Anti-Israel billboards coming down in Seattle


(JTA) — Three billboards calling on the United States to stop its aid to Israel will be removed from downtown Seattle, several months after similar bus ads were rejected.

The ads, sponsored by the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign, were deemed offensive by Clear Channel Outdoor, which decided late last week that it would remove the ads after originally accepting them. Clear Channel said its policy is to avoid messages that are offensive to certain groups of people and organizations, the Seattle Times reported.

The billboards read "Equal rights for Palestinians: Stop funding the Israel military."

In February, a federal judge in Seattle ruled that the Metro Transit system of King County, Wash., did not violate the First Amendment rights of the campaign when it refused to run an ad on its buses accusing Israel of war crimes.

The billboard ad also gives the address of the group’s website. Clear Channel said it was canceling the billboards more because of the offensive language on the website than the ad, according to the Seattle Times.

The Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign bought four ads to run for four weeks at about $1,400 each, though only three were in place when it was decided that they must be removed, the newspaper reported. 

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

Three days before the bus ad was supposed to start running, King County Executive Dow Constantine ordered the Metro Transit system to reject the ad as well as any other new noncommercial advertising.

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