TORONTO — The Toronto Transit Commission has rejected a proposal by the group Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) to run an anti-Israel ad that is “inaccurate and misleading,” TTC spokesperson Brad Ross said.
“There are statements in the ad with respect to illegality and international law that the TTC, in its legal opinion, believe are inaccurate and misleading and as could result in a specific group – in this case Israelis and/or Jewish people – being targeted or may lead to hatred or violence against that specific group,” Ross said.
The CJPME’s proposed ad is similar, but not identical, to the “Disappearing Palestine” ad that began running during the summer in Vancouver’s transit system. The ad shows four maps, spanning from 1946 to 2012, that suggest Israel is taking over Palestinian land.
The pro-Israel group StandWithUs Canada posted ads in Vancouver public transit stations Oct. 14 to counter the anti-Israel ad. One emphasized shared Canadian and Israeli values, while the other depicts what it calls Jewish loss of land in the Mideast since biblical times.
Ross said that the CJPME ad submitted to the TTC did contain the four maps, “but there are some statements made [that there has been] Palestinian loss of land, and then it says this is unfair and then there is a statement that it’s also illegal under international law.
“We hang our hat on this particular language, and our legal opinion is that there has been no international court finding on illegality,” he added.
The decision to reject the ad was made by TTC staff, who reviewed it and determined it was unacceptable under the TTC’s advertising policy and the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards.
“The advertisements that run on the TTC must comply with our policy, of course, but also adhere to all applicable laws and any guidelines that are set up by the Supreme Court of Canada,” Ross said.
He said that the CJPME has the right to appeal the decision. If it chooses to do so, an advertising review working group made up of three TTC board members will determine if TTC staff applied the policy appropriately.
The Montreal-based CJPME, which was notified of the decision on Oct. 18, may appeal the rejection, Ross noted.
CJPME President Thomas Woodley told JTA on Oct. 21 that his group had not seen the transit commission ruling and could not comment.
B’nai Brith Canada congratulated the commission “for making the right decision.”
“In properly interpreting the law on free speech to understand that it does not include the right to spread false information, the TTC has not allowed itself to fall prey to the false anti-Israel propaganda campaign,” B’nai Brith said.
With files from JTA