WASHINGTON (JTA) – The Washington D.C. Metro transit system must allow a controversial pro-Israel advertisement to run, a federal judge ruled.
U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer supported the American Freedom Law Center in its complaint against the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s decision to delay placing the signs due to possible violence that could arise in light of the recent uproar over the movie "Innocence of Muslims," which denigrated the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
The ad, which currently can be seen in the New York subway system and on buses in San Francisco, reads "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”
Four of these 43- by 62-inch advertisements were initially approved for placement on the platform level beginning Sept. 24, but Metro officials then changed their minds, calling it a matter of safety.
During a hearing on Oct. 4, Metro attorney Philip Staub told the judge that "passengers on Metro are a captive audience," and said that he believed that a "cooling down period would be appropriate" before the ads should be placed.
He said the cooling-off period would run through the end of October but could go longer if a new incident sparked violence anywhere in the world.
Robert Muise, co-founder and senior counsel at the American Freedom Law Center, called the delay a violation of the First Amendment and said a time delay would cause irreparable harm.
Collyer referred to the ad as hate speech several times during the hearing.
Muise told the judge that "we don’t have hate speech restrictions in the United States."
"Provocative speech, speech that creates unrest. That’s what the Supreme Court says needs the greatest" protection, he said following the hearing.
Following the hearing, the woman behind the ad strongly defended the use of the word savage in the ad.
"It’s accurate," said Pamela Geller, founder, editor and publisher of AtlasShrugs.com and executive director of the American Freedom Defense Initiative.
She ran off a long list of what she called incidents of "savagery" throughout the world, including rockets continually being shot into Southern Israel, the recent killing of the Libyan ambassador and the bus bombing in Bulgaria that killed Israeli tourists.
"These acts of Jihad are savage," she said, adding that she planned to run the ad in cities all over the country.