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Video: ‘One Word’ ad campaign banned by Boston Metro — again

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There was a big shebang in Boston yesterday over the Palestine Advocacy Project’s massively popular “ONE WORD” ad campaign at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Fiscal and Management Control Board public meeting. The ad features the image of a young Palestinian girl along with statistics about the devastating violence inflicted by the Israeli government on Palestinian children.  A banner at the bottom of the poster reads, “Stop U.S. military aid to Israel.”

Reportedly discussion of the ad “turned the MBTA meeting into a forum on global affairs and free speech.” There’s been tons of press about these ads. Since the ads went back up on the subway walls this month (after being pulled by the transit authority in June 2014 for being “demeaning” and a long drawn out battle ensued) — an anti-Palestinian organization called Americans for Peace and Tolerance, possibly affiliated with Pamela Geller’s Islamophobic “American Freedom Defense Initiative” (ADFI), have been viciously protesting the ads and local coverage has been persistent.

The MBTA management board (locally known as “the T”) heard public testimony before a vote on Monday afternoon and the T decided to ban political issue advertising on the transit system. A new advertising policy is going into effect midnight Nov. 30 — the ads are coming down.

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Simultaneously, Bostonians visited the State House yesterday protesting ten of their state senators heading off to Israel. As Boston Business Journal noted, the Israel/Palestinian conflict surfaced “as a central theme in two protests” on Monday — which is a great thing as far as we’re concerned. Even Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker weighed in on the action prior to the vote stating he didn’t want to prejudice the board’s decision but “I certainly think it’s an appropriate conversation for the fiscal management and control board to have and I wouldn’t be disappointed if they decided that we were going to get out of the business of supporting politically charged advertising.”

And everything spilled over at the crammed press junket post-meeting, with vicious accusations against Palestine Advocacy Project board member Richard Colbath-Hess, who said public spaces should be used to fuel debate. “He’s the cousin of Hitler“, the yelling and shouting ensued as Colbath-Hess answered reporters questions after the T’s Board meeting.  Here’s a glimpse of the havoc yesterday, Colbath-Hess is amazing in this video. How he can keep such composure and stay on message with this angry mob surrounding him and the reporters is astounding:

Here’s some of the local coverage. WGBH reports, Tired Of Conflict And Lawsuits, MBTA Board Bans Political Ads 

According to the T, the advertising policy change has been in the works for weeks, but it gained urgency after a pro-Palestinian group recently placed an ad claiming that the Israeli military kills Palestinian children using U.S. tax dollars…..

Some members of the local Jewish community say the ad defamed all Jews and want it to come down.

“It’s a piece of incitement, and we don’t need Jews being stabbed here in Boston,” Charles Jacobs from the pro-Israel organization Americans for Peace and Tolerance told reporters after the public comment period of the T’s Fiscal and Management Control Board meeting…..

“The T is a public place. It should have public debate. This is good for the American public,” said Richard Colbath-Hess, a board member for the Palestine Advocacy Project, the group that sponsored the ad. Colbath-Hess said that pro-Israeli groups should get their own ad so both sides can be in the public view.

Boston Business Journal MBTA bans political ads as protesters focus on Israeli-Palestinian conflict

He was subjected to shouting from his ideological opponents.

“He’s the cousin of Hitler,” said Daniel Hermon, slapping Colbath-Hess on the back. Hermon also joined those yelling over Colbath-Hess as he spoke to reporters…..

Paul Fleishman compared the ad — which depicts a girl in pigtails standing outdoors — to Islamic State recruitment and used it to disparage Palestinian children in comments to the control board.

“If it would be a real Palestinian girl it would have a suicide vest on her. That’s how I know this is probably not a Palestinian girl,” Fleishman said.


To catch readers up, after the ads were pulled by MBTA in 2014 (we reported here), the decision was widely criticized. Attorneys Howard Cooper and Ben Wish of Todd & Weld, cooperating attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Massachusetts, represented the Palestine Advocacy Project challenging the censorship, asserting that ads critical of government policies did not violate the MBTA’s advertising rules, and were protected by the First Amendment. They were in successful in urging the MBTA to restore the ads.

Earlier this month on November 6, MBTA agreed to display the Palestine Advocacy Project’s ONE WORD ads and the project chose to re-run just one of the removed ads at the T’s Davis Station for the month of November. At that time several new ads were scheduled for display in December.

Make no mistake, the Palestine Advocacy Project is quite determined to continue on their mission to inform the American public. In fact both the Boston Globe and the New York Times have reached out to them in the past 24 hours to make it clear they welcome their ads. Hence, they are exploring opportunities with both. 

They’ve informed me the public transportation advertising campaign they plan on launching early next year should meet the MBTA’s new requirements.  “We are working with an amazing animator on some really compelling web content and studying how best to use digital display advertising (like banner ads)”

Sarah Wunsch, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, noted that the organization has successfully pushed the MBTA over many years to allow the display of ads that some consider controversial.

“In a free society, we understand that people may see things in public places with which they disagree. But the government should not be in the business of restricting the free flow of ideas in space that is set up for expression, like advertising space, simply to protect the sensibilities of those who can avert their eyes if they don’t like what they see.”

“We certainly share the discomfort many cities have expressed toward some of the ads pro-Israel organizations have submitted as of late,” said Palestine Advocacy Project President Jake Chase-Lubitz in reference to a recent case against New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, “but we believe that our right to advocate responsibly and compassionately for Palestinian rights is worth protecting. We have an obligation to present the reality in Palestine to Americans and we’re glad that the MBTA has accepted our ads.”

As always, people who support the work the Palestine Advocacy Project is doing and want to contribute should visit their website.

Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is a mom, a human rights activist, and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area and likes to garden. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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14 Responses

  1. annie on November 24, 2015, 6:36 pm

    there are only about 100 views on this video. i don’t know how he does it — just amazing. i am in awe.

  2. Kay24 on November 24, 2015, 7:02 pm

    You can see just how rabid they are in supporting the country they are brainwashed into thinking must be protected from, in this case criticism. They are most probably American citizens, but it seems do not seem to adhere to the constitution, when they protest against free speech that condemns Israel’s crimes and brings focus to the murders of civilians.

    When it comes to Geller posters and attacks on Muslims, they don’t seem to get so outraged.

  3. Kris on November 24, 2015, 8:23 pm

    And everything spilled over at the crammed press junket post-meeting, with vicious accusations against Palestine Advocacy Project board member Richard Colbath-Hess, who said public spaces should be used to fuel debate. “He’s the cousin of Hitler“, the yelling and shouting ensued as Colbath-Hess answered reporters questions after the T’s Board meeting. Here’s a glimpse of the havoc yesterday, Colbath-Hess is amazing in this video. How he can keep such composure and stay on message with this angry mob surrounding him and the reporters is astounding:

    Mr. Colbath-Hess really is absolutely amazing in this video. He is remarkably calm and pleasant as he speaks, even though he is surrounded by a hostile crowd, presumably Jewish, who keep trying to talk over him, and keep calling him “kapo.”

    These people, who already knew that Mr. Colbath-Hess is the son of a Holocaust survivor, were being as hateful and nasty as possible.

    A kapo or prisoner functionary (German: Funktionshäftling, see § Etymology) was a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp who was assigned by the SS guards to supervise forced labor or carry out administrative tasks in the camp.

    Also called “prisoner self-administration”, the prisoner functionary system minimized costs by allowing camps to function with fewer SS personnel. The system was designed to turn victim against victim, as the prisoner functionaries were pitted against their fellow prisoners in order to maintain the favor of their SS guards.

    If they were derelict, they would be returned to the status of ordinary prisoners and be subject to other kapos. Many prisoner functionaries were recruited from the ranks of violent criminal gangs rather than from the more numerous political, religious and racial prisoners; those were known for their brutality toward other prisoners.

    This brutality was tolerated by the SS and was an integral part of the camp system.

    • Marnie on November 26, 2015, 12:00 am

      They cheapen the memory of the actual people who were murdered during the holocaust. The shout of “kapo” really bothered me. Does being a Jew give one carte blanche to say that? Especially a Jew who lives in America? Disgusting.

  4. oldgeezer on November 24, 2015, 8:44 pm

    Neither zuonists nor Israel can withstand the power of free speech nor the light of day. The only way for this immoral state to continue is to curtail our freedoms and subvert our democratic process.

  5. RoHa on November 24, 2015, 8:49 pm

    This article is about the land of the free and the home of the brave, isn’t it?

  6. PeaceThroughJustice on November 24, 2015, 11:16 pm

    Annie wrote, “… just amazing. i am in awe.”

    I know what you mean and I agree.

    But I’m even more in awe at the number of rabid Jewist extremists that seem to always show up at events like this, large or small, all across the country. It’s not at all clear just who’s winning this battle.

    PS, the Palestine Advocacy Project used crowd-funding last year and it was quite successful —

    • Emory Riddle on November 25, 2015, 11:58 am

      Why does everyone roll over for these fanatics? They are obviously deluded. When will we stop enabling them?

  7. lonely rico on November 24, 2015, 11:22 pm

    In April 2013, thanks to the generosity of supporters, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East raised $35,000 to be able to post the “Disappearing Palestine” ads in two Canadian cities, Toronto and Vancouver.
    Under pressure from pro-Israel groups/individuals the transit companies and ad agencies prevented the ads from being posted. In September 2013, CJPME’s legal counsel sent a letter demanding that the transit authorities in question respect its right to post the ads. However, in October 2013 both the transit authorities rejected the ads.
    CJPME did not have the wherewithal to pursue the matter further in the courts.
    It seems it was not appropriate to show the criminal dispossession/disappearance of the Palestinians to the Canadian public.

  8. lyn117 on November 24, 2015, 11:50 pm

    Yes, one of the hecklers told Colbath-Hess that Palestinians should stop teaching hate. As if stating that “real Palestinian girls” would be wearing suicide vests isn’t teaching hate.

  9. Marnie on November 25, 2015, 4:47 am

    What hideous people trying to drown out this man’s humanity. Shame on them!! But this is the zionist way, to deny the rights of non-Jews and kill them when they protest. This crowd looked to be out for blood also. Zionism = nazism = ISIS.

  10. Qualtrough on November 25, 2015, 11:56 am

    Colbath-Hess: I find calling Palestinians savages disturbing.
    Female Voice: But they are!
    Male Voice: Calling the death of 2,000 children out of context [sic] is disturbing!

    One of the things that frightens me the most is that when JSIL eventually collapses the counterparts to these protesters (‘settlers’ aka occupiers) living there will flock to the US. God help us then.

  11. Ossinev on November 25, 2015, 1:01 pm

    I found the most ” poignant ” moment in the video was when a fairly weak voiced female in the RentaZionist crowd piped up twice “stop hating Jews “. I don`t think for a moment that she actually took on board the fact that Richard Colbath – Hess was saying that he was Jewish and that he was telling her that his father was a Holocaust survivor. Like the others in the crowd she had obviously swallowed a few Zionaline pills prior to going to the meeting and then went into Hasbara brainwashed mode which disables the perception system.

    By contrast Colbath- Hess came across as a model of real Judaism – informed , intellectual and despite the rants of the hecklers quietly determined to present his arguments and welcoming rational debate from those who disagreed with him.

    The more Americans see these morons , particularly younger Americans , the more they are likely to question why they have such a control over their country.

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