The Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East plan to appeal a Toronto Transit Commission decision to reject an ad advocating Palestinian rights.
The ad displays a sequence of maps detailing the gradual loss of Palestinian land to the state of Israel. They also hold statements that the TTC cites as inaccurate.
“There’s a line in the ad. It talks about the loss of land being illegal under international law. We consulted with our lawyers and the statement in our view is not accurate,” said Brad Ross, the TTC’s Executive Director of Corporate Communications.
The CJPME ad depicts four maps of Israel and the Palestinian territories and beneath the maps are photos and the contentious words.
The Palestinian Awareness Coalition pitched a similar ad to Vancouver’s TransLink, but with just the maps. TransLink ran the ad, but not without some controversy.
“They are slightly different,” said Joan MacNeil, a Senior Policy Analyst and Toronto coordinator for the CJPME. “The difference in our ad is that we also have photos of situations in the areas in where Palestinians are living.”
Alongside images of Palestinian children being detained by the Israel Defence Force are statements arguing that Israel’s settlements and expanded occupation is illegal according to international law.
“The maps are not the issue,” Ross said. “The objection of the ad is not based on the maps. It’s the contention that the loss of land is illegal under international law; that’s the objection.”
“We’ll take another shot at revising the ads to see if we can address some of these concerns,” MacNeil said.
While TTC maintains the statements on the ads to be inaccurate, the maps are not, according a University of Toronto historian.
“As a graphic way of demonstrating the Arab loss of land in Palestine it’s very effective,” said James Reilly, a professor of modern Middle East history.
“I think the overall picture it shows, is that it’s telling a story which is true, the Arabs of Palestine have progressively lost control over more and more of their country.”
As for the claim that the loss of Palestinian land is illegal under international law, the CJPME cites several international statutes and rulings.
“You have the International Court of Justice,” MacNeil said. “The International Criminal Court, the UN Security Council Resolution and the Geneva Convention. As far as I know the Geneva Convention and the UN Security Council Resolution are binding.”
CJPME says it is willing to go to court over the issue if the ad revisions are rejected.