Seattle’s King County Metro Transit officials announced on Thursday that they have decided to halt all new non-commercial ads, The Seattle Times reported.
This includes a controversial ad campaign which claimed that Israel committed war crimes in Gaza.
The campaign, sponsored by the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign, would have seen twelve buses carrying an ad reading “Israeli War Crimes: Your tax dollars at work”. The ads were supposed to show an image of a group of Arab children, with one little boy staring out at the viewer while the others gawk at a demolished building.
The ad was to have appeared on the buses on December 27, the second anniversary of the beginning of the IDF’s counter terror Operation Cast Lead.
The announced campaign resulted in a huge backlash, with pro-Israel group StandWithUs alerting its supporters worldwide to the planned campaign and asking them to send e-mail messages protesting the campaign to the King County Council members and to the Metro bus company.
The David Horowitz Freedom Center announced a counter campaign which would have seen ads that read “Palestinian War Crimes: Your Tax Dollars At Work” with pictures of Israeli bus passengers killed by Arab suicide bombers during the Second Intifada. The children of Sderot and kibbutzim around the border with Gaza running to shelters as Gazan launched missiles fall on their Negev town might have been another idea.
Seattle’s KING5 TV, which first reported on the controversial ad campaign, quoted King County Executive Dow Constantine who cited possible bus service disruption as the reason for the cancellation.
“My job is to deliver essential services to the people of King County, including transit service,” said Constantine. “I have consulted with federal and local law enforcement authorities who have expressed concern, in the context of this international debate, that our public transportation system could be vulnerable to disruption.”
Metro officials told KING5 that non-commercial advertising will temporarily be added to the list of currently restricted ad campaigns, with the exception of certain government ads. Constantine added that by the end of January further work will be done to determine a sound policy that abides by First Amendment rights and protects Metro passenger safety.