STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.
Did a billboard in New York City's Times Square say "CEASEFIRES ARE ANTI-SEMITIC"? No, that's not true: An image of this billboard on social media was digitally altered. In the original October 2023 photo of the billboard, the ad urges: "Be Human. Stand For Israel."
CEASEFIRES ARE ANTI-SEMITIC.
The caption commented:
🇺🇸🇮🇱 Wanting to stop the slaughter of innocent civilians is anti-semitic‼️
This is what the post looked like on X at the time of writing:
Lead Stories contacted the owner of the billboard, Silvercast Media, and the company operating the billboard, Clear Channel Outdoor. On January 16, 2024, Jason D. King, a senior vice president of corporate communications for Clear Channel Outdoor refuted the claim via email:
The copy you referenced did not appear on any of our displays.
Lead Stories also contacted the New York office of the Israeli American Council, which paid for the billboard. The organization's name is visible at the bottom of the original billboard. Replying to Lead Stories via email on January 12, 2024, a person handling external communications on the Council's behalf shared a link to a Forbes article (archived here) debunking the claim.
An examination of the image shows an inconsistency: The text about ceasefires on the bottom billboard is not as blurry as a barely visible line of text seen at the bottom of both billboards.
The official accounts of Israel's Consulate General in New York City published the original photo on Facebook (archived here) and on X (archived here) on October 19, 2023, nearly two weeks after the start of the Hamas-Israel War on October 7, 2023. It did not contain any text about ceasefires:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Fri Jan 12 14:23:59 2024)
As seen in the image above, both billboards read:
BE HUMAN. STAND FOR ISRAEL.
On October 19, 2023, people gathered at this site to demand the release of Israeli hostages taken to Gaza, Reuters (archived here) reported.
The Israeli American Council, a nonprofit diaspora group, livestreamed the rally on YouTube (archived here). The billboards with the Israeli flag and the phrase "Be human. Stand for Israel" appear at the 18:10 and 18:37 marks. Another billboard with faces of the hostages is seen at the 16:53 mark.
The video recording of the rally did not show the billboard text about ceasefires. Reuters also did not mention any such billboard.
Lead Stories also searched on Google (archived here) by using the exact text seen in the "Ceasefires Are Anti-Semitic" photo but found only fact checks and stories unrelated to Times Square and the billboards.
Other Lead Stories fact checks of claims about the Hamas-Israel war can be found here.
2024-01-16T22:47:37Z 2024-01-16T22:47:37ZAdds response from the company operating the billboard, Clear Channel Outdoor.
2024-01-15T18:07:22Z 2024-01-15T18:07:22ZAdds response from the Israeli American Council.