ADL Urges King County Metro to Reconsider Allowing Anti-Israel Ads on Seattle Area Buses

Seattle, WA, December 23, 2010 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today urged King County Metro Transit to reconsider its decision to allow anti-Israel advertisements to be affixed to the outside of the city's public buses.

The advertisements, due to run for one month on the sides of 12 King County Metro Transit buses starting December 27, allege that U.S. tax dollars support Israeli "war crimes." Purchased by the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign, the ads are intended to coincide with the 2-year anniversary of Israel's operation in Gaza.

Hilary Bernstein, ADL Pacific Northwest Community Director, issued the following statement:

Using city run buses to propagate dangerous anti-Israel propaganda is an abuse of the free speech rights we all hold so dear. Calling the state of Israel war criminals is not mere criticism of Israel but, as demonstrated around the world in recent years, it is incitement against the Jewish community.

While the community is not of one mind on the subject of Israel, and serious debate takes place over Israeli policy, the messages of the bus ads are not within the parameters of that debate. In fact, they are a lot closer to racist ads which we believe should be rejected as inappropriate for public buses.

Extreme anti-Israel activity and rhetoric have become the new anti-Semitism, sometimes with intent, but if not, at least in terms of the consequences. Only a few years ago an individual forced his way into the Seattle Jewish Federation building and murdered an employee on the grounds that he was "angry at Israel" and blamed Jewish people for all these problems.

In Europe, virulent propaganda flourished against Israel during the war in Gaza in 2008 and led to 220 anti-Semitic incidents in a three week period in the United Kingdom and 113 anti-Semitic incidents in France.

King County Metro Transit already has a policy banning ads "so insulting, degrading or offensive" that they can lead to a "breach of public safety, peace and order."

We believe that is reason enough for the county to reconsider its placement of these ads on metro buses.

The anti-Israel ads were rejected after Metro Transit adopted a new policy to disallow any new non-commercial advertising on King County buses.

ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of anti-Semitism occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.