community." And yet, the ad does not target the Jewish community, and, as we all know, the Bay Area Jewish community does not hold a monolithic view about Israel-Palestine.

The Supervisors suggest further that SFMTA should not accept any political ads in the future. That would cut off one of the few remaining public spaces we have left for communicating political ideas. We need your help to stand up for freedom of speech.

Carol Sanders
Jewish Voice for Peace, Bay Area

(1) Community groups and allies cautiously welcome SFMTA response to anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic advertisementsJVP condemns new wave of Islamophobic ads
(2) See copy of the AMP ad here.
JVP supports San Francisco bus advertising campaign