Seattle bus ad decrying ‘Israeli war crimes’ rejected

(JTA) — Advertisements about "Israeli war crimes" slated to be carried by buses in downtown Seattle have been rejected.

On Dec. 24, King County Executive Dow Constantine ordered the Metro Transit system to reject the ad as well as any other new noncommercial advertising.

The Seattle Midwest Awareness Campaign had paid $1,794 to place the advertisements on 12 buses beginning Dec. 27, the day Israel entered Gaza to stop rocket attacks on its southern communities. The ads feature a group of children looking at a demolished building under the heading "Israeli War Crimes: Your tax dollars at work."

A group known as the American Freedom Defense Initiative had also submitted two advertisements to the Seattle transit company to counter the original ad. Constantine ordered a review of the transit system’s advertising policy; under the current policy, advertisements are accepted for Seattle buses so long as they do not publicize pornography, alcohol or tobacco, and so long as the images and material used don’t interfere with public safety or incite a riot. Constantine said Dec. 24 that the proposed ads presented "significant security concerns."

“Given the dramatic escalation of debate in the past few days over these proposed ads, and the submission of inflammatory response ads, there is now an unacceptable risk of harm to or disruption of service to our customers should these ads run,” Constantine said.

The transit authority received more than 1,200 e-mails about the anti-Israel ad last week, most of them opposing it. Most of the comments came from outside the Seattle area, according to reports.

Ed Mast, spokesman for the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign, said his organization "will take action to keep our message alive." He did not specify whether that action would include a lawsuit.
 

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