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Provocative Palestine-Israel ads at New York train stations rile critics

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Henry Clifford, co-chairman of The Committee for Peace in Israel and Palestine, told FoxNews.com he paid $25,000 to display posters at 50 Metro-North Railroad stations for 30 days. They are to “educate and inform people” on the proper historical context of the region, he said.

Advertisements at train stations in suburban New York depicting shrinking Palestinian territory in Israel are riling some critics who say they are “deliberately misleading and inaccurate,” FoxNews.com has learned.

The ads, which were purchased by The Committee for Peace in Israel and Palestine, show the “Palestinian Loss of Land” from 1946 to 2010. An accompanying headline reads: "4.7 million Palestinians are classified by the U.N. as Refugees."

Henry Clifford, co-chairman of the group, told FoxNews.com he paid $25,000 to display posters at 50 Metro-North Railroad stations for 30 days. They are to “educate and inform people” on the proper historical context of the region, he said.

“Anyone who challenges these maps and the content of these ads, it’s they’re obligation to show that they’re historically wrong."

- Henry Clifford, The Committee for Peace and Palestine

“There’s always room for discussion of different sides of every story, but there’s no room for discussion on fact,” Clifford said. “Anyone who challenges these maps and the content of these ads, it’s they’re obligation to show that they’re historically wrong. The ball is in their court.”

Dovid Efune, editor of the Brooklyn-based Algemeiner Journal, which caters to the Jewish community, has called for the ads to be removed.

“They are offensive,” Efune told FoxNews.com. “Primarily because they’re deliberating misleading and inaccurate, but they also remove all historical context. What’s happened over time is that it’s actually the Jewish-owned land that’s became smaller and smaller and smaller. If you look in the historical context, it’s actually the Jewish land that has decreased over time.”

The “damaging” ads also are purposefully confusing and paint the Jewish state in a very negative light, said Efune, who called on Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials to remove the ads.

“They say they don’t want to get into politics, but in the past they have declined to run ads based on them being offensive to certain groups,” he said. “They should be consistent and take the ads down now.”

The ads, as of now, will stay, however, according to Aaron Donovan, a spokesman for the transit agency.

“The MTA and our advertising contractor, CBS Outdoor, review proposed advertisements to ensure that they comply with the MTA’s uniform, viewpoint-neutral advertising standards,” Donovan said in a statement. “We do not decide whether to accept or reject a proposed ad based on the viewpoint that it expresses or because the ad might be controversial. The MTA does not endorse the viewpoint expressed in this ad, or any of the ads that it accepts for display.”

Under the First Amendment, the MTA must accept any submitted advertisement unless it violates one of its guidelines as a public agency. Those guidelines prohibit ads that are obscene, promote illegal goods, depict a minor in sexually-suggestive dress and other controversial topics.

Anti-Defamation League officials have also criticized the “fundamentally anti-Israel” posters.

“The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is extremely complex and cannot be summarized in a series of four maps,” said Ron Meier, ADL’s New York regional director. “This ad campaign completely ignores the facts, including the history of land ownership prior to 1948, Israel’s repeated efforts to exchange land for peace, and the commitment of successive Israeli governments to achieving a two-state solution with the Palestinians.”

The reference to the number of Palestinian refugees makes it appear as if Israel was responsible for their displacement, Meier said.

Clifford, who has previously been behind billboard ads in Westchester County, said he was pleased to learn that the advertisements did not violate the agency’s guidelines. He also disputed Efune’s characterization of the land dispute.

“The Jewish-owned land is getting smaller? That’s the equivalent of saying the Earth is flat,” he said. “It’s simply so absurd that it’s hard to find a rational response to it. Anyone who criticizes Israel is vilified regardless of how factual their criticism is.”

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