JTA — An anti-occupation billboard aimed at visitors coming to Israel for the Eurovision Song Contest is now featured on the road from Ben Gurion Airport to Tel Aviv.
The billboard was put by Sunday by Breaking the Silence, a group of Israeli combat veterans who oppose Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. Eurovision is being held this week in Tel Aviv.
On one side, the sign co-opts the Eurovision slogan “Dare to Dream” against the photo of a Tel Aviv beach, and the other reads “of Freedom” against a photo of the security wall with the Palestinian city of Hebron behind it.
The billboard also advertises the group’s tours of Hebron “to see the full picture.”
Breaking the Silence has spurred controversy in Israel, whose right-wing government has made efforts to limit its activity. Last year, Israel passed a law that bars activists from the group and others like it from entering schools.
The Israel advocacy group StandWithUs said in a statement sent to JTA that it will respond with its own billboard set to go up on Wednesday. The billboard focuses on peace represented by doves and Israeli children, showing a young Jew and a young Arab walking together with their arms around each other, and will offer tourists an opportunity to join the group’s tours of Israel.
StandWithUs tours visit Haifa, which is a mixed Arab and Jewish city, West Bank settlements and communities on Israel’s border with Gaza.
Israeli officials and mainstream media condemned the poster.
“The despicable hate organisation Breaking the Silence again finds time to spread lies against the state of Israel,” Public Security Minster Gilad Erdan tweeted.
Top-selling Israeli daily Yedioth Aharonot said the Eurovision phenomenon was meant to set reality aside.
“In Eurovision there are only fantastic landscapes, beautiful people and spectacular beaches.”
It accused the group of “exploiting the opportunity to circulate propaganda in service to the anti-Israel campaign.”
AFP contributed to this report