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Backer of NY ads exposing Palestinian land-loss says response has been ‘astounding’ and news ‘coverage is pouring in’

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Henry Clifford’s advertisement at the Chappaqua Metro-North train station July 10, 2012.
(Photo: Seth Harrison / The Journal News )

Last night I talked to Henry Clifford, the 83-year-old Connecticut man who paid for the smashing ads on New York commuter train platforms that describe the dispossession of Palestinian lands over the last century.

“I’ve been plowing this field for many years and I am absolutely astounded by the response I’ve received, and the news coverage,” the former financier said. “We’ve been begging for coverage for years. Now it’s pouring in.”

He said he had been interviewed by CBS, Fox News, NBC and many radio stations, and the questions were fair ones.

“I have received nothing but positive responses with two exceptions [by email],” said Clifford, whose email address [email protected], is on the ads. “This has produced an overwhelming response.”

Over the years Clifford and his group Committee for Peace and Palestine have run ads and written countless letters to newspapers with nothing like this impact, he said. It never got covered. Last year he put up billboards in New Haven and Old Saybrook, CT, asking Americans about the $30 billion in aid pledged to Israel over ten years, “Can we afford this?”

“The response was really pitiful,” he said.

The commuter platform ads seem to have struck a nerve, he said, because they are in the heart of New York’s media zone, viewed by movers and shakers, the affluent and the educated.

There have already been threats to take the ads down, he said. A Brooklyn religious Jewish group went to the MTA to demand that the ads be pulled. “To their everlasting credit, they said, These ads were brought to us by CBS Outdoor, a reputable company. They screened them, they approved them. It is not our job to censor them.”

But CBS Outdoor folded on less-provocative billboards put up around Los Angeles a month back, and tore them down. What’s to stop these ads from being ripped down?

“They can’t. I have a contract. The ads are there and have been paid for. I can take legal action if they fail to abide by the contract.”

I said the success of the ads indicates a shift in public opinion. Clifford said he wasn’t sure about that. “I really don’t see that the American people are any better informed than they were a year ago about this matter. There is a great amount of lack of knowledge, misinformation and even lack of interest. They think, ‘Oh it’s a mess over there,’ and then they yawn. We are trying to spread the word.”

Clifford’s Committee for Peace and Palestine has tried to stir a change in US policy for over ten years.

I asked him about the charge that the ads are anti-Semitic.

“My response is that maps are historically and geographically the truth. You cannot make a map anti-Semitic. Either it’s accurate or inaccurate. Those who disapprove of these ads, if they want to show they’re inaccurate, they should bring that proof forward.”

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You know, given my belief that Israel is already consciously into its own One-State solution and will now just be increasing its ethnic cleansing techniques, and given that this will only continue to be recognized more and more and the sort of maps that we’ve now seen here create such an understanding and resonance with people, I wonder if the ultimate effect is going to be quite unlike what lots of people think. For instance… Read more »

The problem with the maps isn’t that they’re antisemitic. It’s that they’re factually false. The earliest looks at property owned by individual Jews, without asking what property was owned by individual Palestinians. The next looks at a line drawn by the United Nations, accepted by the Yishuv but violently rejected by the entire Arab world. The third tells of a limited agreement between nations, defined at the time by the Arab states as temporary. The… Read more »

What a great man. Total admiration for him. Thanks for bringing it to our attention Phil.

>> You cannot make a map anti-Semitic.

Mr. Clifford underestimates the determination of Zio-supremacists. One might almost think he is anti-Semitic… ;-)

This whole thing about maps being anti-Semitic seems to mean as if Israel is a religion and God the whole world must worship, and if you criticize Israel then you are of the damned. This is kind of a dictatorial premise, and it doesn’t work. The more you suppress such things, the more people eventually rebel whether they’re Jews or gentiles. They get super annoyed and plenty of young Jews are not afraid to confront… Read more »