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Henry Clifford’s MTA Billboards are Anti-Semitic and Libelous

July 19, 2012 4:13 pm 11 comments

Middle East map. Photo: Hal Switkay.

The billboards at 50 Metro-North Railroad stations placed by Henry Clifford, that paint Israel, the Jewish State, as an imperialist land grabber are anti-Semitic and libelous. The ad shows four successive maps, which depict shrinking ‘Palestinian land’ (green) which is replaced by ‘Jewish land,’ (white) over the title, “Palestinian Loss of Land 1946 – 2010.”

Regarding the content of the poster, the merits based argument, has been well made by good old Marc Tracy at Tablet Magazine. Some of the images portrayed and their respective labels are utter bunk, and the exclusion of all historical context is deliberately misleading. But Tracy fails to carry his argument forward to its logical conclusion by dismissing my charge of anti-Semitism.

This particular instance of ‘anti-Semitism aversion’ is of course symptomatic of the impact of the wider movement among anti-Israel activists, aimed at legitimizing efforts to hold the Jewish state responsible for all manner of fantastical crimes by effectively disjoining any bigoted connotation from all forms of rabid Israel bashing.

As it is my use of the term anti-Semitism that appears to have engendered a tad of confusion among some writers, whose position on the subject can only best be described as morally meek, I believe it important to explain.

Surely there can be no dispute that the ads themselves provide imagery that is accusatory in nature and defamatory in message and are therefore offensive to the accused. Specifically, the narrative conveyed to the viewer is that the area in the first map labeled as ‘Palestinian land’ has been taken away by Jews/Israelis to the extent shown in the last map. In case the viewer is still unsure who the good/bad guys are here, a message on the right hand side of the ad reads “4.7 Million Palestinians are Classified by the U.N. as Refugees,” assuring us that the Palestinians are indeed victims of Israeli/Jewish expansionism.

The distinction that Tracy and his ilk draw is between, as he puts it, ‘criticizing Israel’, and ‘hating Jews.’ But this point is simply moot in this case, here is why:

  1. The common sense test: most people associate Israel, the Jewish state, with Jews. Although I am British, as a conspicuous Jew, I am often asked by New York taxi drivers if I am from Israel. Statistics have shown that during escalations in Israeli initiatives against terrorism, in certain European countries, attacks on Jews (not Israelis) rise. After the recent tragedy in Toulouse the perpetrator claimed that he was upset about what he referred to as Israel’s “murder” of Palestinian children, so he killed Jewish children, (not Israelis.) So if Israel is wrongfully accused of a crime, it increases negative perceptions of Jews around the world and their risk of being attacked. In fact I would advise those that have any doubt , to don a kippa and other overt Jewish symbols, stand right next to the billboard ads and see if they are subject to any negative interactions or not. There is a visual association that most people will make between what the poster accuses and the Jew.
  1. The definition test: Among the most up to date anti-Semitism definitions, formulated by a body that is by no means known for its love of the Jewish state, is the 2005 ‘European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia Working Definition of Anti-Semitism,’ which should certainly serve as some form of minimum threshold guideline. The document includes the following clause; “manifestations (of anti-Semitism) could also target the state of Israel conceived as a Jewish collectivity.”  It may be one thing to protect criticism of certain Israeli policies, but the story that the advert’s maps tell is that the area labeled as Palestinian in the first map, which includes that vast majority of modern day Israel, has been stolen from the Palestinians. This is not a criticism of specific policies but of the Zionist endeavor, an existential attack on the Jewish state that falls into at least two categories that are specifically mentioned in the EUMC paper, 1. Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and 2. Applying double standards by requiring of it behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
  1. The specific test:  In case any doubt remained, the designers of the ad were very careful to ensure with their wording that a specific distinction between Jews and Israelis could not be drawn. By labeling the white area in the first two maps as ‘Jewish land,’ at the very least, the accused land grab in maps 1 and 2 is being pinned on “Jews”.

So let’s just call a bigot a bigot and focus on stamping out the spread of such hateful messaging once and for all.

The author is the editor of The Algemeiner and director of the GJCF and can be e-mailed


  • the maps themselves are accurate, palestine had that land in 1946, and u can see for yourself what they have now in 2010. any type of fact and straightaway jews jump on the ‘anti-semitic’ bandwagon, i am also british but the media here like the sun, the times (murdoch owned, coincidence?) always bias their arguments against palestine, well done henry clifford!

  • “1. Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and 2. Applying double standards by requiring of it behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”

    1) The citizens of Palestine (Arabs, Jews) were NOT asked in 1948 what should happen with their country. Clearly they were denied the right of self determination and democratic majority rule. Also the proclamation of Israel violated Security Council resolution 46 in 17 April 1948.
    2) Double standard were applied, because no other nations was politically or through war forced to abandon indepence and to partition, simply because seperatists wanted it so.

    I guess that by the logic of the antisemitism accusation the map clearly shows the result of antipalestinian racism.

  • How can an opposing point of view be presented if the media is so biased towards Israeli and the zionist agenda? As far as anti semetic rheotoric, its getting old and offensive to critical thinking people.

  • The purpose of advertising is to promote excitement, not incitement.

    Clearly Clifford’s billboards create incitement.

    The MTA’s advertising guidelines need more specificity.

    You may recall in or about September 2011 there was an anti-Israel advertising campaign and the the MTA refused to pull the ads.

    The more the world changes, the more it stays the same.

    • Jack Bloomberg

      Dear Saidi
      Now that you’ve reviewed earlier failures, what do you suggest as a better and more effective approach?

      • Jack,

        Either an immediate counter-campaign or let it die just like the US liberal media does.

        This was placed exactly during the three weeks when Clifford knew the self-proclaimed important Jewish leaders are away and don’t bother to take care of business in their back yards.


  • Jack Bloomberg

    This type of erudite, rational analysis is, regrettably, read only by Jews and our supporters.
    I would suggest that commentaries and rebuttals must be presented in a style that most readers will understand without becoming confused by rational analysis and fine sentence structure.
    At the risk of sounding elitist, we must appreciate that far too many in our societies do not read well and do not have English as a first language.
    “Preaching to the converted” limits the readership. Tell it like it is. Call a spade a spade. “Keep it simple stupid.”
    Write for results, not applause.

  • When will the world acknowledge Esau, and search out his lineage. (Obadiah 6) The White man, is a cunning hunter who conquers the world red blooded. Esau, is thou in the Bible, art thou, him Esau’s nation of people. *Jeremiah 3:3 Therefore the showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a whore’s forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed. (*Revelation 17:5*) *Jeremiah 4:28 For this shall the earth mourn, and heavens above be black: (*Matthew 24:30 and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn…) At the end of time, the twelve tribes, are the children of Israel are in the new Jerusalem. (*Galatians 4:26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.) *Revelation 21:12 is for the 12 tribes not the 7 churches of the world.

  • Marv Hershenson
  • Marv Hershenson

    David, I am in total agreement with you. I did contact Clifford via email and he clearly lives in a dark place. He reminds me of someone that I met several years ago. This person was a rep for anti-semetic, far right group called the Institute of Historical Review. I really wonder who this man is and determine if he is a front of a more sinister group. The guy is cemented to myths and hyperbole. The agency that leased him space for his toxin should recognize that not all freedom of speech is protected. As former Justice Hand once said and I paraphrase: Yelling a fire in a crowded and close theatre is not freedom of speech. Clifford is more interested in death of Jews. He clearly is anti-semite.

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