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.
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 to “Israel’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, StopFundingApartheid.org 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.
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.