Riding Shotgun for Palestine
How I helped IF AMERICANS KNEW have a successful billboard truck campaign
When the activist I most admire in the world requested my help with her billboard truck campaign, it didn’t matter that my to-do-list cup runneth over. I dropped everything to assist Alison Weir and If Americans Knew, the organization she founded in the early 2000s after traveling by herself on her own fact-finding mission throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the early 2000s.
The ad campaign began January 26, running through February 2. The billboard truck company is owned by a Palestinian based in Chicago. The driver, Keith, had never been to New York City, so my job was to show him all the hot spots to hit such as news outlets, universities, key neighborhoods, etc. For three days, eight hours a day, I rode shotgun all over the city as electronic billboards rotating different images informed New Yorkers about the catastrophe unfolding in Palestine.
Our best encounter was a huge pro-Palestinian march that we learned was crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. We raced downtown to accompany the marchers, but lo and behold found out the bridge had a height limit of 11 feet. Doh! Our truck was 12 feet. An online search indicated the truck could clear the Williamsburg Bridge so off we flew, getting spewed out in of all places: Williamsburg’s Hasidic neighborhood. Oy vey, the looks we got!
We finally found the long line of marchers still trooping down the Brooklyn Bridge, and were able to conveniently park right at the intersection where they were entering Brooklyn. The spirited protesters showered us with bountiful love and raised fists. I couldn’t help but think, however, that many of these pro-peace activists had probably marched for Ukraine, paradoxically supporting the sinister aggression by the U.S. and NATO against Russia and the ethnic Russians in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
In any event, better to have as many supporters on our side than not since New York has the largest population of Jews of any city in the world (1,600,000 versus the next largest city, Jerusalem, with 546,000). Translation: a potentially tough crowd.
Surprisingly, though, the negative outrage was not as palpable as I had anticipated. On the very liberal Jewish Upper West Side, an angry-faced passenger gave us the finger for a full block. On the very conservative Jewish Upper East Side, a man screamed out “clowns!” as he raced past us. All in all, rather mild actually.
The worst encounter, though, was an utterly unhinged man driving along our left side, half stretched out into the passenger seat, maniacally screaming over and over for several blocks, “What about the babies????!!!!” I shouted back “Genocide!” a couple times, and then Keith finally just rolled up the window. At that, the man sped ahead of us, cutting us off mere inches away from an outright collision.
The entire incident was quite nerve-racking. He was clearly someone who will never in this lifetime learn that “the babies” atrocity story has been thoroughly debunked—as has Israel’s many other wild, lurid lies. See here, here, here, here, and here.
Why do people continue to reference the October 2023 debunked baby stories anyway? For example, Bari Weiss is still publishing the disproven propaganda on her FAIR platform as recently as January 27, 2024.
Perhaps this ongoing disinformation campaign results from a 43-minute Israeli film that shows brutal images of mayhem and deaths, purportedly all committed by Hamas on October 7. The Israelis only screened the propaganda film to select journalists and dignitaries, and therefore the “worst atrocities” can’t be refuted because Israel refuses to release the film to a wider critical audience. Similarly, the Israelis denied access to an international team to meet with the alleged rape victims. No evidence proffered, just allegations.
Recommended trusted resource: Oct7FactCheck.com
Gratefully, we got more love than hate. Drivers honked in agreement. Many people took photos of the signs. Others knocked on my window if we were parked to share a thumbs up, a few even saying “Thank you!” or “I love If Americans Knew!” An halal vendor in Times Square looked at me with flummoxed gratitude. Was it my imagination, or was he really thinking “pinch me this is real, that the world is on Palestine’s side”?
Several times I looked up from my peripheral vision to see people waving their arms to get my attention in order to mime their support. Parked in front of a restaurant’s big window, a cashier was seemingly ignoring customers as he proactively conveyed his approval. Only when I replied in kind did he resume his work.
I have to say, I am still not sure if all these supporters really were registering heartfelt solidarity with Palestinians—or if this generation is simply inculcated in the fine art of virtual signaling.
On that note, I’ll end with the Malcolm X quote:
If you’re not careful, the newpapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.
Please support If Americans Knew. They do such important, honorable work.