The Shmooze

War of the Bus Ads

By Michael Kaminer

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Maybe they felt left out after seeing those dueling holiday bus ads by believers and atheists. After pro-Palestinian group Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign bought ads on local buses alleging “Israeli war crimes,” a group calling itself the American Freedom Defense Initiative countered by buying its own ads with messages like “One Billion Dollars to Hamas: Your Taxpayer dollars at Work,” according to JTA. Both campaigns are slated to begin next week.

In the meantime, reports the Seattle Times, leaders of four Jewish organizations yesterday asked local officials to reconsider decisions allowing SMAC’s ads, saying local Jews “have good reason to fear it could lead to crimes against them.” According to the Times, Hilary Bernstein, Pacific Northwest community director of the Anti-Defamation League, told officials the ads “actually pose a public-safety threat.” Rob Jacobs, Northwest regional director of pro-Israel media advocates StandWithUs, said Jewish representatives reminded officials that “synagogues and schools have upgraded security in recent years after their buildings were defaced, a man frightened students as he screamed ‘Heil Hitler!’ on the Seattle Hebrew Academy campus and another man shot six women, one fatally, at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle,” according to the Times.

While a spokesman for the Kings County Executive had initially said the ads would run as scheduled, the resulting “political firestorm” may change the policy after all, according to local-news site NWCN.com. “Metro is considering changing its ad policies for non-commercial groups, but says it could be costly and tricky,” the site says. For its part, Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign is proudly touting its role in the “counter” ads on its Stop Islamicization of America web site. “I put the finishing touches on the two ads AFDI/SIOA ads that will be running in Seattle to counter the nazi-style propaganda designed to incite violence and hatred towards the Jewish people,” says a post purportedly by a person responsible for the ads.


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