CBS pulls down billboards calling for end to US aid to Israel

Melrose Walnut r Melrose after 10in
Stop30Billion billboard on Melrose Avenue — before and after

Two weeks back we reported on 23 billboards being put up in the Los Angeles area calling for an end to aid to Israel. The ads have been torn down by the billboard operator, CBS Outdoor, which is part of CBS, the media giant. The Stop $30 Billion organization sent out this email:

On June 11 the Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel had 23 billboards erected in Los Angeles and surrounding cities with the message “Tell Congress: Spend our Money at Home, Not on the Israeli Military” over an American flag background. The billboards were contracted to run for four weeks, and we were preparing to put more up in other spots around the city. We were thrilled. L.A. had never seen a campaign of this size devoted to this issue. That win fell apart just one week later when the billboard company–CBS Outdoor, a subsidiary of CBS Corporation– took all our billboards down.

They sent a curt email telling us they were canceling our contract and refunding our money because “your organization has used the ‘CBS Outdoor’ name without permission” in email messages and in our petition thanking CBS for putting up the billboards in the first place. Needless to say, this was a punch in the stomach.

If you support us trying to get our message of ending military aid to Israel back up on billboards in the nation’s second largest city, won’t you help flood CBS with phone calls demanding that our billboards be put back up and our contract be honored to the full term?

If there are people and organizations that disagree with our message, they have every right to buy their own billboards with a message they compose. We stand ready to debate American carteblanche support for Israel in the free marketplace of ideas. But that debate can only take place if companies like CBS Outdoor don’t cave when pressured by people who claim any criticism of U.S. policy favoring Israel is anti-Semitic.

Call CBS Corporation, the New York-based parent company of CBS Outdoor, at (212) 975- 4321 right now. Then tell us you made the call and what if any response you got from CBS. Email us at [email protected]

Then be sure to share this Call to Action with your friends, family and colleagues via email, Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks for working for justice!

Jeff, Armen and Sue

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine, Media, US Policy in the Middle East, US Politics

{ 28 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Denis says:

    Without having read your contract w/ CBS I can only offer a speculation, but you may have a legal action to force performance of the contract. It’s pretty rare when one side can just unilaterally “cancel” a contract and say “I don’t want to play anymore.”

    Looks like you’ve also got special damages due.

    • lysias says:

      In some cases, won’t courts grant specific performance (i.e., carrying out the action agreed to in the contract) if the other party won’t agree to special damages? (If the contract specifically provides for so-called “liquidated damages” in the event of nonperformance, I don’t think courts grant specific performance. It’s been a long time since I studied contract law.)

    • jimbowski says:

      I would bet CBS has a clause in the contract that allows them to dismantle any billboard for any reason and refund the money paid. CBS has far greater bargaining power than the rest of us suckers and its lawyers likely added the “escape” clause in its billboard contracts.

  2. Kathleen says:

    If they used CBS name in email’s etc seems like they were pushing it. But is that grounds for breaking a contract? I have no idea. Such a shame because that is quite a campaign

  3. Kathleen says:

    I am on a computer in a nursing home. Can not get to Matthew’s Circumcision thread because it is blocked I guess because of the word circumcision, genital or mutilation. Can not even read the comments right now. Not sure whether his topic fits the Mondoweiss agenda or not (clearly for Adam, Phil and team to decide) but for me sounds like he is solidly focused on a human/child rights issue. Makes sense to me. Not sure how his focus could ever be spun as “anti semitic” absurd. Really appreciate how he asked whether we would be getting upset if this was happening to girls in the U.S. would be responding differently? Will be great when I can read MJ’s responses to questions etc. Human/child rights, this site is focused on Israeli Palestinian, Iran, I lobby, Jewish culture, religion etc. Seems like a good place to bring up this issue that many of us do not think about much. Always wondered what I would do if I had had boys. And then the pressure of a religious ceremony. Ouch. Why is it so many people say it does not hurt the baby boy? Let them make this decision as an adult. I thought the original reason for this was health issues. Lack of water, cleanliness etc.

    • seafoid says:

      Keep it up Kathleen. I love the image of you processing the information in your parent’s nursing home. The thinking never stops. I was talking to a South African today about the end of apartheid. He said it all happened very suddenly and people were shocked but apart from a few diehards most people adjusted and carried on under the new system. It will be the same with Israel. They’ll have to reform a lot of that religious outlook but they’ll do what they have to.

  4. Les says:

    Golly, gee! CBS admits its part of the Israel Lobby/Fifth Column.

  5. talknic says:

    CBS won’t give a toss. They’ve likely been paid more than the contract and probably been assured their legal costs will be covered.

  6. AllenBee says:

    lately, when I’m stuck in traffic and within sight of a bridge or hillside or some other place highly visible where lots of eyes roll by, I imagine homemade banners, “Tell Congress: Stop Spending $30 billion on Israel” or a similar message — they’d have to be short, simple & pack a wallop, because they wouldn’t last long, and a lot of them would have to be made to appear all over the place, and again and again.

    Remember the old Burma-Shave signs? For you youngsters — they were a series of roadside signs, about 36″ wide, 15″ tall, set on a 4′ tall post –about driver’s eye-level — along the roadside. Each sign had part of a whole statement; the set that I remember said:

    [sign 1] Baby your skin
    500′
    [sign 2] Keep it fitter
    500′
    [sign 3] Or baby will have
    500′
    [sign 4] A brand new sitter.
    500′
    [sign 5] Burma-Shave

    Living room activists could put together a collection of signs and blanket their local roads with the message that the US love affair with Israel is wearing thin — i.e. after a clever quatrain, [sign 5] would read: “Divest Israel”. Phil could have a contest for quatrains.

    Citizen activism + a little creativity + lots of small groups of like minded people all over the US can move this rubber tree plant.

  7. radii says:

    the absolute win was getting this past the layers of zionist censors in the first place – the fact that they EVER went up at all is an amazing victory – drip drip drip zionists, history is holding a place for you on the bench of failed ideologies – keeping it nice and warm

  8. It was a victory to have one full week of billboards saying to spend our money at home, not on the Israeli military.

    But the American flag (on that billboard) means only death to 24 million Iraqis, to over 20 million Afghans, and to countless other victims of Americanism around the world.

    Next time just say what you mean — unless you really mean to snap to attention whenever the U.S. military calls you to another adventure in genocide.

    • libra says:

      Faint praise and an anti-Zionist pseudonym can’t disguise this “We all suck” hasbara.

      • You should say what you mean. If you mean “Boycott Israel” — say it. I do.

        If you mean to say God Bless America, as it shreds the Middle East — well, I guess the billboard flag did say that, didn’t it?

        Yuck.

        • ColinWright says:

          I disagree. I happen to think Israel should be dismantled entirely. If I’m trying to sway somebody, I don’t lead off with that. I lead off with something I think they will relate to — like pointing out just how much of their money is going to Israel, or how Israel actually kills far more Palestinians than Palestinians kill Israelis, or whatever.

          This isn’t hypocrisy. It’s just finding common ground. If I want to borrow your car to go to the beach, and I point out that I could pick you up some of that great goat cheese you liked so much on my way back, is that hypocrisy?

    • ColinWright says:

      “…But the American flag (on that billboard) means only death to 24 million Iraqis, to over 20 million Afghans, and to countless other victims of Americanism around the world.

      Next time just say what you mean — unless you really mean to snap to attention whenever the U.S. military calls you to another adventure in genocide.”

      Leaving aside the sweeping extremism of your statement — which I don’t agree with — what you advocate is just bad tactics.

      If you concoct slogans that will merely alienate 95% of the people who see them, you might as well just put up pro-Israel messages yourself. That’s effectively what you’ll be doing anyway.

      …and ‘another adventure in genocide’ irritates me. Outside of various episodes in sub-Saharan Africa, it’s been nearly seventy years since anyone actually attempted genocide, it wasn’t us, and the attempt failed anyway. ‘Genocide’ is possibly the most abused word in the English language. Try accurately describing what you mean if you want anyone to take you seriously — and try to realize that the whole point of propaganda is to win hearts and minds, not just to annoy as many people as possible. That billboard was spot-on, and if someone wants to try to put together something similar up here (the San Francisco Bay Area) I’m up for it.

  9. American says:

    You’d waste a lot of time and money going after CBS.
    Find some individual land owners who are sympathic to the cause, they are bound to be some, get a lease that says even if the land sold the the lease has to be honored and put up your own billboards…will take some money but so does everything.
    Also put them in the yards of people who will agree…..people notice even more signs in their neighborhoods.

    • Unfortunately, HOA restrictions prevent putting any signs in my backyard.
      Damn, that was so promising! Really sorry to see it torn down.
      But, take heart. We are eroding the rock, one drop of water at a time.

    • ColinWright says:

      Yeah. Up in Washington State there’s obviously some guy who owns his own sign. It’s got this Uncle Sam figure and a changing display of various far-right sentiments on it.

      Only real restriction is I think most of these billboards are grandfathered in. Laws were passed in the Sixties preventing people from putting up any more — at least along highways. However, there are also sign trucks…

      You get a running medium duty truck that is fairly ‘clean.’ Figure $15,000 if you don’t want mechanical hassles. Then you letter it. Anywhere from a few hundred bucks to a few thousand, depending on how elaborate you want to get. I’d go with something generic (like an American flag) for your main image and then just periodically change the lettering. Insurance and registration, fuel, parking…figure another $5000 a year. You park the thing wherever you legally can for 72 hours and where it can be seen.

      For a bonus, read up on citizens’ arrest, stake out the truck, and bust anyone who tries to vandalize it. Alternatively, just find someone who is willing to let you pay to letter his truck. This also happens. Of course, it’ll have to be someone who either (a) agrees with you, or (b) uses his truck in some way where he is indifferent to anyone’s reaction.

  10. What good is contacting CBS going to do? CBS is privately held by Sumner Redstone. Sumner Redstone was known to his mother as Murray Rothstein. Both of these facts are known to every manager at every level of the coporation. They don’t even have to be told what to do when situations like this arise. It’s all automatic.

    • Truthbug says:

      You hit the nail on the head, PTJ. Check out link to en.wikipedia.org

      • ColinWright says:

        Did I miss something? How do you figure Murray Rothstein is an Israel supporter?

        Here’s the passage from the Wikipedia article on his philanthropic giving:

        “…In April 2007, Sumner M. Redstone announced a commitment of $105 million in charitable grants to fund research and patient care advancements in cancer and burn recovery at three major non-profit healthcare organizations. The cash contributions of $35 million each will be paid out over five years to FasterCures/The Center for Accelerating Medical Solutions, based in Washington D.C.; the Cedars-Sinai Prostate Cancer Center in Los Angeles, California; and the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.[39]

        He recently contributed $500,000 (the largest donation the charity could accept) to the Cambodian Children’s Fund, a nonprofit program that provides a wide range of critical health and educational services to impoverished and abused children in the capital city of Phnom Penh.[40] Redstone’s contribution will be used to create the Sumner M. Redstone Child Rescue Center, a stand-alone facility scheduled to open during the fall of 2007 for children 5 to 16.[41]

        In early 2010, Autism Speaks announced that Sumner Redstone made a $1 million donation to be applied to scientific research into autism’s causes, improved treatments, and, ultimately, its cures. Part of the gift will support Autism Speaks’ programs for children, adults, and families. While Redstone has supported Autism Speaks since 2007, this is his largest gift to date.

        In July 2010, Redstone donated $24 million to the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California to support cancer research…”

        Israel is pretty conspicuously absent.

        Heck, Rothstein might have known about the signs and left them up for as long as he figured he could without losing money. Maybe go lobby him personally. He might get enthusiastic…

        Then again, he might not. However, I do not see any reason to assume he’s an Israel supporter. To go by the above, he’s given away over $130 million — and not one dime of it has gone to Israel. Considering he’s Jewish, the statement is pretty emphatic.

        • Truthbug says:

          I think most Jews support Israel, at least in a passive way. Many Jews will say that they don’t really feel connected to Israel, and that’s in a way true, but when push comes to shove, their allegiance to the Tribe will dominate their actions, when for instance, they see Israel damaged or threatened. Proof of this it the power of the Jewish Lobby, which would not be possible if the bulk of the US Jewish community did not, in a fundamental sense, support Israel. The Jewish Lobby is massive, extending from AIPAC down to local Jewish community groups, who, in the end will support the Jewish state, especially when pressured by the more aggressive Israel supporters. Thus, the billboard may have looked to Redstone as an undue threat to Israel – something that he, personally, could stop – and he may have been influenced by other Jews, who are more actively supportive of Israel. I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I can’t say that you’re right, either.

  11. NickJOCW says:

    Perhaps they could put a copy of the contract on their site so a variety of people can study it? Someone may come up with something. I tried to send them an email myself but for some reason it doesn’t get delivered. If there is a sympathetic law shcool anywhere, the students might like the challenge. Whatever route they take it should be possible to get some mileage from it. If they could take CBS to court it scarcely matters whether they win of lose. David and whatshisname.

  12. just realized i never commented on this thread. this is a fantastic coalition. thank you so much for all you are doing.

  13. ColinWright says:

    “…They sent a curt email telling us they were canceling our contract and refunding our money because “your organization has used the ‘CBS Outdoor’ name without permission” in email messages and in our petition thanking CBS for putting up the billboards in the first place…”

    It probably was a mistake to praise CBS Outdoor like that. It might have occurred to the organization that CBS Outdoor might not have actually wanted to be identified as opposing Israel.

    Had they kept quiet about that angle (who owned the billboards) the signs might have stayed up for another week. First, it would have taken the Hasbara brigade that much longer to think of it, and second, CBS could have responded with ‘what’s this?’ ‘Hmm…we’ll have to look into it.’ ‘Yeah, well there is a contract. Our legal department is looking at whether we can break it. They said they’d be back to us Tuesday.’

    Between one thing and another, it might have taken that much longer for the heat to build. ‘Stop $30 Billion’ unintentionally forced CBS’s hand. They ran around saying, ‘this fine corporation opposes Israel too.’ That forced CBS to say, ‘we certainly do not! See — we tore down all the signs. Now quit talking about how you’re going to cancel that beer ad contract.’

    I don’t particularly blame ‘Stop’ for the lapse — but essentially it was a failure to see how others might view the situation. CBS just wants to sell billboard space. They don’t want to get into firefights.