SEATTLE — A long-running dispute over Pro-Palestinian bus ads in King County, Washington state finally came to some fruition this month as ads were allowed to run on buses, but the message was different from what was originally intended.
The new ads are part of a campaign titled, "I'm a Palestinian," with the saying "equal rights for all” underneath. The messages will run with pictures of everyday Palestinians on 12 Metro Transit buses.
The ads were sponsored by SeaMAC, the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign devoted to the Palestinian cause, which attempted to launch an ad in 2010 with the message, "Israeli war crimes...your tax dollars at work" with a picture of a demolished house by an Israeli military strike.
The 2010 ads were denied by a federal judge on the basis of threats made by those opposed to the ads in a move that drew the ire of the ACLU civil liberties organization, which helped with the legal defense.
The judge said that officials had a reasonable basis for limiting the content of the ads on public buses, citing safety concerns in part because "threats of violence and disruption from members of the public (from e-mails, phone calls, and anonymous photographs) led bus drivers and law enforcement officials to express safety concerns, and the court finds that it was reasonable" for the cancellation of the ads according to court documents.
SeaMAC said that censorship had taken place but was not able to win their court challenge. The new ads are modeled after the similar 'I'm a Mormon' campaign and will run for four weeks while the ACLU continues to represent SeaMAC in its appeal against King County.