Op-Ed: Senseless in Seattle
PR experts around the country will verify that it is the bargain of the century. For a mere $1794 a Seattle based anti Israel group, the Mideast Awareness Campaign, has drawn significant media attention to itself by arranging to run ads on King County buses accusing Israel of war crimes. The group’s website, that appears to be constructed by amateur high school students, is brimming with ludicrous diatribe, including accusations against Israel of ethnic cleansing.
Some may argue that the best way to react to such provocation is to ignore it, act bigger, more mature, allow it to waft away and it will all be forgotten. The rationale behind this approach is that more attention can only aggravate the issue bringing yet more media coverage to the twisted ambitions of the perpetrators.
However, I strongly feel that this response is largely misguided. History has shown that it is the passivity of good men that allows for the triumph of evil, and thus non action is a betrayal of the highest order. The Jewish community of Seattle should respond with the full force and let the Hebrew hammer drop on these haters like never before. This group has unwittingly provided an opportunity for the world to be taught the lesson that if you slander the people of the book, you may just get the book thrown at you.
Today boycotts against Israel and Israeli goods are rampant and are orchestrated in every corner of the globe and often are highly detrimental to Israeli companies and educational or other institutions. There can be little doubt that the general timid reactions to a number of these efforts have shown that sponsors of such boycotts consistently get away with spewing this malicious diatribe. As opposition wanes, the message becomes more one sided and is gradually accepted as a narrative of Jewish aggression.
The King County guidelines do not allow “images and material used to interfere with public safety or insult specific groups to the point that a riot could be incited, vandalism could occur or public safety could be threatened.” Clearly these posters haven’t made the cut.
So here are some ideas for a strong Jewish reaction:
A concerted and coordinated aggressive letter writing and call campaign that targets those running the busses and calls for the company to withdraw the anti-Jewish propaganda from their billboards. This includes reaching out to all companies that currently advertise on the buses.
Any members of the Jewish community in Seattle that use the busses to advertise should immediately and publicly withdraw their business in protest.
A libel lawsuit should be filed against the bus company and against the group that arranged for the ads, although it is unlikely that it can be won, the threat of legal action will serve as a deterrent, now, and in the future.
About 10 years ago, Britain was brought to its knees when protesters lay on the road in front of oil tankers preventing them from reaching their designated destinations. Courageous young Jews should locate the garages where the busses are stored and in a similar fashion, preventing the busses from circulating their hateful message.
Although these efforts may be unsuccessful in preventing the ads from seeing daylight, it is crucially important that people know that those wishing to publicize their hateful propaganda, will not go unopposed, they and their partners will be held accountable.
If the Jewish community is to be effective in eradicating the viral spread of Israeli defamation and Antisemitism, it must be combated aggressively, immediately and in a comprehensive fashion. Lies grow, and Jewish history has shown that the actions they inspire are often calamitous.