Free speech under fire as "Irish4Israel" posters vandalised

Vandals have repeatedly defaced Israel-related tourist billboards in Ireland

by The Commentator on 30 April 2013 10:52

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Israeli tourism billboards have been repeatedly vandalised in Cork, Ireland's second largest city.

On April 22nd, seven Israeli tourism adverts were placed around the city, encouraging the public to "Visit Israel" with pictures showing scenes of people dining or having fun in the Jewish State.

The adverts read, "Visit Israel" with a large "Irish4Israel' banner across the bottom.

But within 24 hours of being up on various bus stops, the posters were defaced with anti-Israel propaganda. Stickers reading "Boycott" were placed over the word "Visit' so the billboards read, "Boycott Israel". In addition to this, speech bubbles were plastered over people's mouths in the photos which read, "Israel has destroyed 530 Palestinian torns and villages".

Even after the billboards were cleaned and returned to their original state, they were vandalised again within hours.

Critics have noted that similar posters are often seen promoting Cyprus, Turkey, Egypt and Morocco, none of which are ever defaced despite the ongoing disputes over territory, ethnic minorities or religious groups in these countries.

One local activist told The Commentator, "This is no longer just an attack on Israeli tourism advertising. It is also an attack on free speech. These posters were not political, they were to encourage Irish people to Visit Israel. Yes we hope that after they had visited they would see the reality for themselves which is that Israel is a tolerant, modern, multi faith, multicultural society. We hoped they would see just how popular Irish culture, music and stories seem to be with Israelis."

The Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign promoted the vandalised billboards on its Facebook page with the comment, "#HasbaraFail in Cork as local Adbusters reveal some ugly truths". The anti-Israel website Electronic Intifada described the vandalism as "biting and funny".

The criminal damage has been reported to local police.

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