Thursday, February 10, 2011

Battle over Mideast transit ads heating up across U.S.

When we last blogged about this issue (CLICK HERE), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Washington State was about to sue King County (Washington) after it censored bus ads, sponsored by the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign (a US Campaign member group), spotlighting how U.S. military aid to Israel enables its war crimes against Palestinians.

By Ben Harris, February 8, 2011

NEW YORK (JTA) -- With public bickering over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict already having spilled over into university student senates, corporate pension boards and even local farmers markets, the latest battlefield in the debate over the conflict is municipal transit systems.

In several major U.S. cities, advertisements on public buses and municipal rail stations are designed to galvanize public opinion to end U.S. military aid to Israel or to pressure Palestinians to end anti-Jewish incitement. In some cases, the ads have been deemed so inflammatory that local authorities have tried to restrict or ban them outright, leading to frustration on both sides and, in one case, a federal lawsuit.

A group calling itself the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign, with the help of the local American Civil Liberties Union chapter, filed a lawsuit in Seattle last month charging that the group's First Amendment rights were violated when the local transit system reneged on an agreement to carry its ad opposing aid to Israel.