Exciting news. The Coalition to Stop 30 Billion to Israel has put up 23 billboards across Los Angeles in an awareness initiative to stop military aid to Israel. The message:
Tell Congress: Spend Our Money at Home, Not on the Israeli Military
Millions of Americans will be exposed to these billboards every day as commuters in the country’s second largest metropolitan area are stuck in traffic on some of the most congested roads in the world. Stop30Billion Co-founder Armen Chakerian told me the campaign plans to put up additional signs in different spots in LA each month.
This is the largest advertising campaign launched by Stop30Billion thus far. Last spring its successful campaign in Denver, Colorado, garnered lots of attention from citizens and local media.
Stop 30 Billion is a grassroots campaign with humble beginnings, funded by ordinary citizens. They got off to a rocky start when their first billboards were taken down under pressure by Lamar Outdoor Advertising after only three weeks even though they had signed a contract to run the billboards for eight weeks. The billboard company for Stop30Billion’s LA initiative is CBS Outdoor, the outdoor advertising division of media conglomerate CBS Corporation.
Due to the tremendous pressure CBS Outdoor will undoubtedly encounter in the days and weeks ahead, Stop30Billion and its partner the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation have asked us to sign a petition to thank CBS Outdoor.
In a blog post titled “Dodging the ‘Hebrew Hammer’ in the Fight for Justice,” writer Richard Edmondson traces the hurdles in Stop30Billion’s history and interviews Coalition co-founders Susan Schuurman and Armen Chakerian:
Q: Tell us about your new ad campaign and how it differs from previous ones.
A: Our new ad campaign features an American flag. We wanted to emphasize that our message is indeed a patriotic one in that domestic needs are being short-changed by sending billions of dollars per year to support the Israeli war machine. This message seems to be resonating even more during this current economic down-turn. We also feel that more and more Americans want politicians to focus greater attention on infrastructure, education, and healthcare needs at home……After our billboards were taken down prematurely, however, we purposefully tried to find less provocative phrasing that would have a better chance of not being suppressed by opposition pressure.
Q: Your ads seem to have caused considerable consternation within the ranks of pro-Israel groups, but of course the real question is how much of an impact are they having with the public? Do you have any sense of public opinion about the ads and to what degree they may be influencing the way people think about the Middle East?
A: Combined with other communities’ campaigns, we feel that our messaging has created a safer space within which to criticize Israeli policy without being called “anti-Semitic.” In addition to being seen directly by tens of thousands of passers-by, the billboards led to media coverage both in Denver’s local Jewish community newspaper and on Denver channel 7.
Here’s a short ‘n sweet 41 second video filmed in Albuquerque, New Mexico archived by campaign co-founder Susan Schuurman on the first day the billboard campaign was launched by the Coalition to Stop 30 Billion in 2009.