Jerusalem24 – Israeli NGO B’Tselem has organized a billboard campaign “This is Apartheid” in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank ahead of US President Joe Biden’s visit to the city on Friday, hoping to draw attention to the American-supported Israeli apartheid regime.
Roy Yellin, Public Outreach Manager at B’Tselem tells Jerusalem24, “We just thought there was one big elephant in the room the American president is ignoring during his visit, and in fact what happens in this region is perpetuated by the American support for the Israeli apartheid regime”
“We thought that hanging billboards in Bethlehem where president Biden is supposed to visit tomorrow, it could draw some attention to that topic.”
Today, we greeted US President Biden with billboards in Ramallah and Bethlehem. In order to change reality, we must first recognize it, and work for a future of human rights, justice and equality. pic.twitter.com/DH8Tjrpg4B
— B’Tselem בצלם بتسيلم (@btselem) July 13, 2022
Yellin believes that the message the campaign holds is the right one to deliver. “The underlying problem is that we have the domination of one group at the expense of another and as long as this issue is not addressed, injustice and violence are going to continue.”
Billboards drawing attention to the apartheid regime between the river and the sea are not the only ones that went up in Bethlehem ahead of Biden’s visit. A billboard calling for justice for Shireen Abu Akleh was organized locally by journalists and friends of the veteran Palestinian-American journalist.
Yellin tells Jerusalem24 it is “painful” to see Israel “whitewashing the crime and avoiding a real investigation of the issue.”
“And in this case the victim is also an American citizen. […] The American statement that we got was helping the whitewashing rather than looking and insisting on accountability and finding the person who did that.”The billboard campaign was “a little bit successful in drawing attention to the way the streets [in Israel] talk and the [image] the Israeli government and the American administration try to promote,” Yellin says. “A little bit of truth was able to pierce the propaganda.”
“The American administration thought that they could brush over this issue and have the usual talk about two states without doing anything concrete and that they will understand that this is no longer acceptable.”
B’Tselem made headlines in January 2021 as the first major Israeli NGO to officially recognize Israel’s system of occupation, domination and supremacy over Palestinians as apartheid.