BART removes anti-Palestinian ad


Offensive advertisements promoting a right-wing Zionist viewpoint of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were removed from all BART stations this week. “They could be commonly interpreted as disparaging or demeaning to Palestinians as a whole,” according to BART spokesperson Jim Allison told us, saying the violated the district's advertising standards.

The ad featured the words “Stop Palestinian Terrorism” above a picture of a face covered with a traditional Arab scarf, known as a keffiyeh, and the words “Teach Peace” above the picture of children playing soccer. The keffiyeh has evolved into a symbol of Palestinian resistance to occupation after former PLO leader Yasser Arafat began regularly wearing one. StandWithUs, a self-purported pro-Israel advocacy organization, produced and paid for the ad.

Per BART policy, StandWithUs was informed about the decision to remove the ads and asked to provide substitutes, which it did. The organization’s CEO, Roz Rothstein, told us she felt BART’s evaluation of the ad was “unfair…It would only be disparaging if you don’t look at it properly… the Palestinians deserve a future too, that was the message of the ad. Just as it is not disparaging for an Iranian to point a finger at a [Iranian President Mamhoud] Ahmadinejad, it is not disparaging to point a finger at Hamas.”

However, three individual who did find the ad offensive enough that they complained to BART, initiating the reevaluation of the ad’s content, according to Allison. One Palestinian American who thought they were offensive was Miriam Zouzounias who is the membership coordinator for San Francisco’s Arab Resource and Organizing Center.

She said the ad made her feel “sick to her stomach.” The keffiyeh is a common cultural and political item of clothing, she said, and she happened to be wearing one on her backpack when she noticed the ad. “I hate that [the keffiyeh] is being targeted, portrayed as what terrorists wear.” According to Zouzounias’s interpretation, the ad’s message was that Palestinians do not but should start to invest in productive and peaceful activities for their children, a message that was markedly untrue to her. “Kids playing sports…and doing art are the kind of outlets…Palestinian civil society works really hard for,” she said.

In responding to claims the ad might be offensive, San Francisco’s StandWithUs lay leader Mike Harris told us, “I don’t think that claiming [the keffiyeh] is cultural in that instance is really justified…You don’t see many people in their routine, everyday lives, even if they are Arab American, wearing scarves covering their faces.” He agreed the keffiyeh could be considered a cultural symbol if was adorned on someone’s head rather than covering a face because that it is how the scarf is normally worn.

The StandWithUs ad was response to a previous ad by a group with an opposing view of the conflict. That ad by Friends of Sabeel-North America, a organization that supports the Palestinian Christian liberation theology movement, advocated that “peace and justice” requires an “end to U.S. military aid to Israel,” referring to decades-long aid which has transferred more than $100 billion from the United States treasury to the state of Israel.

Harris said, however, that the ad was “very misleading. The website connected to it promoted BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel) and [mentioned] groups that cannot be considered as promoting peace and justice.” Harris said true peace is “peace between Israelis and Palestinians” and not “peace without Israel.”

FOSNA administrative officer Sister Elaine Kelley said the problem with the StandWithUs ad is that it “turns the focus away from the topic of the occupation and toward the unfortunate violence of some Palestinians.”


That you don't have a right to have your feelings protected?

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jan. 27, 2011 @ 8:40 pm

There is nothing offensive in calling an end to terrorism and hateful incitment even if the target is Palestinians, the darlings of the left. The way I see it, the poster calls for changing attituedes on the Palestinian side. Those who oppose and censor this kind of expression must think that peace in the Middle East is possible without Israel. I have been to Israel a few times and I am convinced that Israel will not disappear from the Middle East map without a huge fight. If Israel does, so will the Palestinians. Therefore all those who support a real peace solution, should not condone violence from any side and push for a reconciliation among the Palestinan and Israeli peoples.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 27, 2011 @ 9:36 pm

Simply stating something does not make it fact. I cannot see how the signage portrays either a "right-wing" or "Zionist" viewpoint (especially considering that Zionism is an explicitly Socialist philosophy). The ad is ham-fisted, that's for sure, but it does not portray the purported "right-wing Zionist" viewpoint the author of this article claims.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jan. 27, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

Oh I can just imagine the outrage if there were an ad that said "stop jewish terrorism" with a picture of an IDF soldier killing palestinians, or an israeli rocket demolishing a school in Gaza.

The zionists would have had a fit and called bart a bunch of nazis

Posted by Guest on Jan. 27, 2011 @ 10:17 pm

and don't forget anti-semites.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 28, 2011 @ 9:16 am

This ad is so blatantly racist that I didn't understand how BART could have accepted it in the first place. The "Middle East Conflict" is not about "Palestinian Terrorism." The "Conflict" is about the theft of land, the attempted destruction of a culture, and the continued humiliation, brutalization and murder of hundreds of thousands of the native inhabitants of Palestine -- those whom we call Palestinians -- by the Zionist enterprise. This enterprise has been active, in one form or another, for more than 100 years, and its power comes today from the more than $15 million per day it receives from the United States.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 27, 2011 @ 10:59 pm

I am so glad they came down.... they made me feel sad to the point of illness. They were an exercise in provocative demonization of a people living under a long and grinding occupation.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 27, 2011 @ 11:31 pm

"The keffiyeh has evolved into a symbol of Palestinian resistance to occupation after former PLO leader Yasser Arafat began regularly wearing one."

"She said the ad made her feel “sick to her stomach.” The keffiyeh is a common cultural and political item of clothing, she said, and she happened to be wearing one on her backpack when she noticed the ad. “I hate that [the keffiyeh] is being targeted, portrayed as what terrorists wear.” "

I suppose there are reasons to complain about the ad.

Maybe this is just a poor association by the author, but Yasser Arafat was a terrorist.

Posted by matlock on Jan. 28, 2011 @ 1:35 am

So was Menachem Begin. Nu?

Posted by Guest Jack Fertig on Jan. 28, 2011 @ 5:34 pm

was he mentioned in the "article?"

Posted by matlock on Jan. 29, 2011 @ 11:28 am

Censorship does have its place in society. Europe has banned hate speech and refuses to allow entry to anyone who has spouted bigoted nonsense. The people of Rwanda also know the power of the spoken word, having experienced the fanatic media that they did prior to the genocide there. And we here in the States ought to know better, too, seeing a definite upsurge in political violence directly coincidental with increasingly violent political rhetoric.

There is indeed a time and a place to restrict what others say.

Posted by PinkMulsimah on Jan. 28, 2011 @ 3:39 am

define it.

Posted by matlock on Jan. 28, 2011 @ 12:02 pm

One can disparage an ideology without disparaging an ethnic group.

Here is an example.

Zionism presumes that the national or historic rights of Jews to Palestine are superior to the human rights of the native population.

It is hard to be more racist and contrary to American values.

Zionists are un-American.

The US Israel alliance betrays American ideals.

Fight Zionism today!

Posted by Joachim Martillo on Jan. 28, 2011 @ 6:38 am


Posted by Guest on Jan. 29, 2011 @ 7:00 pm

Zuionism is the belief that the Jewish people have the right to self-determination in their ancient homeland.
Judea Pearl maintains:

Is anti-Zionism hate?
Yes. It is more dangerous than anti-Semitism, threatening lives and peace in the Middle East.
Anti-Zionism rejects the very notion that Jews are a nation -- a collective bonded by a common history -- and, accordingly, denies Jews the right to self-determination in their historical birthplace. It seeks the dismantling of the Jewish nation-state: Israel.

Anti-Zionism earns its discriminatory character by denying the Jewish people what it grants to other historically bonded collectives (e.g. French, Spanish, Palestinians), namely, the right to nationhood, self-determination and legitimate coexistence with other indigenous claimants.

Anti-Semitism rejects Jews as equal members of the human race; anti-Zionism rejects Israel as an equal member in the family of nations.

Posted by GuestDusty on Jan. 29, 2011 @ 7:30 pm

Nonsense Dusty,

If any other ethnic group were to claim they had a right to found an entire nation on a constitution based in their religion, and favoring people of that religion in rights and privileges over others living in that land, they would be rightly condemned for such fundamental, anti-human rights hubris.

And yet you ask us with a straight face to accept this from Zionist Jews?

Give me a break.

We rightly condemn fundamentalist Muslims when they attempt to found nations and law based on -their- religion.

So too should we condemn the outrageous religious fundamentalism and exclusionism of the Zionist Israeli state.

And the idea that people should be allowed to take up (in fact steal) huge amounts of land from others and set up their own nation there, just because some of their ancestors may have lived there thousands of years ago, is frankly laughable.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Jan. 29, 2011 @ 8:05 pm

Actually, while it is PC to declare that Jews and Judaism are a religion and nothing more, one just has to look at the name to understand that the term "Jew" is a geographical term - a Jew is someone who can trace their ancestry to Judea. Contrast that with Christianity and Islam both of which do not have ties to a place but rather a concept.

The Declaration of Independence specifically states that all citizens are to be treated equally regardless of religion. Israel is not perfect in that sphere (or in lots of other spheres) however, neither is the US, most Western European states not to mention every single one of Israel's neighbors. There are active debates in Israel by the same people you condemn to try and make things better. So, yes, things are not perfect, but the vast majority do care and want to improve everyones' lives.

Would that Israel be in a neighborhood where the people who surround them just want to have normal, neighborly relations. However that has not been the lot of the country from well before the creation of the state. Lets see how others would behave regarding the human rights of a population that for nearly 100 years have been trying to eradicate their presence.

And regarding your final point, when other nations have left their original surroundings, they have blended in (or conquered) the host nation. And while the Jews were banished from their land, they never gave up their claim nor hope of returning to speak nothing of assimilating to the local culture. For the majority of the exile, Jews prayed three times a day to return. Compare that with the UN which defines a "Palestinian Refugee" as someone who came to the area from 1945. So three years of living in a place (which most moved to because of the economic opportunities afforded by the Jewish revival of the land) was enough to grant them this status.

I don't remember who made this quote, but it is elegant and apropos to this article. "If the Arabs would lay down their arms, there would be no more war. If the Jews laid down their arms, there would be no more Israel".

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2011 @ 6:52 am

Again, total, ludicrous nonsense.

Most Jewish people can trace their roots back no further than Eastern Europe, and anyone who actually analyzes the Palestine conflict will discover that the United Nations has repeatedly and nearly unanimously voted to formally recognize, for decades, that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands is in total, violent and blatant defiance of international law, and has directed Israel to comply with that law (which Israel has outrageously completely refused to do). Hence, if Israel would simply stop breaking the law and withdraw from Palestinian territory, the conflict would end.

Again, all one needs to do to learn these realities is to dig in to the web site, and read the works of, -the- preeminent Jewish scholar on the conflict, Norman Finkelstein. See

Posted by Eric Brooks on Jan. 30, 2011 @ 2:03 pm

Check out this article in the Observer (UK) about Peter Kosminsky's forthcoming documentary on BBC about Britain's experience with Zionist terrorism in Palestine during the Mandate era:


On the other side stood the Irgun, as ruthless as any 21st-century terrorist organisation. When the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, which served as the British Mandatory authorities' headquarters, was bombed in July 1946, 91 people died, many of them civilians. "They were extremely effective. You only have to compare the attack on the King David to something like the Brighton Bomb [in which the IRA killed five people] to see that..."

Posted by Guest on Jan. 28, 2011 @ 7:08 am

This article is great.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 28, 2011 @ 7:38 am

Thank you for publishing this article. It seems to me that we need to know what the problem is before we can solve it. Oppression of Palestinians, the occupation of Palestinians by the Israeli government for decades is the root of the ongoing conflict in Israel/Palestine. Billions of our taxpayer dollars given to Israel over the years has compounded the problem. Stopping our funding of that Israeli military occupation of the Palestinians will certainly be a move in the right direction--the end of the conflict and peace built on justice for both peoples.

Posted by Therese Mughannam on Jan. 28, 2011 @ 8:43 am

We have commenters screeching that we need to start restricting free speech (like Hamas does in Gaza), other commenters screeching about Jews and Zionism being "unAmerican" (like Michelle Bachman likes to complain about progressives) and others preaching that the Middle East conflict is not what you think it's about but what THEY think it's about.

You should always start off with the premise than anyone that tells you THEY know exactly what the conflict in the Middle East is about doesn't know what the hell they're talking about. It's not about Israel and it's not about Palestine. It's not about "land theft" and it's not about "water rights." It's about a lot of things, but mainly it's about two states which don't want to make the hard choices to bring peace to their people.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jan. 28, 2011 @ 9:45 am

I am a zionist, and have only one question: what the fuck is wrong with the government of Israel, why do they refuse peace? And no, i'm not on any listserv, and am no kind of activist on this issue, but I do think we should recognize Palestine now.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 28, 2011 @ 1:48 pm

good for you for the blunt question...what the ____k is wrong with them. And, yes they do refuse peace!

Posted by Guest on Jan. 28, 2011 @ 3:32 pm

You're a zionist and you would recognise Palestine....that's a first but...Keep on Rockin' anyways! Untill they stop bulldozers, F16's, tanks, etc etc etc it'll never happen...

Posted by Guest on Jan. 29, 2011 @ 6:59 pm

Thanks to the SFBG for publishing this article, and thanks to the BART system for listening to the voices of the community. There is too often a double standard when talking about politics in Israel in Palestine, in which anything remotely in favor of justice for Palestinians is branded "anti-Israel," and more falsely, "anti-semitic." These ads are offensive and misleading and deserve to have been removed.

Moreover, Stand With us is nothing short of a hate group that consistently uses physically-aggressive and racially-charged tactics to unsuccessfully make its point.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 28, 2011 @ 2:19 pm

Your comparison fails miserably.

I wonder if you notice the cognitive dissonance of calling those who sponsor an ad which you claim besmirches an entire ethnic group "a hate group", while ascribing the same tactics to them which they ascribe to Palestinians.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jan. 28, 2011 @ 2:50 pm

I love keffiyehs, have a collection of them, and actually when the weather is inclement it is often drawn up to cover the face. It's a wonderfully versatile garment and offers facial protection against cold and rain as well as against desert sun and dust.

Of course the ad is offensive, ugly, and racist. I'm glad to see it gone.

If Israel and her supporters really want to see Palestinian children playing soccer, they should stop bombing the soccer pitches.

Posted by Guest Jack Fertig on Jan. 28, 2011 @ 6:09 pm

Thank you SFBG for covering this issue! BART made the right decision by taking down the Anti-Palestinian ad. Throughout the media, Palestinians and Arabs are overwhelmingly demonized by a well oiled, well funded machine of Zionist propagandists. Palestinians are victims of over 60 years of illegal occupation, land theft, torture, home demolitions, preventing Palestinians to return home and so on. Contrary to popular belief, prior to the creation of Israel in 1948, Palestine was a country that had Jews, Christians and Muslims living together in relative peace. Israel's policy creates a segregated "Jews-ONLY" state, which similar to a "Whites-ONLY" policy. Pres. Jimmy Carter and many people and organizations have called out Israel as an Apartheid state. Let's return to a one-state between Israel/Palestine with equal rights and freedom of religion! Don't be surprised that these comments will be attacked by the very same racist, bigoted, Zionist, full of hate people who support the ad, and the entity who put it up!
Be on the side of Peace, Justice and Freedom for all.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 28, 2011 @ 7:25 pm

Not agreeing with you is hate filled.

Posted by matlock on Jan. 29, 2011 @ 1:46 pm

There is something very sad about "saying yes to peace" as an offensive concept. The ACLU is involved in a censorship case in Seattle- I wopuld strongly recommend that Stand With Us contact them about this inappropriate censorship.
We should all be saying "yes to peace"

Posted by GuestFatima on Jan. 29, 2011 @ 3:43 pm

East Jerusalem is at the heart of the problem to sign peace. Palestinian Arabs demand that E. Jerusalem gets incorporated into the new Arab country. But E. Jerusalem includes all of the Historic Jerusalem including the Jewish most holy places including the Western Wall.
Until year 1948 all of this Historic Jerusalem had an absolute Jewish majority. In 1948 Arab armies captured all of the Historic Jerusalem and ethnically cleansed it of all Jews. Arabs have moved in. Today calling these Arabs natives is beyond obscene. Palestinian Arabs are the occupiers in East Jerusalem.
Without fairly solving the problem of Jerusalem, one can not count on achieving peace.
It is a fact that till 20th century there were very few Arabs living in Palestine (very few Jews too). Historically these lands were always Jewish. In 20th century hundreds of thousands of Arabs have moved in. They certainly are not native peoples. Around year 1970 Arabs living there started calling themselves Palestinians to strengthen their claim to the land of Palestine. Before 1970 they have never called themselves Palestinians. Back then Jews from Europe when referring to Jews in Palestine called them Palestinians.
Let us all get the facts straight before posting nonsense about native Arabs (Palestinians) displaced by the Jews.

Posted by Daniel on Jan. 29, 2011 @ 4:10 pm

@Daniel - Where to you get this Hogwash? Palestine has a centuries long history of majority Arab residency.

Get the facts at

Posted by Eric Brooks on Jan. 30, 2011 @ 5:13 am

Just go to the If americans knew home page and see why the palestinians are what they are. Have you ever READ the protocols of the elder’s of Zion?? It’s happening today, ever since the end of the cold war when the US didn’t have anybody else to spend their money for the arms they buy from the contractors, they got a perpetual war ”the war on terror” there’s more people that die from smoking than terror but Ohh boy there’s money for them and money for Israel. The G** Damned country’s rich but the US still sends them money..WHY?? And there are quotes from BIBI and that fat **** Ariel Sharon who made this statement and I quote:
“Every time we do something you tell me America will do this and will do that… I want to tell you something very clear: Don’t worry about American pressure on Israel. We, the Jewish people, control America, and the Americans know it.”
Ariel Sharon, October 3, 2001, to Shimon Peres, as reported on Kol Yisrael radio. Now tell me something…is he right??? YES!! and that’s the problem, The khazar jews who are not semitic, are warmongers and were thrown out of practicaly every country in Europe because of their theiving and deceiving. Now that they’re in Palestine they know they can get away with all the **** they’re doing to the palestinians

Posted by Guest on Jan. 29, 2011 @ 6:53 pm

You do know that the protocols was written by the Tzarist secret police on the 1890s?

Posted by matlock on Jan. 29, 2011 @ 8:27 pm

Wow, so to "Say Yes to Peace" is anti-Palestinian? What exactly is pro-Palestinian? "Keep up bombing buses, day care centres and homes until you get everything you want?" Sounds like someone has to go back to Kindergarten.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2011 @ 6:59 am

As a proud gay man who fights for gay and womens rights, I assure you, the Palestians are not the good guys

Posted by Guest GAY ADVENGER on Jan. 30, 2011 @ 12:19 pm

Actually the Palestinians are the original Jews who later converted to christianity and Islam and are the native peope of Palestine, so all these arguments over "the Jews trace back to Judea" are all ridiculous. Most Israeli "Jews" are athiests and anti-semitic white-supremacist Ashkenazis whose origin is not Judea at all. The Ashkenazis are so racist they experimented (in a continuation of the Nazi eugenics experiments) on 100 thousand Sephardic Jewish children by irradiating their brains (google the ringworm children), they also regard Arab Jews are inferior and deny then jobs (check out Naeim Giladi on Youtube video interview), Zionists in Israel also beat up Orthodox Jews, Jews connected to the ADL also recruit for "alqaida" see these two examples (there are many more examples) Israel is just a terrorist base for attacking the rest of the world.

Posted by Sal on Jan. 30, 2011 @ 3:22 pm

Ok, this thread is starting to veer extremely off-topic. Shutting off comments for now.

Posted by marke on Jan. 30, 2011 @ 4:39 pm

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