Dueling billboards debate U.S. aid to Israel – Susan Jacobson/Orlando Sentinel

by Newsstand

Dueling billboards — one supporting America’s relationship with Israel, the other decrying it — have popped up this week in east Orange County.

StandWithUs, which favors continued U.S. financial aid to Israel, put up a billboard on University Boulevard east of Forsyth Road telling motorists that “The U.S.-Israel Relationship Creates Hundreds of Thousands of Jobs in America.”

The nonprofit was responding to a billboard on University between Forsyth and Semoran Boulevard placed by StopTheBlankCheck.org and IfAmericansKnew.org with the message, “$10 million a day to Israel? Our money is needed in America!”

“Anti-Israel groups continue to misinform the public in an attempt to erode American support for Israel,” StandWithUs said. “Their ads hope that well-meaning viewers will conclude that the cessation of U.S. support to Israel will result in peace. They fail to inform viewers that the funds are earmarked primarily for defense with contracts to U.S. manufacturers, thereby creating jobs in America.”

The group also says Israel needs to defend itself against Palestinian leadership such as Hamas, which StandWithUs Chief Executive Officer Roz Rothstein said supports terrorism, partly with U.S. money, and advocates Israel’s destruction.

Alison Weir, 68, a former California newspaper editor who heads StopTheBlankCheck and founded IfAmericansKnew, told the Orlando Sentinel that all American aid should be cut off to Israel — and probably also to Egypt and Jordan because “that money was largely to buy people off from advocating for Palestinian rights.”

The Anti-Defamation League says Weir uses “anti-Semitic imagery” and characterizes Israel and its advocates as “ruthless forces that control American policy through brutal intimidation and deception.”

As for accusations that Weir employs anti-Semitism, “That’s what they say whenever anybody provides information on Israel they don’t like, whether you’re Jewish or not Jewish,” she said.

Weir makes no secret of her advocacy for Palestinians or her disdain for the way Israel was created in 1948. She says the American electorate should be informed on the issue and U.S. financial support of Israel should be debated in Congress.

StandWithUs says Israel is an important ally.

“We have the same values: diversity, human rights and free speech,” Rothstein said. “We fight the same terrorism.”

Last fall, Weir wrote a “My Word” column in the Sentinel in response to a previous “My Word” column by the Florida regional director of the Anti-Defamation League.

Weir said she thinks the University Boulevard billboard is the only one her organization currently has in the state.

StandWithUs has been posting pro-Israel billboards around the country in response to anti-Israel billboards that began appearing in 2007.

sjacobson@tribpub.com or 407-540-5981

Dueling billboards debate U.S. aid to Israel – Orlando Sentinel