King County Executive Prevents "Israeli War Crimes" bus ads from appearing
Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign 27 December 2010
Press Release - 24 December 2010
The upcoming Metro bus ad campaign by Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign has been cancelled by the King County Executive. The Campaign will hold a outdoor press conference at noon Friday in front of the King County Administration Bldg.
The bus ads, with the message “ISRAELI WAR CRIMES: Your Tax Dollars At Work” had been approved and accepted by King County officials several weeks before. The Seattle Mideast Awareness Coalition had signed a contract, paid the complete amount – over $3000 – and the ads themselves had been printed and delivered to Metro Transit for affixing to 12 buses.
Israeli War Crimes Advert on side of bus (King 5 News depiction)
Several groups purporting to represent the Jewish community mounted a campaign to prevent King County from putting up the ads. Their campaign included overwhelming Metro and King County phone lines and email boxes, raising the threat of potential violence against both community members and buses themselves, and making defamatory claims about the ads and the advertisers.
King County Executive Dow Constantine announced that the ad would not “be accepted” late in the afternoon on Thursday, citing potential disruptions and safety hazards to the Metro system.
“The ad itself is not disrupting Metro Transit operation and services,” says Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign member Edward Mast. “The ad is not causing a public safety hazard. Those who want the ad silenced mounted a campaign to disrupt Metro and generate threats. It’s disturbing that King County has given in to those who want to stop free speech with intimidation tactics.”
Local human rights activist and Jewish-American Peter Lippman said, “The State of Israel is not the same as the Jewish people, and Israel should be subject to criticism like any other state. These groups that insist on suppressing free speech about Israel do not represent many, many Jews in this country.”
Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign maintains that the ad slogan contains facts, not rhetoric, and that war crimes by Israel have been widely documented.
After Israel’s three-week military offensive against the captive population of Gaza in 2008-9, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,400 Palestinians -- most of them non-combatants and more than 300 of them children -- a formal inquiry by the United Nations found grounds for a criminal investigation into war crimes by Israel. The UN report concluded that Israel’s assault was not in self-defense, but was “a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population”.
In a report published on July 2, 2009, Amnesty International found evidence that Israeli soldiers used Palestinian civilians as human shields. Israeli soldiers have testified publicly to other human rights violations.
Several experts have made themselves available for press contact.
For more information about Israel/Palestine, human rights, war crimes and international law, please contact:
Professor of Politics & International Studies; Chair, Middle Eastern Studies Program
Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies; Fellow of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam
For information about US funding of Israel, contact:
National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli
Local residents who have recently visited Israel, the West Bank or Gaza:
"You cannot simplify the question of violence.. You look at human history - the American revolution, the civil war, the end of slavery in the United States, the African National Congress, the end of colonialism - by and large these were some combination of popular social uprisings and social movements and non-violent protests AND armed resistance. Now that doesn't mean I'm advocating for any armed action today, I'm not. I'm committed to finding ways of acting and speaking and making people laugh and doing art and disrupting the war machine in other ways, but I think focusing on violence when we have the comfort of being protected by mass of armed violence is not non-violence at all.. if you are pointing to the mass of violence and who's doing the mass of violence in the world today, you have to look to state violence - that's people bombing whole cities from the air.. "