Several members of the New York Jewish community sent a letter yesterday urging Mayor de Blasio to take action against the anti-Islamic ad campaign that will hit subway entrances and buses around the New York City next week.
“This is an issue of justice,” Donna Nevel, who organized the letter, told The Jewish Week. “I, for one, hope the need to renounce bigotry, Islamophobia, and racism in all its forms will resonate with all Jews. What better way to start the New Year.”
The letter, signed by 40 members of the New York Jewish community, said Jews should refuse to stand by and watch other religions face racial discrimination: “We understand from our own history how important it is to speak out and act when individuals promote bigotry and racial discrimination,” it reads.
The ad campaign, sponsored by Pamela Geller, founder of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, features pictures of journalist James Foley standing beside his masked executioner as well as other anti-ISIS imagery. The ads, which cost Geller at a cost of $100,000, associate the gruesome ISIS images with Islamic teachings: “Islamic Jew-Hatred: It’s in the Quran,” ads read. A 1940s photo of Adolph Hitler chatting with a pro-Nazi Palestinian leader is also featured on the ads.
In an interivew last Friday, Mayor de Blasio denounced the campaign as “outrageous, inflammatory and wrong.” However, under Nevel’s leadership, the letter requested even further condemnation, calling on de Blasio to run an anti-AFDI campaign next to the controversial advertisements.
Geller defended the ads as educational. In an interview with 1010 WINS, Geller said, “Our organization has created this campaign in order to educate people about Jihad. I don't think the truth is controversial. I think we're entering a very dangerous period and I don't think the American people should be disarmed in the information battle space."
Geller added that the main purpose of the campaign is to highlight points about Islam ignored by government and media, according to the Associated Press.
Under a federal court ruling, supported by the first amendment, the MTA is required to feature viewpoint ads.
In the past, the MTA posted a previous campaign from the AFDI, which called enemies of Israel “savages.” Subsequently, the MTA sold ad space to countering campaigns advocating tolerance.