A billboard in Detroit that reads “America First Not Israel” is causing controversy and some are accusing its message of being anti-Semitic.
The large sign, placed on 8 Mile Road in Detroit, says that it was “Paid for by Deir Yassin Remembered,” a New-York-based organization that has been posting similar signs throughout the country.
Although the metro-Detroit area has one of the largest Arab populations outside the Middle East, as well as a sizable Jewish community, the sign was placed in a part of the city that is neither predominantly Jewish nor Muslim.
In an interview with Detroit’s WXYZ Fox News affiliate, the Anti-Defamation League’s Heidi Budaj said that the ad and its choice of location is trying to “drive a wedge between the American people and the state of Israel.”
“This particular sign goes a step further and raises an old anti-Semitic canard of dual loyalty, implying that Jews are not loyal to the country in which they live,” Budaj said. “Make no mistake that while many of the Jewish people in the United States support the state of Israel as a Jewish state, we are loyal Americans.”
The website of Deir Yassin Remembered, Inc. lists its mailing address dually under the name of Daniel McGowan, an extreme environmental activist who has served time in prison for “eco-terrorism.”
The battle of Deir Yassin, a village on the western outskirts of Jerusalem, was one of the most controversial of the War of Independence. It took place in April 1948, one month before the State of Israel was declared. There have been charges that units of the Etzel (Irgun) and Lehi (Stern Group) undergrounds massacred dozens of Palestinian civilians in the village and forced the survivors to flee.