Israel being promoted in East Bay BART posters campaign &mdash and in online contest

When Angelika Romanski, a 23-year-old college student from Poland, visited the Middle East, she was struck by the fact that Israel was the only country in the region in which women had equal rights.

That fact will soon be publicized on BART trains and at stations throughout the Bay Area, thanks to a public awareness campaign by the Jewish Community Federation of the Greater East Bay’s Israel task force.

The task force has worked with a national group, truthaboutisrael.org, to develop this publicity campaign, which will advertise two Web sites to BART riders, telling where they can find more information about Israel.

Both Web sites — the other one is sharedvaluesshareddreams.org, hosted by the federation itself — will offer facts and links to other sites, to educate BART riders about aspects of Israel they may not know.

At the truthaboutisrael.org Web site, Romanski is joined by other young people from around the world who share their positive opinions about the Jewish state.

For example, a Vietnamese man talks about how Israel offered refuge to his fellow “boat people,” and a Turkish man recalls how Israel sent rescue teams when his country suffered a tremendous earthquake.

“With this campaign, we’re conveying facts about Israel, plain and simple,” said Loren Basch, CEO of the federation.

“The billboards urge folks to learn the ‘truth about Israel,’ to go beyond what they’re reading on page one or hearing in 20-second sound bites. Once they do, they’ll learn just how similar Israel is to the United States and to the East Bay, in particular. Both have a longstanding tradition of reaching out to help others and both believe in honoring a diversity of opinion.”

The billboards are part of a larger effort by the federation to educate the public about the similarities between Israel and the United States. They will be featured at BART stations throughout the East Bay, including in Oakland, Berkeley, Fremont, Walnut Creek and Dublin/Pleasanton.

In related news, another local venture is offering anyone with an artistic flair the opportunity to broadcast his or her own positive message about Israel throughout the Bay Area.

Bluestar PR, a new moniker given to what began as a grassroots effort by San Franciscan Jonathan Carey in May, is sponsoring the poster contest. The winner will be the best-designed poster of Israel as a democratic, pluralistic society.

The winner will see his or her message displayed in April along several major highways in the Bay Area and overlooking the Bay Bridge — and, if enough money is raised, around the country, as well.

Though Carey’s poster campaign began rather low-key last year — those artworks are mostly being used at rallies on college campuses — he has since received funding from the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, and has hired two additional part-time staff people.

Carey’s posters have featured messages highlighting that gay soldiers serve in the Israeli military and Arab women vote in Israel, as well as Israeli innovations in the high-tech sector.

The posters can be downloaded off of the Web site, bluestarpr.com, though Bluestar PR will provide them free to those who need them.

The grand prize winner will receive a $1,000 Israel Bond, which will increase in value to $1,800 at maturity. The first 50 people to enter will receive a copy of Donna Rosenthal’s book “The Israelis: Ordinary People in an Extraordinary Land.”

The contest deadline is Feb. 29. For more information, go to bluestarpr.com.

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."