‘This is war propaganda, and you are the target’–latest anti-Muslim subway ads get another makeover

ActivismIsrael/PalestineUS Politics
on 36 Comments
Subway 4
At the 50th Street subway stop in Manhattan, a Pam Geller advertisement is plastered with a “caution” sticker. It reads: “This is War Propaganda. You’re the Target”

The latest installment of anti-Muslim advertisements put out by Pamela Geller have gone up in New York City subway stations. But they have quickly received a makeover, just as the last batch did.

Activists plastered stickers over the ads that read: “This is War Propaganda, and You’re the Target.”

Subway 9
A shot of a sticker at the 23rd street station in Manhattan

Another source reports that when activists were having trouble reaching the ads above the subway platform, a tall woman waiting for the train put it up for them. The activists told her it was illegal but she didn’t care–she had seen the advertisement and was offended.

Here’s another photo:

Subway 5
At the 50th Street subway stop in Manhattan, another one of Pam Geller’s ad is plastered with a “warning” sticker. It reads: “This is War Propaganda. You’re the Target”

Activists also hit another subway station, on 23rd street:

Subway 8
Another sticker plastered on an anti-Muslim ad, at the 23rd street station”

Here’s a statement a source sent over explaining why activists took this action:

This evening, concerned New Yorkers came together to respond to a new set of advertisements placed in many of their city’s subway stations by the notoriously chauvinistic “American Freedom Defense Initiative” (AFDI), headed by the right-wing anti-Muslim activist, Pamela Geller.

The new ads, in which Geller’s organization has reportedly invested about $70,000, feature a photo of the World Trade Center exploding in flames next to a quote from the Qur’an. Concerned New Yorkers engaged these ads by labeling them with stickers that resembled bright caution or warning signs reading, “This is War Propaganda, and You’re the Target”.

One participant, who works as a filmmaker, explained, “These ads must be understood as war propaganda that target regular Americans, the public that is exposed to them.” He continued, “Yes, the ads are clearly hateful and racist. But the additional thing to realize is that by vilifying and dehumanizing Muslims, they work to conscript people into supporting the U.S. government’s ongoing covert and overt wars, and the related violence and injustices suffered by Muslims here in the United States.”

A law student added, “Muslim communities in the United States not only endure the everyday experience of humiliating racism, but are subjected to expansive and illegitimate government surveillance, along with egregiously unjust detentions and prosecutions in U.S. prisons and courts. These new ads work as propaganda to facilitate and support violence against Muslims in the United States and abroad.”

Another woman, who is a scholar and an artist, followed, “It’s abominable that these ads exploit the real suffering that fellow New Yorkers bore the day the twin towers burned to continue to incite more violence against more people. Rather than allow New York City’s experience of such suffering to generate empathy for the suffering of other people in other cities facing attacks, whether by U.S. drone strikes or other means, and seek to end such violence, they absurdly conjure Americans as innocent victims who have no choice but to be violent in a violent world.”

A human rights researcher concluded, “Over the past eleven years, the U.S. government’s response to the day photographed in these ads has resulted in the killing and maiming of hundreds of thousands of people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and beyond, along with tens of thousands of Americans. The United States has also threatened the Iranian people with war, and already begun a devastating campaign of sanctions against them that is effectively a war against a people by other means. … As New Yorkers we want to make clear that the particularly vulgar manifestation of vicious racism and militarism in these ads is not welcome in our city. But more broadly, we are committed to ending ongoing U.S. wars, both for the sake of people on the receiving end of American belligerence and bombs, and to secure the possibility of a meaningful democracy and livable future for us all.”

Another shot:

Subway 6

Activists also traveled to the West 4th station in Greenwich village:

Subway 11

And here are the signs themselves, clear as can be:

Caution Sign by Alex Kane

Warning Sign by Alex Kane

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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36 Responses

  1. stardust
    January 9, 2013, 1:47 am

    Pamela has been fomenting generalized hatred of Muslims among a section of the rigthtwing through her vile ads. She claims there have been hundreds of Islamist attacks on American soil after 9/11 and has a gullible audience that has bought into the manufactured stories of the underwear bomber, Times sq bomber, Vancouver Xmas bomber – all cases involving clueless patsies set up and equipped by the FBI.

  2. seafoid
    January 9, 2013, 3:18 am

    The sad thing is that “casting terror into the hearts” of the people of Gaza is the raison d’etre of the IDF.

    What a mess.

  3. Basilio
    January 9, 2013, 5:26 am

    Has Pamela Geller read the Old Testament? There are plenty of controversial statements that can be taken literally to justify ethnic cleansing.

    • Avi_G.
      January 9, 2013, 7:25 am

      Basilio says:
      January 9, 2013 at 5:26 am
      There are plenty of controversial

      The problem with this so-called “ad” is two-fold:

      1. In Arabic, the verse in question contains the plural noun, “Mushrikoon”, which means, “polytheists”. So neither Islam nor the writings in the Qur’an, nor Muhammad consider(ed) Jews and Christians to be “unbelievers”.

      Not only did Geller mis-translate the original from Arabic, but she took the liberty to play Orientalist and decide for Moslems and Islam who is the “unbeliever” and who isn’t.

      2. There are statements in the Old Testament that are not quite “controversial”, but blatantly genocidal.

      For example, how would Jewish hacks like Geller feel if someone put up ads that cited excerpts from the Book of Joshua and compared the scorched-earth advocacy to the Israeli army’s actions over the last 65 years?

      The irony, however, is that the only terror that has managed to strong-arm the United States and its leadership on a grand scale and for so long is that of the Israel Lobby. Because of the Israel Lobby, no politician, no general, no celebrity or artist dares question the extortion that which Israel is behind. And that is the real terror, whether it’s the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty, or the incessant “anti-Semite” screeches.

      The Israel Lobby strikes terror into the hearts of the “unbelievers”, alright. Yet those “unbelievers'” only ‘crime’ is that they did not — and do not — believe the Hasbara and the lies.

      • aiman
        January 9, 2013, 7:54 am

        Also worth adding that the worst offenders in Islam are hypocrites from among the Muslims themselves (a whole chapter is dedicated to them) and it is reported that they will earn the lowest depths of hell fire. Muhammad even said: “The greatest enemies of God are those who are entered into Islam, and do acts of infidelity, and who without cause, shed the blood of man.” Muhammad also said: “Feed the hungry and visit the sick, and free the captive if he be unjustly confined. Assist any person oppressed, whether Muslim or non-Muslim.” This effort to paint Islam as darkness itself both by Muslim hypocrites and the Gellers of this world is predicated on ignorance of the religion and political opportunism. Muhammad Abduh has already addressed these matters in ‘The Theology of Unity’.

        Islam positions paganism as ignorance, monotheism redeeming man, acts such as burying infant girls alive are considered ignorance of old before man is emancipated ethically through Divine guidance and rational evolution to consider the message, with the One God of all asking the child for what crime she was slain. Contemporary actions such as honour killing continued by populations would not meet the litmus test of belief if one considers it intelligently.

      • Abu Malia
        January 9, 2013, 6:19 pm

        You are absolutely right – as i understand it. the Munaafiqeen (hypocrites) are promised the worst of hell. Aren’t the Mushrikoons idolators and not people of the book, i.e. Jews and Christians?

      • aiman
        January 11, 2013, 7:06 am

        Yes idolators, but not all idolators. Verses such as the above refer to the persecution meted out to the fledgling Muslim community by the polytheists. I think Islam is very clear: all human beings are to be respected and God alone is the Judge. Religion cannot be coerced and no human being can be cursed.

        The Qur’an endears itself to “believers who do good deeds”, and only once refers to Muslims and that to correct them by saying that they should not call themselves believers. Clearly the Qur’an is a deep book and I believe it has not been understood as it should be.

      • Walid
        January 11, 2013, 7:56 am

        Aiman, whether polytheists or idolators, where is it talked about them in the verse and in which Quran is “Mushrikoon” mentioned in 3:151?

        You said, ” verses such as the above refer to the persecution meted out to the fledgling Muslim community by the polytheists”. The way I read it, it was the other way around.

      • aiman
        January 11, 2013, 9:04 am

        Waleed, you may read it whichever way you like. The verse following this refers to the battle of Uhud. And also chastises the Muslims for their weak faith. It is within that context. Interestingly Muhammad Asad’s translation uses the word “dread”.

        I was replying to Abu Malia, I didn’t use the word “Mushrikoon”, perhaps you need to take that up with the relevant person.

  4. eGuard
    January 9, 2013, 5:49 am

    What is the risk when one is caught stickering? I mean, clearly the advertisements are under a “Zero tolerance” regime.

  5. Kathleen
    January 9, 2013, 8:23 am

    The activist explanation of why they put up the caution stickers is so clear and concrete. Honorable that they are putting those stickers on those hateful and inflammatory posters. Just amazing that Geller and her group are getting away with this. Seems like a case for the ACLU or some other human rights law group.

  6. hophmi
    January 9, 2013, 11:49 am

    Terrible. And it’s just as terrible when Mondoweiss makes the same types of arguments about Judaic texts.

    • Annie Robbins
      January 9, 2013, 2:52 pm

      hophmi, i don’t recall mondoweiss covering judaic texts. do you mean something marc ellis or rabbi brant may have written? or are you referring to a conversation in the comment section?

    • Ellen
      January 9, 2013, 4:46 pm

      hophmi, can you cite where on Mondoweiss Judaic texts are used to make such arguments?

      Or are you pulling out the ‘ole “you do it too!” or “everyone else does it!” or “look at them over there” to divert from the seriousness of Geller’s hate campaign?

    • Mooser
      January 9, 2013, 6:17 pm

      “Terrible. And it’s just as terrible when Mondoweiss makes the same types of arguments about Judaic texts.”

      Yes, there were some very harsh things said in the “Exodus” thread. I hope the standards are higher when we discuss “Fiddler” and “Milk and Honey”.

    • talknic
      January 9, 2013, 6:27 pm

      hophmi when Mondoweiss makes the same types of arguments about Judaic texts”

      Quote Mondoweiss … verbatim … thx

      No quote, you apologize. OK?

    • Mndwss
      January 9, 2013, 6:38 pm

      “Terrible. And it’s just as terrible when Mondoweiss makes the same types of arguments about Judaic texts.”

      I argee that it is trerrible, but your comment is horrible.

      This is a jewish/israeli mis-translation of Arabic text. (Acording to Avi_G.)

      What i find horrible about your comment is that you only had one word to describe the horror that is Pamela. And then you used 16 words to attack the messenger.

      Do you also often shoot the piano player?

      • Mooser
        January 10, 2013, 3:13 pm

        “Do you also often shoot the piano player?”

        While Hophmi can pardon pianists, he’s always ready to take a shot at the organist.

        “I argee that it is trerrible…” And we agree that Hophmi never bothered to show that it is actually happening.

    • FreddyV
      January 10, 2013, 6:02 am

      Dude, why do you bother posting such lame crap?

      Pam Geller is a racist cnut and is doing Israel or Zionism no favours whatsoever with her evil vitriol, but here you are trying to make some kind of false equivalence argument in which you seem to suggest Mondoweiss is as guilty as she is of distortion.

      • chinese box
        January 10, 2013, 8:51 am

        He’s just trying to divert the thread with this hit and run post. Unfortunately you guys are all helping him by responding to his drivel.

      • Mooser
        January 11, 2013, 3:36 pm

        “Unfortunately you guys are all helping him by responding to his drivel.”

        Gotta play fair. It’s only fair to remind Hophmi he somehow omitted including anything which might substantiate his malicious fantasies about Mondo. Sure, it’s been two days, and he hasn’t come up with so much as a single line, but I have faith in Hophmi. Before it’s over he’ll link to one of my comments and say it’s a bud libel.

  7. Chu
    January 9, 2013, 12:28 pm

    It’s awful that Muslims have to deal with this ugly racism right in midtown and downtown. If this were some old testament quote, taken out of context, which painted Jews in a harsh light, it would be front page news for CNN, NYTimes, the Post, y’all know I could go on. The crying would go on for weeks.

    What an ugly realm New York City really is when you peel back the layers of power.
    Maybe Abe Foxman can put a statement up on the ADL website about this!

    Pam Geller is such a lame-ass agitator with this dated bolshevik agit-prop material.

    • Woody Tanaka
      January 9, 2013, 3:15 pm

      Abe Foxman?? That fat old bigot is probably the one who put it together, to judge by his reaction to the NYC mosque a few years ago.

      • Chu
        January 10, 2013, 10:26 am

        yeah, not a peep about it on his website this morning. But he’s agreeing with Obama’s nomination of Hagel. Here’s his last line: “I particularly hope Senator Hagel will clarify and explain his comments about the “Jewish Lobby” that were hurtful to many in the Jewish Community.”
        ‘Hurtful’ is an unusual choice of words in the political realm. I don’t think there is any sympathy left to milk when it comes to Israel and it’s American lobby.

  8. piotr
    January 9, 2013, 5:40 pm

    Do not think that I came to bring peace on Earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother…

    Christians will recognize the quote. Old Testament seems the best source of blood curdling passages, and Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) clearly was familiar with both Old and New Testament, and did not originate the idea of divinely ordained strife.

    How theologians interpret that strife is a very complex issue. For example, unbelievers may be awed by the magnificence of the Message and the solidarity and pius example of the faithful, not unlike the Gospels are usually interpreted as the Word overriding old rules like filial obedience and traditional Jewish Law.

  9. chris_k
    January 9, 2013, 6:16 pm

    I haven’t seen an article dealing with the rationale that the transit authority allows these ads because of the first amendment. That seems like a lie in deference to a prominent politician in town. Would the transit authority allow any ad in the transit authority? Would they allow pornography site ads? because I’m sure there are sites that have the budget and willingness to run an ad there.

    A good test of this would be for people to take up a collection to run an ad on the subway, or a cheaper public place in NYC, with a photoshopped Pam Geller performing lewd acts with a Muslim man, and see how serious they are about allowing any sort of content. Even short of such a provocation, the transit authority should be held accountable personally for fomenting racism, as a Muslim man has already been pushed to his death since the campaign began.

    • chris_k
      January 9, 2013, 6:30 pm

      That image would also make a good sticker.

    • chris_k
      January 9, 2013, 6:39 pm

      Just researched it a bit, and Bloomberg says there is a court order that allows the ads, that it’s not the MTA’s fault or his, though the article didn’t specify which court. It would be interesting to see if the court ruled the same way about other kinds of content. Also, Bloomberg publicly defended Pam Geller on the issue of the Islamic center, which this site probably covered when it happened.

  10. gingershot
    January 9, 2013, 8:07 pm

    I love these ‘Caution Stickers’ – this is just such a simple response to Geller’s hate speech. It just flips her whole agenda on it’s a**

    I can just hope Mona Eltahawy got her chance – so much faster than spray paint!

    Can’t you just see the simmer on Pam Geller’s face when she goes to take pictures for her website?

  11. gingershot
    January 9, 2013, 8:26 pm

    Geller has a photo of the ‘stickered’ ads up at her website – here’s her post:

    “Look at the extraordinary lengths the jihadists and their enablers are going to in order to suppress the truth. The sticker says: “This is war propaganda and you are the target.”

    The fact is that the quran IS war propaganda, and YOU are the target. They have no idea how very right they are”

  12. thankgodimatheist
    January 9, 2013, 10:50 pm

    “Soon shall we cast terror in the hearts”
    You realise how vile and manipulative this is when you know that ‘ru’b’ means ‘fear/extreme fear’ not ‘terror’ which is irhab, non-existent in the Quranic text.
    The fact that some translations even made by Muslims themselves mention terror instead of ‘fear/extreme fear’ doesn’t mean it’s accurate. This is very important now as the word terror has gained a modern context no way near what it had at the time.

  13. Walid
    January 10, 2013, 3:53 am

    Transliteration of Quran 3:151
    “Sanulqee fee quloobi allatheena kafaroo alrruAAba bima ashrakoo biAllahi ma lam yunazzil bihi sultanan wama/wahumu alnnaru wabi/sa mathwa alththalimeena ”

    سَنُلْقِي فِي قُلُوبِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ الرُّعْبَ بِمَا أَشْرَكُواْ بِاللّهِ مَا لَمْ يُنَزِّلْ بِهِ سُلْطَانًا
    وَمَأْوَاهُمُ النَّارُ وَبِئْسَ مَثْوَى الظَّالِمِينَ

    Geller’s first problem with the Quranic verse was selecting from it only what seemed a spicy part for Islamophobes to chew on and thus throwing it way out of context. Her second was having selected the translation by Yusuf Ali, one of at least 40 Arabic-English translators of the Quran, that begins with the word, “soon” which is nowhere to be found in the Arabic Quran and evidently improvised by Yusuf Ali to help convey the message, which served Geller’s vile purpose perfectly.

    A relatively acceptable translation of the full verse:
    “We will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve for what they have associated with Allah of which He had not sent down [any] authority. And their refuge will be the Fire, and wretched is the residence of the wrongdoers.”

    In plain language, the translated jargon above is saying that bad things will happen to those that claim that false prophets are being sponsored by God.

    As to “ashrikoo” (Bima ashrikoo) in the verse in Arabic that Geller discarded, since “bi-Allahi” immediately follows it, it makes it the verb “associated” rather than the noun “Mashrikoun” which means “polytheists” and this must have diverted some here.

    About the unbelievers discussed here and in the ads, while Muslims still accept the Jewish and Christian books as legitimate, they believe that some Jews and some Christians have strayed from the original vocations of their religion and have become disbelievers and that these of course will burn in hell. So, in the eyes of Muslims, some Christians and some Jews are disbelievers (as opposed to unbelievers) and as mentioned in the verse as “kafaroo” or “rejectionists”.

    TGIA is right about the mistranslation of the word “al-ru’b” that means “fear” but this is not Geller’s fault but that of most translators that used it for dramatic and spooking effect.

  14. Chu
    January 10, 2013, 11:18 am

    What’s most strange with Muslim Christian relations in the US is that Muslims see Christ as a prophet, not the savior, but a prophet. Whereas Jews see Christ as a false prophet. Yet, the greater bond between the two groups are Jews and Christians. And I think that has to do with who was in the US the longer period of time, as the Muslim is the new outsider.

    I suppose it boils down to political power. The propaganda of Judeo-Christian values sounds like a convenient political term created to join Christians to unify with Jews, although Jews see the Christian savior as a false prophet.

    Does anyone know when Judeo-Christian came into being? I see it was used by Neitzsche in a negative use, but it seems to be a convenient political phrase today.

    • Walid
      January 11, 2013, 8:29 am

      Chu, it wasn’t that long ago, it was only in 1966 that Catholics with Paul VI took the first steps to begin forgiving the Jews for the crucifixion when he ruled that only “some” of the Jews were guilty and not all of them. In 2000, Pope John Paul II took it one step further when he issued the Church’s blanket apology for the church’s historic mistreatment to Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, gypsies and so on. It was only last year that Pope Benedict XVI gave the Jews full exoneration for the crucifixion.

      So it’s as you suspected, they haven’t been that close all along and this Judeo-Christian thing has been a PR campaign more than anything else. A couple of months back, the Vatican was back at it again when its synod concluded that the Jews were NOT the chosen people and that God never promised the land to any one specific people. Abe Foxman blew a fuse about this and shot off a complaint to Vatican but it resulted only in having the Vatican tone down the final language of the 2 resolutions in its Apostolic Exhortation.

  15. edding
    January 10, 2013, 1:58 pm

    It would be a good idea to review the Court order alluded to by Bloomberg. First Amendment rights still exist, even if the playing field for exercising them is tilted, depending on who it is that is “doing the talking”.

    Geller has opened a Pandora’s Box and one that could trigger a frightening anti-semitism just as she has been trying to inspire a fear-ridden anti-Islamic reaction from NYC strap hangers and others. One wonders what the impact would be of subway posters of quotes of violent invocations from the Old Testament and/or similar selected passages from the prayers, together with Rabbi Ovadia’s revealing and disdainful comments about gentiles. Putting them all together with a picture of the rebbe would project a horrendous image, one we would not want to see, but which theoretically would be permissible under the 1st Amendment for all to see, if the courts were consistent. Adding a talking component that would be activated every time someone in a crowded subway brushed against it, or every time a kid wanted to hear a bearded “Hello Kitty”, could give it even more universal appeal.

    Right now there is a lot of anger below the surface, and absent meaningful efforts by those in power to seek and promote accommodation and peace, there is a risk that at some point it could all explode. It’s for the Mayor, biased as he has shown himself to be (e.g., re: Operation Cast Lead), to reach out, diffuse the situation and otherwise exercise his authority in an appropriate way. Whether he will do it is an open question. One’s sense is that he will instead rely on his NYPD, and on Homeland Security, the FBI and his cadre of informers to muzzle the response and intimidate those who protest peacefully, instead of addressing any of the underlying problems. (Where is John Lindsay when we most need him? May he rest in peace, even if the rest of the world is unable to.)

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