LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A billboard battle aimed at swaying public opinion on Israel is being waged on the streets of Los Angeles.
In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, pro-Israeli group Stand With Us has placed two ads on 50 billboards with across the city, including one ad which features a quote from Dr. King in support of the Jewish-majority state.
The billboard depicts King's declaration that "Israel must exist and has the right to exist, and is one of the great outposts of democracy in the world."
Israel is the only country outside the U.S. that also commemorates Martin Luther King Day, according to Stand With Us.
The campaign marks the first time the 13-year-old organization has placed billboards in Los Angeles and comes in response to an anti-Israel ad campaign with a message from late South African liberation leader Nelson Mandela.
Running on more than 30 small billboards across the city since December, the billboard from Ads Against Apartheid (AAA) reads, "Our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians."
"Keeping people under separate sets of laws based on the race, religion and geographic location is a central component of apartheid," said Ads Against Apartheid board member Richard Colbath-Hess. "Nelson Mandela recognized that, and we hope Americans will too."
But Roz Rothstein, CEO of Stand With Us, said Mandela himself voiced his support for Israel in a 1993 address where he stated, "We insist on the right of the state of Israel to exist within secure borders but with equal vigour support the Palestinian right to national self-determination."
"The real tragedy for Palestinians is that their leaders teach hatred for their Jewish neighbors, rather than how to live in mutual respect and acceptance, as MLK preached," said Rothstein. "Unfortunately, Palestinian leaders have said no to all territorial compromises Israel has offered for peaceful resolution to the conflict."
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