Billboard in Contra Costa County raises eyebrows

 

A billboard on Interstate 680 opposing U.S. financial support of Israel will stay up for two more weeks, the remainder of its four-week lease, said Ilana Kaufman, JCRC’s public affairs and civic engagement director for the East Bay.

Dan Lapporte, president of Congregation B’nai Tikvah in Walnut Creek, sent out an email to members last week addressing the billboard, which is near the Walnut Creek-Pleasant Hill border.

 

Billboard on Highway 680 photo/ifamericansknew.org

“When it comes to anti-Semitic advertising, we will not stand idly by,” the email noted. “We’re not certain how the billboard was approved since the cities of Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill have standards, but we have been informed that the Jewish Community Relations Council of the East Bay is looking into this.”

 

The billboard points people toward the website of If Americans Knew, an organization founded by freelance journalist Alison Weir. Lapporte visited the site and found it “filled with anti-Israel rhetoric and derogatory commentary about Zionism.”

Weir spoke on Feb. 9 to members of the Voices for Justice in Palestine club at the Rossmoor senior community in Walnut Creek. The room was packed with at least 75 people, according to Mary Izett, the club’s co-chair.

Kaufman told J. that the Contra Costa Jewish community is receiving regular updates from her office regarding the billboard. The JCRC, ADL and StandWithUs have been working together to discuss possible responses, and have been working with the Jewish community at Rossmoor to help them with advocacy, she said. Contra Costa Midrasha also reached out to the JCRC, Kaufman said, “and we are working with them on how their teens can respond.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America both have criticized Weir and her group. CAMERA notes that Weir and IAK “parrot discredited claims” about Israel vis-à-vis the Palestinians, and uses words such as “preposterous” and “unreliable” to describe Weir and her assertions.  — j. staff