Open letter to TransLink regarding pro-Palestinian ads

Dear TransLink Management and Board, and municipal and provincial leaders: 

I've seen at least one of the pro-Palestinian ads on one of our local buses in Vancouver -- and I'm shocked. Disgusted, really. Taking money to carry propaganda is simply wrong, and inflammatory. Do you realize that the depictions used in the ads are historically and geographically inaccurate? The misleading, agitating message is likely to bring elevated risk to many of your passengers.
 
I'm not putting any of my family on a TransLink bus until we can feel safe to ride our local public transportation.
 
This is not about freedom of expression. This is a concerted effort by some of your new commercial customers to misrepresent a geopolitical issue located halfway around the world.  How many people here really know the facts? 
 
Imagine that numerous people will subconsciously absorb the message:
"Oh, I saw it on our trusted public transit system, so I guess it must be legit…"  The power of the drip effect of advertising is a sad fact.
 
Dangerous seeds are being planted, and you're facilitating the damage.
 
Would you allow "ads" for any sides of the Jammu and Kashmir conflict? Good luck keeping locals out of that fray.  Or would you accept ads that pit China against Taiwan, and risk offending a significant minority of our local population?  Would you accept an ad supporting the Chinese government at the expense of the Tibetans?  Have our local Canadian First Nations revile our federal government for past mistakes?  Where will you draw the line?
 
The potential impact of these offensive ads is dangerous targeting of a minority group.
 
If you say this ad is about freedom of expression, I have this to say:  Let anyone stand on their own soap box and talk to others who are willing to listen. But such freedom is not absolute.  Allowing people to manipulate your slack interpretation of this freedom is absurd. They should not be allowed to incite hatred.  
 
And our public transit system must not be a mercenary billboard-on-wheels for anyone with misguided intentions.

I can only hope you will act appropriately, and remove these ads from circulation.
 
I know it's not always easy, running large organizations and balancing competing demands and urgencies.  Wishing you the ability to see clearly, and the wisdom to do what's right.
 
Esther Chetner
Vancouver
 
Editor's note: The Vancouver Observer contacted TransLink for a comment on the issue prior to publishing. A TransLink media representative responded with a link to its website explaining the company's policy on the ad. 
 
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