On Jan. 27, a group of Israeli settlers opened fire on the West Bank village of Beit Ommar. Yousef Fakhri Ikhlayl, 17-years-old, was shot in the head while standing in his family's vineyard.
Two days later, Israeli “security” forces opened fire on Ikhlayl’s funeral procession—first with sound grenades and teargas canisters and then with rubber bullets and live ammunition.
Less than two weeks earlier and nearly 7,500 miles away, a group called “Stand With Us” launched an ad campaign in six San Francisco Bay Area BART stations. This was in response to ads placed in three of those BART stations by the group Jewish Voice for Peace demanding an end to the military funding of Israel.
The Stand With Us ad read, “Stop Palestinian Terrorism,” between a photo of bloodshot Palestinian eyes framed by a red-and-white keffiyeh and young boys in soccer uniforms running through a green field laughing. The bottom line read, “Teach Peace.”
After receiving complaints about the racist nature of the ads, BART officials removed them and they were replaced with slightly less racist ads. The new ads have a bright yellow background and in bold, black font proclaim, “Stop Palestinian Leadership from Teaching Hate and Violence.”
Par for the course for Zionist propaganda, this factually misleading sentiment, with blatant disregard for history and the current struggles facing the Palestinian people, is built on a foundation of utter hypocrisy.
Members of Stand With Us in San Francisco joined SF Voice for Israel to counter a peace vigil on June 6, 2010—the commemoration of Al Nakba (the Catastrophe of 1948, the brutal expulsion of the Palestinian people following the creation of Israel). A video shows the demonstrators, draped in Israeli flags, shouting: “Pigs for Palestine,” “You are all being identified. Every last one of you,” “We will find out where you live,” and other threatening and demeaning comments. No member of Stand With Us intervened to stop the threats.
The threats are not new. Neither is physical violence. A Jewish Voice for Peace member was even pepper-sprayed in a JVP meeting by a member of Stand With Us.
The reactionary ad campaigns are nothing new either. Similar campaigns have been waged in Washington, D.C. and Milwaukee. A struggle is still being fought in King County, Washington. There, the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign had bought and paid for ads targeting Israeli war crimes as “Your tax dollars at work.”
In the face of a pressure campaign from groups like Stand With Us, King County Executive Dow Constantine announced that all non-commercial ads would henceforth not be allowed. The decision may end up costing King County more than it thought, as the ACLU and the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign are now suing on the grounds that this new policy violates freedom of speech.
As Israel continues its offensive with unwavering support from the U.S. government, families in the West Bank are under constant threat of being kicked out of their homes to make room for more settlers. Their homes are being demolished and their olive trees and orchards uprooted. They are being shot, beaten and arrested with no charges, while families in Gaza go without medical or building supplies, clean water and shelter.
Palestinians inside the 1967 borders also face daily harassment, racism and violence.
Pro-Israel lobbyist and campaign groups are nothing more than a mouthpiece for the colonial settler state of Israel, the linchpin of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. There is nothing grassroots or pro-peace about Zionist lobby groups like Stand With Us. Their function is to whitewash the crimes of Israel by portraying the Zionists as victims and the Palestinian victims of Zionist/imperialist aggression as criminals and terrorists.
While the Israeli “security” forces opened fire on Yousef Ikhlayl’s funeral procession, the Stand With Us ads demanded, “Palestinian leadership stop teaching hate and violence.” While Zionists proclaim, “Never Again,” their actions scream, “Never again—after we’re rid of the Palestinians.”