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Lawmaker: MTA's New Pro-Palestine Billboards 'Very, Very Dangerous'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- New billboards went up across New York City on Wednesday night with a message that could have subway riders doing a double-take.

They're paid for by a group that wants the U.S. to stop funding for the Israeli military.

CBS 2's Dave Carlin talked to both sides of this billboard controversy.

The ads greeting subway riders across the city feature smiling dads and kids. Palestinians and Israelis pictured together, with the headline "Be on our side."

"It says be on our side, so it's like who's side are we on?" resident Kayla Sanders said.

That "side" is revealed on a smaller line of the ad.

"'End U.S. military aid to Israel,' that is going to cause some controversy," Jessica Hover said.

Assemblyman Dov Hikind said the group behind the campaign, "Two People's, One Future" is pro-Palestinian and is seeking to weaken Israel by having the U.S. cut billions of dollars in military aid to its closest ally in the Middle East.

"I see this as something very, very dangerous," Hikind said. "This is a one-sided mean-spirited attempt to undermine the security and well being of the people of Israel.

"They say this is for peace. This is not for peace. This is for war."

New Yorkers got their first look at this campaign on Sept. 5 when the billboards were installed in 18 subway stations. A Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman said it didn't take long for some complaints to roll in.

Carlin asked the publicly funded MTA why it agreed to the controversial campaign.

"We have specific guidelines for advertising. It cannot promote anything illegal, be obscene or imply the MTA's endorsement. This campaign adhered to the guidelines," MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said.

Ethan Vesely-Flad is with the Fellowship of Reconciliation, a lead sponsor for the ads in New York.

"This is a voice that needs to be heard," he said. "We believe that that military aid is actually protracting the conflict between Israel and Palestine instead of working to end it."

The campaign is spreading across the nation. Assemblyman Hikind and pro-Israeli activists promise they'll respond with a series of response ads reminding the U.S. to remember its friends and keep supporting them.

Other cities in the "Be on our side" campaign include Chicago, Washington D.C., San Francisco and Boston.

What do you think of the billboards? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

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