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Thursday, July 2, 2020

StandWithUs Counters Breaking the Silence with Pro-Israel Billboard

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Erin Ben-Moche
Erin is the Digital Content Manager at the Jewish Journal. She writes about Jewish art and culture.

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To counteract a recent anti-occupation billboard made by Breaking the Silence (BTS), a non-profit organization made up of IDF veterans who “expose reality of everyday life in the occupied territories”, StandWithUs (SWU) will run its own billboard above Israel’s Ayalon Freeway for a week beginning on May 15.

The billboard will promote tours to Israel and reads: “Dare to Dream of Peace, Security and Coexistence – Join our Tours – See the Full Picture” —in response to BTS posting their billboard, May 12, the Sunday prior to the Eurovision Song Contest. Tours are offered to Nazareth, Gush Etzion, Haifa, the Gaza periphery and Jaffa.

It contrasts BTS’ billboard, displayed on the road from Ben Gurion Airport to Tel Aviv, which shows Tel Aviv beaches side-by-side against an anti-terror Security Barrier titled “Dare to Dream of Freedom.” BTS offers tours to Hebron.

“It’s a shame that something that is positive and exciting like Eurovision is now going to be used as a political tool to create ill will against Israel,” Stand With Us CEO Roz Rothstein told the Journal. “[BTS] are looking at it as a way for negativity and we are looking at it as a positive. Let them see Haifa, let them see the Gaza border and let’s show them the cooperation, let’s show them coexistence. Things aren’t perfect but let’s show them Palestinians and Israelis working together. We thought that the tour idea was actually a good one. We want to educate [tourists].”

“Breaking the Silence is making a desperate and cynical attempt to divert from the positive celebration of Eurovision being hosted in Israel in order to defame the Jewish State,” StandWithUs Israel Executive Director Michael Dickson said in a statement. “The truth is that there is no silence to break. While they may seek to present a one-sided, politicized viewpoint, we will show a forward-facing, open and honest view of how the future could look with peace and security for all. I am confident that tourists will enjoy themselves in Israel and get a chance to see our open society and how Israel is a beacon of light to the world.”

Eurovision kicks off May 14 and runs through Saturday, May 18.

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