On Dec. 27, a number of ads vilifying Israel for "war crimes" are scheduled to appear on buses in the Seattle area.
From KING 5
"A group calling itself the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign has paid King County $1,794 so that 12 buses will carry that message around town, starting two days after Christmas. That's December 27: the two-year anniversary of Israeli attacks on Gaza, aimed at stopping rocket attacks and weapons smuggling."
The Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign is an offshoot of the US Campaign to end the Occupation. Ed Mast, a spokesperson for the group has been involved with a variety of anti-Israel groups , including the International Solidarity Movement.
From the website Family Security Matters:
Seven years ago, Mast was an activist with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), and more recently he has been involved with the “Palestine Online Store.” He is a founding member of the Seattle-based Palestine Information Project which also goes under the name Palestine Solidarity Committee, which has campaigned to boycott Israeli products and produces propaganda that declares that:
“The racism and colonialism of the Zionist movement, with its quest for an ethnic supremacist state, remain the fundamental causes of the current conflict.”
Of course, those of us who know that at its core, Zionism is the movement for Jewish self determination reject such hate speech
When the story broke at King 5, it was accompanied by an on-line poll, asking readers to weigh in with their own opinions on the ad. Hundreds of people, and dozens of anti-Israel groups received a personal email from Rachel Corrie's mother, Cindy, asking them to vote in support of the ads:
What We Can Do - A Request From Cindy Corrie
Date: December 19, 2010 2:33:31 PM EST
Subject: Support Seattle bus ad effort - vote in King 5 TV poll
The Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign's effort to publicize Israeli War Crimes support with U.S. tax dollars on city buses is getting considerable attention. Story broke about this on Seattle King 5 TV Friday evening. The Jewish Federation has put out a letter opposing the ads.
If you haven't taken the simple step of voting in The King 5 TV poll about the effort, please do! And please pass along to your lists and let others know. Seattle activists will need support this week. Note that those supporting the ads surged ahead in the unofficial poll yesterday after we put word out - but today the opposition has taken the lead.
Over 4500 have voted in the poll in just over a day, and the story has been the first or second most read story for the past day - and the most frequently emailed. Comments are welcome.
The trouble began when supporters of Israel realized what was up, and began voting as well. Votes against the ads began winning the poll. The anti-Israel forces mobilized, and realizing that the only way to win was cheat, hacked the poll. This was not the first time
From Stand With us:
Many of you are aware that KING 5 TV, which first broke the story, had an on-line poll on whether or not Metro should carry the ads. It very quickly became the most visited page on their website, with tens of thousands of people voting. Blogs across the country directed people to vote in the poll. By Monday evening, slightly more than 50 percent of the votes were against Metro running the ad. Then, between late Monday evening and early Tuesday morning, more than 15,000 nearly unanswered "yes" votes came piling in, supporting Metro running the ads.
StandWithUs Northwest realized that someone had set up a computerized voting application that created unique but false email addresses so that thousands of fake votes could be automatically sent in to the poll. The supporters of the anti-Israel ad were ballot stuffing.
StandWithUs Northwest's co-chairs, Carolyn Hathaway and Sharon Finegold, called KING 5 and explained the problem and showed them that it was statistically nearly impossible for so many no votes to come in so quickly in a legitimate way.
KING 5 responded immediately by investigating the problem and, within an hour, pulled the poll off the web.
Upon learning that the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle had set up a website to facilitate communication with local officials, Al Awda set out a email, encouraging their activists to hijack the site for their own use.
Lying. Cheating. Hacking. Hoaxes. Vandalism. Has it occured to you that maybe, just maybe, the anti-Israel forces are not on the side of goodness and righteousness? If they had truth or history on their side, they would not have to resort to these techniques.
King County News Release
Citing potential for disruption to transit service, Executive implements interim Metro policy restricting new non-commercial advertising on buses.
Citing the potential for disruption to transit service, King County Executive Dow Constantine today approved an interim policy from Metro Transit that calls for a halt to the acceptance of any new non-commercial advertising on King County buses. Under provisions of the previous policy, Metro officials today also rejected a proposed ad from the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign and the proposed response ads from two other groups.
"The escalation of this issue from one of 12 local bus placards to a widespread and often vitriolic international debate introduces new and significant security concerns that compel reassessment," said Executive Constantine.
"My job is to deliver essential services to the people of King County, including transit service," he added. "I have 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.
"Metro sells advertising to raise revenues to provide transit service. Metro’s existing policy restricts advertising that can be reasonably foreseen to result in harm to, disruption of, or interference with the transportation system. 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."
In light of the recent escalation of events, Metro Transit General Manager Kevin Desmond today asked his advertising consultant to notify the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign that Metro is rejecting its proposed ad, and for the consultant to notify the David Horowitz Freedom Center and the American Freedom Defense Initiative that Metro will not accept their proposed ads, as posing an unacceptable risk of harm to, disruption of, or interference with bus service, as defined under current policies.
In response to the Executive’s directive on Monday to review current policies, Desmond today also recommended an interim transit advertising policy that adds non-commercial ads to the list of current restrictions, with an exception for governmental entities that advance specific government purposes. Non-commercial ads that met the previous policy and for which contracts have already been signed are not affected, and ads already in place will remain.
"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 that I can propose to the King County Council for adoption," said the Executive. "Further work during the coming weeks will help determine what constitutionally-valid policy is best for the safety and well-being of the transit-riding public, our drivers and personnel, and the community at large.
"I thank everyone who has reached out to us to express their interests on this matter."
Metro expects to complete work on a permanent transit advertising policy by the end of January, for the Executive to transmit to the County Council for adoption