BART riders can’t escape the Palestine issue

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 Stop Israeli apartheidThe ad above greeted commuters passing through several major Bay Area Rapid Transit stations in San Francisco and the East Bay this week. At other stations travelers could feast their eyes on this one:

The ads – professionally printed, but posted without BART authorization – were the latest twist in a battle that began last December, when several Bay Area groups, following the example set by the Chicago-area Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine, paid for ads on BART platforms calling for an end to U.S. military aid to Israel.

In response, Stand With Us, an organization of zealous advocates for Israel, paid to post ads headlined “Stop Palestinian Terrorism,” featuring a character whose face – except the shifty eyes – was wrapped in a red-and-white keffiyya. When Arab-Americans and other Bay Area residents complained that those ads amounted to racial stereotyping and hate speech, BART management ordered them removed, but Stand With Us came back this month with a new ad, free of the offensive graphic but reading “Stop Palestinian Leadership from Teaching Hate & Violence.” You can see all these posters, plus critical commentary, here.

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