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King County Metro

January 12, 2011 by staff 

King County Metro, (AFP) – Peace activists are planning to display ads Seattle anti-Israel on the sides of commuter buses in protest against U.S. support for the Jewish state, prompting outcry from Jewish groups.

Banners show for Palestinian children standing around a demolished building, with the caption “Israeli war crimes. Your tax dollars at work”

A group called the Middle East Seattle campaign paid 1,794 dollars from King County to plaster ads on the sides of 12 buses from Monday to coincide with the anniversary of three years from the start of Israel’s war with the Gaza Strip.

Ads are due to a period of four weeks.

Operation Lead Cast launched by Israel in response to hundreds of rockets fired into the Jewish state, killed 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians. Thirteen Israelis, including 10 soldiers also died.

In a website created to accompany the ads, stop30billion-seattle.org, Seattle activist Ed Mast said he was protesting against a promise of 2007 by the United States to give 30 billion dollars in military aid to Israel during the next decade.

“The Middle East Seattle awareness campaign is launching the advertising campaign aimed at ensuring equal rights for Palestinians and Israelis, and the end of U.S. military aid to Israel, which continues to a time of economic crisis and severe budget cuts that have resulted in massive unemployment, “the website said.

A UN report on the battle both sides accused of war crimes. Israel has condemned the report, written by a Jewish South African judge, saying he was antisemitic.

In Seattle, the proposed bus advertisements led to more than 2,000 calls and e-mails to the Department of Transportation King County – most of them opposing the move – according to the spokeswoman Linda Thielke.

Earlier this week, King County Councilmember Peter Von Reichbauer sent a letter to the Chief Executive Dow Constantine County asking that the ads be pulled.

Von Reichbauer refers to a July 28, 2006 shooting in the building of the Jewish Federation of Seattle that left one woman dead.

“Now, I ask why a system of public transport advertising polarizing political statements,” he added.

Bus advertising guidelines prohibit advertisements of tobacco products and alcohol, or anything sexually explicit statements that are so offensive, they are likely to “incite or produce imminent lawless action in the form of reprisals, acts of vandalism or a breach of security, peace and public order. ”

In a written statement, Constantine said he requested a review of the policy of King County Metro Transit bus ads on non-commercial use.

But he acknowledged that there was little authorities could do to stop the ads to go forward.

“Our lawyers have repeatedly said that Metro is legally limited in its ability to accept or reject any advertisement based on the identity of the group purchasing of advertising, or the message,” writes Constantine.

But this has not prevented a group calling itself the American Freedom Defense Initiative to propose two ads to counter anti-Israel campaign.

“A billion dollars to Hamas: Your tax dollars at work,” reads an advertisement by the group Stop Islamization of America program. It shows scenes of anti-Israel and anti-US rallies organized by the Islamist movement Hamas, which rules the small coastal enclave of Gaza.

Another reads “In any war between civilized and savage, the support of the civilized man: Support for Israel, Islamic Jihad defeat”

The ads feature photomontages of what appears to be Hamas activists, a Palestinian scarf hid including children with blood stained hands of Hitler and taking arms and shoulders of a man whose face and head.

Copyright © 2011 AFP. All rights reserved.

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