Israel War Crimes campaign launches on Seattle Metro buses
Seattle Metro buses to feature advertisements depicting anti-Israel messages
If you plan on visitng Seattle in the near future, you might see Metro buses plastered with advertisements reading “Israeli War Crimes -Your tax dollars at work". To the right of the slogan is an image featuring a group of young children where one boy stares intensely at the viewer, and the others gaze at a demolished building.
The advertisements are sponsored by a group calling itself the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign. They have paid King County $1,794, which allows 12 buses to carry the message around the city, which will begin shortly after Christmas. They chose to launch on December 27, the two-year anniversary of Israeli attacks on Gaza which had aimed to stop rocket attacks and weapons smuggling.
Ed Mast, a spokesperson for the group, states that it’s not intended to be an anti-Israel message. Instead, they hope 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.
Hilary Bernstein of the Anti-Defamation League views the ad quite differently.
"Citizens young and old will be seeing this sort of propaganda, this very one-sided distortion. It's unfortunate," states Bernstein.
The real question remains whether a public transit system is the appropriate place to showcase such messages. According to King County, it’s not their place to make this decision, as long as the material fits within specific guidelines: no pornography, alcohol, tobacco, or images that may lead to injury or encourage a riot.
Linda Theilke of King County Metro Transit admits the advertisements may be somewhat controversial and some citizens could be offended, but it will not prevent them from running the ads.
"As a government, we are mindful of the provisions in state and federal constitutions to protect freedom of speech. So, we can't object these campaigns simply because they offend some people," said Thielke.
Metro has been flooded with calls to protest the signs, but as of yet there are no plans to cancel the campaign.