Denver billboards lead to– hold on to your hat– spirited debate!

ActivismIsrael/PalestineUS Politics
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The Stop $30 Billion Campaign put 10 billboards up in Denver for four weeks last month, and 10 new ones for four weeks this month. They are due to come down this week. This follows the 48-foot-wide flag billboard on I-40 in New Mexico, which ran for six months in the latter half of 2011.

There was some concern the opposition would pressure the billboard companies to remove the Denver billboards due to the nature of the campaign, but that didn’t materialize. Instead, in both New Mexico and Colorado an opposing campaign lead by Christians United For Israel (CUFI) in conjunction with StandWithUs opted to put up counter signs instead.

Hence Dueling billboards hit Denver! And news coverage to go with them:

7NewsDenver:  Voters Targeted With Billboards In Battle Over Israel

DENVER — Israel just turned 64-years old, and the debate over American support is more heated than ever.

That debate is now visible on the streets of Denver, where competing billboards are targeting motorists and pedestrians.

Opponents of American support have purchased a billboard ad along Colfax Avenue near Monroe Street, one block west of National Jewish Hospital. It says, “Tell Congress: Spend Our Money At Home, Not on the Israeli Military.”

That billboard is countered by one at 6th Avenue and Lincoln Street that says, “Baby Israela Delivered By Israeli Medics In Haiti. Israel saves lives.”

The Colfax ad was purchased by a group called Co-founder Susan Schuuman told 7NEWS that the U.S. spends $3 billion a year supporting Israel.

“That makes us complicit in what we feel are war crimes in Gaza,” Schuurman said. “Where children have been killed with weapons the U.S. provided.”

The Baby Israela ad was purchased by a group called StandWithUs. That group said it was formed to counter misinformation about Israel and to fight anti-Semitism.

“Both perspectives are legitimate in terms of trying to influence the discourse here in the United States,” said Dr. Shaul Gabbay, former director of the University of Denver’s Institute for the Study of Israel in the Middle East, and now Chairman of the StandWithUs Denver chapter.


He said the billboards are leading to debate and that debating the issue is good. He likens it to a spirited dinner table conversation.

Not everyone responded positively. Some of the “Stand with Israel”  billboards were vandalized. The Stop 30 Billion Campaign responded vigorously(pdf) by condemning the action.


Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Billboard in Deming Vandalized; Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel Upholds Opponents’ Free Speech Rights, Condemns Vandalism While Disagreeing with Message

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.– The Albuquerque-based Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel condemns the recent vandalism of a Christians United For Israel (CUFI) billboard in Deming, New Mexico.

In our struggle to protect America’s national interests from lobbying groups such as CUFI, who support Israel’s daily violations of international humanitarian law, we too erected billboards. While our Albuquerque billboards were never vandalized, they were taken down after supporters of CUFI’s positions pressured the billboard company to deny our group its constitutional right to free speech.

We consider the positions taken by CUFI to be harmful to both Israelis and Palestinians and a threat to peace. The difference between the Coalition to Stop $30 Billion and CUFI is that the Coalition advocates equal rights for all people, not some people, whereas CUFI advocates on behalf of a government that has been criticized by the United Nations and human rights organizations for its relentless decades-long assault on basic human rights. Israel’s violations include theft of land, torture, imprisonment without charge, collective punishment and much more. These practices are illegal under international law and are an affront to the fundamental values of tolerance and compassion that are at the heart of Christianity.

CUFI’s leader, Pastor John Hagee, has said that the Nazis operated on God’s behalf to chase the Jews from Europe and shepherd them to Palestine. He has also alleged that Adolph Hitler was born from a lineage of “accursed, genocidally murderous half-breed Jews” and was tasked by God with expediting His will of having the Jews re-establish a state of Israel. This anti-Semitic slander, which equates Hitler with Moses, should be enough for any group that purports loyalty to Jewish culture and the tenets of Judaism to renounce Hagee and CUFI. Yet, the Jewish Federation, among other groups, sponsored Hagee during his speaking tours around the U.S., which included Albuquerque.

The Coalition believes in freedom of speech, even for groups and individuals whose misguided views are destined to prolong suffering and conflict. Whatever the attitude of those who vandalized the CUFI billboard, we denounce their criminal behavior.

I never anticipated agreeing with anything a chairman of StandwithUs might have to say, but I think debating the issue is good too. There’s nothing I would like better than spirited dinner table conversation all over this country.

Hats off to the amazing Coalition to Stop 30 billion to Israel which has worked tirelessly to call attention to the plight of Palestinians and direct the American public to do something about it. If you would like the campaign to assist in plastering your town with billboards so as to have a healthy democratic debate in your neighborhood, this is how you can find the coalition!

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