The other day we reported that the Boston transit authority had pulled down ads demonstrating the loss of Palestinian lands to Israel since the creation of the Jewish state. Well, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation authority (MBTA) has been shamed for censorship, and is putting the ads back up.
In Lisa Wangsness and Martine Powers’s reporting for the Boston Globe, notice how little was required to cause the outdoor advertising agency to censor the ads– from the evidence, just a call from the Anti-Defamation League, which was then informed the ads were coming down. “There was a breakdown in our established procedures for handling complaints about specific ads,” the MBTA sheepishly told the Globe.
The MBTA said Friday morning that all 80 posters had been taken down Wednesday and Thursday, just a few days after being posted. The transit agency said its advertising contractor, Titan, made the decision.
“The MBTA informed Titan of the complaints and Titan decided to remove the ad,” said Joe Pesaturo, spokesman for the agency….
Robert Trestan, New England regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, said his group had informed the MBTA about the numerous complaints it had received about the ads. He said the ADL did not ask the T to remove the ads, but the agency told the ADL that the ads were coming down.
Trestan was sharply critical of the ads’ content.
“The billboards are intentionally designed to mislead the public, and they are part of an ongoing anti-Israel campaign that distorts the issues by oversimplifying the facts around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”..
Jewish Voice for Peace stood up for the ads, and so did the ACLU. The JVP statement reads in part:
“As Palestinians lose land, they also lose their homes, villages, freedom of movement, and access to basic resources like farmland and water. We must acknowledge the reality in these maps in order to create justice, equality, and security for Palestinians and Israelis.”
And the Globe talked to the ACLU:
Sarah Wunsch, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts who has worked on previous cases in which the ACLU has successfully sued the MBTA for blocking ads, said removing the ads amounted to “pure censorship of political speech.” She praised the transit system for changing course.