MEDIA RELEASE: Continental Outdoor Media succumbs to Israeli-lobby pressure
02 November 2012
Continental Outdoor Media, a local advertising company, has been pressured by members of the Israeli-lobby to remove one of the company's billboards which had a Palestine solidarity message on it.
A joint email circular sent out by the SA Zionist Federation and the SA Jewish Board of Deputies stated that: "On contact with the owners of the billboard site [Continental Outdoor Media]... literally within 6 working hours of the [Palestine solidarity] billboard having gone up – it was removed."
Mary Kluk, the chairperson of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, wrote yesterday in her regular column in SA Jewish Report Newspaper: "On being approached...[Continental Outdoor Media] CEO expressed his most 'serious and sincere apologies' to the Jewish community and ensured that immediate steps were taken to remove it [the Palestine solidarity billboard]. Kol Hakavod [congratulations] to Ben Swartz [of the SA Zionist Federation] and Shira Goldblum for their excellent work in dealing with this matter....[However] it may prove to be only a temporary reprieve."
Continental Outdoor Media initially erected the Palestine solidarity billboard but after being "harassed" by the SA Jewish Board of Deputies and SA Zionist Federation, Continental Outdoor Media removed the Palestine solidarity billboard. Mbuyiseni Ndlozi from BDS South Africa said: "The Israeli lobby is known for its pressure and threats on anyone that is critical of Israel. This sort of thuggish pressure was used just a few years ago to silence Judge Richard Goldstone for his criticism of Israel. It was despicable then, and is despicable now. The Israeli-lobby needs to realize that we live in a democracy in which we debate, argue and even disagree but we don't use threats, harassment, censorship or coercion. Also, it should be stressed that the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, for as long as they champion Zionism, do not speak on behalf of all South African Jews but only on behalf of those who believe in the racist ideas of Zionism and the state of Israel - there are many Jews who do not consider themselves Zionists or supporters of Israel. Thus, the apology from Continental Outdoor Media to the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, is an apology to racism."
After being contacted by a local newspaper, Mr. Barry Sayer, the CEO of Continental Outdoor Media, admitted to taking down the Palestine solidarity billboard after receiving "comment via Facebook and telephone from many...individuals" but Sayer also tried claiming that Continental Outdoor Media "do not run advertising of a political nature". Mbuyiseni Ndlozi contests this: "That Continental Outdoor Media doesn't broadcast political messages is false. For example, we've been informed that Continental Outdoor Media recently ran billboards for the Democratic Alliance that promoted the DA Wage Subsidy campaign. Regardless though, the question must be asked, why didn't Continental Outdoor Media raise any of these so-called concerns when they were first provided with the artwork for our billboard? It goes to show that they are not acting on policy but are simply succumbing to Israel-lobby pressure at the expense of contractual obligations and basic principles of Freedom of Expression. We are currently consulting with our lawyers to see what legal recourse we are entitled to."
The Palestinian solidarity movement in South Africa (through two organizations, BDS South Africa and the Palestine Solidarity Alliance) recently took out over 12 Palestine solidarity billboards across the country to graphically explain the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian lands. One version of the billboard depicts a shrinking Palestinian territory by an increasing Israeli Occupation over the years in a series of maps. Under the maps, "Palestinian Loss of Land - 1946 to 2010" is printed in large letters. Next to the maps, a message says, "4.7 million Palestinians are classified by the UN as refugees." Find photos here:
More than seven of the twelve Palestine solidarity billboards have already gone up, only one was contracted out to Continental Outdoor Media. The others, which have been hired out via other advertising companies, still remain. Ndlozi commented: "We don't view this as a setback, if anything, it exposes the Israeli lobby and their tactics. The rest of our billboards are still up, the Palestine solidarity billboard campaign continues, and our solidarity with the Palestinian struggle against Israeli apartheid is as strong as ever. In addition we know from our own past that this suppression of basic freedoms by the Israeli lobby is actually what will lead to the inevitable fall and failure of Zionism and support of Israel in our democratic South Africa."

Muhammed Desai: 084 211 9988
Mbuyiseni Ndlozi: 073 133 3012

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