American Muslims for Palestine board chair Dr. Hatem Bazian announces a campaign that will put this sign on San Francisco buses for the next month.
This bus sign campaign is yet another free speech effort -- we see a lot of them around here, what's the big deal?
Unless I'd happened on one of the buses, I probably wouldn't have noticed this effort. Nor would I have thought much about it. I have no trouble believing retired South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu when he calls Israel an apartheid state. He's got no axe to grind; in fact, as far as I know he labors in retirement for peace and justice. And he knows plenty about systemic discrimination and exclusion. I'll take his word for it. And the ad itself, highlighting the fact that U.S. taxpayers are paying for systemic discrimination and exclusion, seems simply true to me.
But the campaign got a higher profile on my mental horizon when emails started flying by about a clutch of organizations -- the Jewish Community Relations Council, the Anti-Defamation League, and the American Jewish Committee -- branding the ads as "inflammatory rhetoric designed to delegitimize Israel's very existence," "extremist language," and "bigoted lies and demonization." It seemed as if the triggering word was apartheid. Jewish Voice for Peace jumped into the fray with a collection of other people in addition to the Archbishop who have uttered the dread word: