CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. ‒ The Chappaqua Daily Voice will lead into the new year by counting down, in no particular order, the top 10 headlines from 2012.
The first is about an anti-Israeli ad that popped up at the Chappaqua Train Station in July. The billboard, titled "Palestinian Loss of Land ‒ 1946 to 2010," sparked passionate responses from residents and politicians, and even caught the attention of a group in California.
The billboard featured four maps of Palestine/Israel from 1946 through 2010 and appeared to showcase the expansion of Israel at the expense of the Palestinians. The billboard was sponsored by Henry Clifford, who co-chairs the Committee for Peace in Israel and Palestine (COPIP). The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said the billboard is "deliberately misleading and biased," and Assembly member Robert Castelli (R, C-Goldens Bridge) called for its removal.
"I am a strong supporter of the First Amendment right of free speech in the Constitution, and certainly a proponent that the people of Israel and Palestine should live in harmony together," Castelli said in July. "However, the subliminal message that this particular billboard carries is an anti-Israeli message that I believe has just the opposite effect of creating peace and harmony between the Israeli and Palestinian people."
Clifford, who paid $25,000 for the billboards, responded to the controversy in an interview with Fox News.
“There’s always room for discussion of different sides of every story, but there’s no room for discussion on fact. Anyone who challenges these maps and the content of these ads, it’s their obligation to show that they’re historically wrong. The ball is in their court.”
Commuters at the station offered some "feedback" in the form of foul language hand-written and stamped on the ad.
A California-based non-profit, StandWithUs, returned fire in the billboard battle and posted six ads in Metro-North railway stations in Chappaqua, Mount Kisco and White Plains. The ads aimed to highlight the historical Jewish connection to the land of Israel, and how Israel has had a positive impact on the world.
The Chappaqua Daily Voice asked readers if the ads should be removed, and the informal poll received over 2,000 votes. The billboards remained up for nearly two weeks.