Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Study In Israel Billboards Modified by Guerrilla Advertisers

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Study In Israel Billboards Modified by Guerrilla Advertisers

10 bus shelter billboards advertising the University of California’s
“Study in Israel” campaign were remade into “Boycott Israel” ads and
placed around Berkeley and San Francisco in May.

Under the headline, “Boycott Israel? We boycott Israel because…”, one of
the modified posters depicts students saying, “I believe in speaking out
against racism. Israel’s entrenched system of racial discrimination &
segregation against the Palestinian citizens of Israel is frighteningly
similar to the former apartheid system in South Africa!” and “I believe
that governments must be held accountable for their actions! Israel
denies its responsibility for the waves of ethnic cleansing that have made
millions of Palestinians into refugees.”

The original ad campaign was financed by the pro-Israel publicity agency
BlueStar PR as part of an intensive campaign to promote study in Israel at
California universities. The University of California recently reinstated
its study abroad program at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, after
years of lobbying from pro-Israel students and professionals. The program
was suspended seven years ago based on concerns that the area was too

“It’s ironic that the University of California has decided the area is
less dangerous now than seven years ago, when 1,400 Palestinian civilians
were killed by the Israeli government in Gaza just four months ago,” said
one of the creators of the alternative ad campaign, who prefers to remain
anonymous. “2009 has already been the deadliest year for Palestinians
since the Second Intifada began in September 2000.”

The Study in Israel billboards were carefully designed to appeal to the
U.C. system’s multicultural student body. One featured a group including
several Southeast Asians and another a woman in hijab (traditional Muslim
headcovering), which creators of the alternative campaign consider
extremely insulting.

“It’s outrageous to use images of Muslim women to promote the image of
Israel as a tolerant society, when Palestinians are daily under attack for
being Muslim,” said one of the artists. “During my time in the West Bank,
I saw Israeli soldiers consciously degrade Muslim people by ordering women
to remove their headscarves and men to pull up their shirts.”

The redesigned poster draws attention to Israel’s actions to prevent
Palestinian students from getting an education. In this version, the
women are saying, “I find it shocking that hundreds of Palestinian schools
and kindergartens and at least eight universities have been shelled, shot
at and invaded by the Israeli army, and dozens have been closed down and
converted into barracks since September 2000,” and “I’m really angry that
the so-called ‘separation wall’ isolates and divides Palestinian
population centers, cutting students off from their schools and literally
bulldozing through educational institutions in its path.”

The posters ask members of the University of California community to
pressure U.C. to respect the cultural and academic boycott initiated by
Palestinian civil society in April 2004. The Palestinian Campaign for
Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel calls on the international
academic community to pressure Israel to:

1. End its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and
dismantling the Wall;

2. Recognize the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian
citizens of Israel to full equality; and

3. Respect, protect and promote the rights of Palestinian
refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN
resolution 194.”

The U.S. Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel has been
joined by over 400 academics and cultural workers.

1 comment:

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