Palestinian Lands Ad: Making a Big Impression

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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, 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.”

3 Responses to Palestinian Lands Ad: Making a Big Impression

  1. Editor, MEP 16/07/2012 at 8:22 AM

    Is that really *all* it is about?

    What about the Arab people displaced in the creation of the homes Israeli’s live in?

    What about the Arabic peoples, the roots of whose language is also of the soil Israelis now toil, who live in camps without rights in neighbouring countries?

    Can you really describe Israeli policy as ‘successful’ when it builds on the hate you so beautifully describe?

    We all have our own stories that give day to day living the bearability of legitimacy. But if your stories are contested, which they are, you are only living in denial of a truth that your story is part of one that is far more complicated than you choose to understand.

  2. Abbushuki 16/07/2012 at 7:21 AM

    The maps indicate that the geographical area designated by the British long ago was named Palestine. This map does not indicate that what is now the country of Jordan was also included on maps in the area called Palestine. This was not a country designation, but an area one. The majority of Palestine was given as a gift to a Hashemite sheik in return for friendship to England. It was called the Sheikdom of Trans-Jordan and was located in ‘Palestine’.

    The maps seems to indicate that the area called Palestine and Israel are mutually exclusive. Since the Arabs do not recognize Israel, no Arab map has ever indicated the existence of Israel, let alone that it replaced any territory called Palestine. As far as Arabs are concerned there never was any white on the map and there still is not. So this map contradicts all Arab maps by replacing Palestine with Israel.

    Just as continents are divided into countries, so ‘Palestine’ was designated to have three: Trans-Jordan (The Biblical name for that territory), a Jewish country and another Arab country. The Jewish Country chose its original name, Israel. The Arabs never established a country to this day. Instead they chose to initiate war after war to kill Israel. Each time, they lost. Fortress cities were established by Israel in order to maintain quiet and prevent further attempts at war and annihilation of Jews by Arabs. Since 1973 in particular, this has been very effective. In the interest of peace and security such settlement is the most peaceful and efficient way to maintain quiet and establish a permanent security system in an adjacent hostile territory.

    Today, the area under Arab control is divided into two completely separate political entities: Hamas of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Palestinian Authority, which is more secular, but equally anti-Semitic. They hate each other.

    One requirement of being considered a ‘country’ is an ability to have control inside its borders. The PLO and Hamas cannot reconcile, so Gaza is a completely separate entity.

    Had the Arabs agreed to live in peace with Jews, ‘Palestine’ could be like North America with two countries in one land at peace and harmony. But thanks to the hostile nature of Arab countries, such a relationship, no matter how devoutly desired by Israel, cannot happen.

    It is time to stop beating a dead horse. The only real solution for peace is for Israel to declare that the ‘West Bank’ is their possession and the rules of democracy applied in all possessions of democratic states applies: Self governance, with ultimate control by the owning country and no vote in the possessions for leadership in controlling country. For examples, choose any possession such as Guam, Puerto Rico, the Falklands, etc. and examine how that works very satisfactorily.

    Once Israel is back in control, it must remove the entrenched racist education in schools and media propaganda, eliminate persecution of women and gays, permit a free press and ensure the human rights now denied by every Arab governance.

    Once their people experience true freedom provided by Israel, they can begin to realize the benefits of freedom and peace. That’s the only route to peace.

  3. Abbushuki 15/07/2012 at 9:15 PM

    He is not interested in the legality of the title to claims on land ownership by Arabs. When an Arab holds up a key, it does not indicate if the key was to a room or an apartment or house. It does not indicate if the owner was a renter, owner or squatter. It does not indicate if the key is 100 years old or 10 hours old.

    Even if they show a sale document. Where are the documents of those who sold them the land? What right did they have to sell it?

    We do know that in the year 70 ce the Romans took it all. So how did the property stolen from Jews come to be sold? We have a modern experience: Stolen Holocaust property has never been recovered to this day, but it keeps getting sold and bought.

    Israel has many claims to the land which include: a) It is the location of the source of Hebrew and Aramaic, the Jewish languages; b) It is the location of what was called the Palestinian Talmud; c) It has the graves of renowned Jewish scholars whose works are studied to this day all over the Land. They span the entire period from the Destruction to today; The Jews never did what Jordan did after 1973: It renounced all claims to the West Bank after it had occupied it for 20 years. No the Jews never disclaimed ownership or ceased to seek recovery of its stolen property. This search for 2000 years is called Zionism.

    Zionism is not anti-anyone. It is pro-recovery of Jewish land and the development and inclusion of all who willingly participate. Unfortunately hostile Arab dictators unanimously oppose the existence of a Jewish State in the Middle East.

    And that is what it’s all about.

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