Bus ads hitting US aid for Israeli ‘war crimes’ roll in Portland (after ban in Seattle)

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The Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign (SeaMAC) is still plugging away, educating and informing the Pacific Northwest about Israel war crimes and apartheid. Currently, along with Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights and Jewish Voice for Peace – Portland, SeaMac’s running a new ad campaign on Portland’s TriMet buses with the slogan ISRAEL’S WAR CRIMES: YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK. 

The slogan of the current ad is almost identical to the SeaMac bus ad that King County Metro abruptly censored 2010. Readers may recall King County Metro reversed its decision to run the ads on Seattle buses just days before the campaign was to begin on December 27, 2010, the two-year anniversary of Israel’s 2008-2009 Gaza massacre. Metro officials initially examined, approved, and signed a contract before rejecting SeaMAC’s 2010 “Israeli War Crimes: Your Tax Dollars At Work” ad campaign. At the time, the ads were already in print.

This did not deter SeaMAC and since then they’ve funded and produced campaign after campaign after campaign.

In honor of 2014 being International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, SeaMac has been running a series of Nelson Mandela ads on buses in Washington’s Olympic Peninsula: “Our Freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”. Volunteer board member Edward Mast explained, “SeaMAC had moved on to the message of Equal Rights for Palestinians, but this recent escalation of Israel’s war crimes against Palestinians made our original message urgent once more.”

Like the previous ‘Israeli War Crimes: Your Tax Dollars At Work’ campaign, the purpose of the Portland campaign is to raise awareness and call attention toIsrael’s ongoing violations of human rights and international law, including Israel’s recent assault on the captive population of Gaza, during which Israel bombed schools, hospitals, UN-designated shelters, Gaza’s only power plant, and Gaza’s water purification system. ” The current ad also features SeaMAC’s alternate URL,  to draw attention to our tax dollars supporting apartheid.

While it’s difficult to gauge exactly how much of an impact these ads are having, along with similar ads and billboards running in municipalities all across the country, I thought about SeaMAC’s relentless awareness campaigns when I read the results of the recent Google Consumer Survey (interactive), fielded by the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep), indicating that over 60% of Americans think we give Israel too much federal aid. I thought about the political and conscience climate of both urban and rural areas of the country, and wondered how much public opinion had shifted since King County Metro halted SeaMAC’s anniversary campaign almost 4 years ago and the impact of SeaMAC’s ad campaigns in the Pacific Northwest.

Behind the scenes, SeaMAC is waiting for an opinion to be handed down by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that has been pending for 2 years now. SeaMAC is suing for the reinstatement of the ads, plus some minor restitution. The objective is to finally get those ads on King county metro buses.

SeaMAC's original Bus Ad  Censored by King County Metro
SeaMAC’s original bus ad
censored by King County Metro

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Washington is representing SeaMAC in the lawsuit against King County for breach of contract and for violating SeaMAC’s First Amendment right of free expression. A trial in the suit was scheduled to begin in federal district court in October 2011 until King County lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the suit and a federal judge granted King County’s motion. At the time, SeaMAC volunteer Carla Curio noted  “Ads about abortion, atheism and other contentious issues have appeared on Metro buses.  SeaMAC’s ad used language from Amnesty International and the United Nations.  Why should criticism of the State of Israel be singled out for exclusion from buses or any other public forum?”

The Court of Appeals will either direct a verdict or the lawsuit will go back to the trial court to be heard before a jury.

The Portland ads will run for four weeks. SeaMAC is fundraising (here) to put this ad in other cities as well. To view a fuller collection of SeaMAC’s past ad campaigns click here.

Graphic: Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign (SeaMAC)
Graphic: Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign (SeaMAC)
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Portland does it again! This is a great campaign, and a necessary one, in order to break through the droning pro-Israel background music that we’re all subjected to in the US. I think that the more people are made aware of Israel’s conduct and the amount of support that they keep getting from the US taxpayers, the more unjustified the entire set-up will become. Tell me, what was the reason given by the Seattle Transit… Read more »

Folks in the West coast seem to be doing really great work. I also refer to those standing up to Israel and blocking the boats in CA, a wonderful effort I must say. This ad campaign is very welcome at this time, because the Gaza massacre is still fresh in our minds, and it is good to be reminded about what our tax dollars keeps supporting. I am wondering why some of these campaigns do… Read more »

Segregated buses hits the spot nicely.

Good old Jim Crow Judaism. “A top Israeli minister said on Saturday there was a “crisis” in the country’s relations with the United States that must be fixed. Finance minister Yair Lapid’s comments came a day after US officials said the Obama administration refused Israeli defense minister Moshe Yaalon’s requests to meet several top national security aides. The White House and the State Department rejected Israeli proposals for meetings with vice-president Joe Biden, national security adviser Susan Rice and… Read more »

Great ad. If my friend bugs me enough one of these days I’ll make it to Richland. No trip would be complete without seeing Seattle. Best case… No ads and the situation has been resolved with justice. More hopeful case… I get to see some of the ads and they are having a huge impact. The latest lawn mowing exercise has turned more people than I would have thought possible. I just hope no more… Read more »