Seattle buses may display anti-Israel advertising

KING-TV in Seattle reports:

King County [which includes Seattle] Council Pres. Peter von Reichbauer is calling for a review of proposed advertising on Metro buses that blasts Israel.

In a letter to King County Executive Dow Constantine, von Reichbauer wrote “I am a strong advocate of freedom of speech and a strong believer of common sense. And I believe very strongly that dangerous language can create dangerous environments in a society.”

The advertisement reads “Israeli War Crimes Your tax dollars at work.” To the right of the image is a group of children — one boy stares out at the viewer, the others look at a demolished building.

Von Reichbauer says the ads need to be reviewed and re-evaluated.

The campaign was supposed to roll out on Dec. 27. The date itself is controversial. Dec. 27 is the two-year anniversary of Israeli military action in Gaza.

A group calling itself the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign has paid King County $1,794 so that 12 buses can carry the sign.

Earlier KING-TV reported:

Ed Mast, a Seattle man who is a spokesperson for the group, says it’s not meant to be an anti-Israel message, but a message designed to generate discussion and awareness.

“I wouldn’t say it’s an anti-Israel message any more than any complaint about a country is anti-that country. We would like Israel to stop violating human rights. We would like Israel to give equal rights to its Palestinian citizens and its Palestinian subjects who live under occupation,” said Mast.

At the Pacific Northwest office of the Anti-Defamation League, the ad campaign is seen quite a bit differently.

“We’re dismayed,” says Community Director Hilary Bernstein, who calls the bus-born advertisement grotesquely one-sided. “Citizens young and old will be seeing this sort of propaganda, this very one-sided distortion. It’s unfortunate.”

So, is the side of a public bus the right place for this kind of attack? Are the issues that regularly inflame one of the most flammable hot-spots in the world appropriate fare for people strolling the sidewalks of Seattle?

As far as King County is concerned, it’s not really up to them what appears on the side of their buses, as long as it fits specific guidelines regarding:

* Pornography
* Alcohol
* Tobacco, and
* As long as the images and material used don’t interfere with public safety or insult specific groups to the point that a riot could be incited, vandalism could occur or public safety could be threatened.

King County Metro Transit spokesperson Linda Thielke acknowledges some people will be offended by the campaign, but that is not enough to prevent the rolling billboards from hitting the streets.

Note the assumption that Israel supporters– unlike other “specific groups”– will not be offended to the point of riot or vandalism.

Also watch this video featuring Ed Mast and others denouncing Israel after the Gaza flotilla raid last May.

Note that at 3:00, the protesters chant “Palestine will be free…” Of course the next line is “…from the river to the sea” (i.e., no more Israel), but we don’t get to hear that. Instead the video cuts to the chant, “Stop killing children now.” However there was no effort to obscure the disgusting sign “Zionism=Genocide.”