Seattle skyline space needle 311.
(photo credit: AP)
A planned Seattle bus advertising campaign that accused Israel of committing war crimes in the Gaza Strip was rejected by King County Executive Dow Constantine on Thursday.
Constantine said that the escalation of the issue from an advertisement to "a widespread and often vitriolic international debate introduces new and significant security concerns that compel reassessment," in a statement.
Seattle buses to carry ‘Israeli war crimes’ ads
Saying that the proposed ads may have been a potential source of disruption to local public transit, the King County executive implemented an interim policy that bans the Seattle transit service from accepting any new advertising that is non-commercial.
On the same day, officials from Seattle Metro Transit rejected the
anti-Israel ad from the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign
as well as
response ads from two other groups.
"Metro's existing policy restricts advertising that can be reasonably
foreseen to result in harm to, disruption of, or interference with the
transportation system," Constantine said. "Given the dramatic escalation
of debate in the past few days over these proposed ads, and the
submission of inflammatory response ads, there is now an unacceptable
risk of harm to or disruption of service to our customers should these
ads run," the statement added.
The county executive said that he had consulted with "federal and local
law enforcement authorities who have expressed concern, in the context
of this international debate, that our public transportation system
could be vulnerable to disruption."
Addressing the possible free speech implications of such a move,
Constantine said, "We cannot and would not favor one point of view over
another, so the entire category of non-commercial advertising will be
eliminated until a permanent policy can be completed." He added that in
the coming weeks, the local government will attempt to "determine what
constitutionally-valid policy is best" for the public, transportation
system and the Seattle-area community at large.
The planned advertising campaign was to feature various images of
destruction in the Gaza Strip headlined, "Israeli War Crimes: Your tax
dollars at work."
The decision to cancel the anti-Israel campaign followed a meeting
Wednesday between Seattle Jewish community leaders and officials from the King
County Executive office, as well as widespread protest from US Jewish
groups and communities.