UPDATE: According to StandWithUs, the King County authorities have decided not to allow the anti-Israel bus ad in the post below. For now Metro Transit will only be allowing ads with a commercial use. I view this as a Solomonic decision. Well done. Below is what I wrote earlier today before learning of this ruling.
I am on Bainbridge Island — thirty-five calming ferry minutes from Seattle — looking out at a glorious stand of Douglas fir, dappled sunlight streaming through deep green pine needles. Off in the distance, clouds roll in from Olympic National Park. If there is a view — or a season — that makes this agnostic want to believe in God, this is it.
But across Puget Sound, in the very Seattle, things are not quite so sylvan. (In fact they’re not so sylvan here now either — it’s starting to rain.) Not far from the Salvation Army band at Nordstrom’s or the hot buttered rum at Shucker’s, there’s some distinctly un-seasonal goings-on at Metro Transit. It’s not “Come All Ye Faithful”; it’s “Come All Ye Faithful to Allah.” Extra faithful. A group branding itself the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign is buying side advertisements for city buses with the legend: “Israeli War Crimes — Your Tax Dollars at Work.”
Naturally this is creating a stir and serious objection from Jewish groups in a city that saw a synagogue shooting in 2006 with one dead and five wounded. Possible violence notwithstanding, the soi-disant civil libertarians in local government have yet to put a stop to it, although discussion is on-going.
The Israel advocacy group StandWithUs is doing a superb job of clarifying the issues. At the same time, the David Horowitz Freedom Center is, understandably alas, trying to purchase a counter ad reading “Palestinian War Crimes.” Not a pretty situation.
So who is the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign? Not surprisingly, the “about us” section of their website reveals next to nothing, providing only propagandistic blather. But Family Security Matters has done the legwork for us (kudos to them), tracking down the “enlightened progressives” crusading for their version of justice this holiday season.
Reading this, on some level, it’s easy to dismiss these pathetic clods. (One of them is a wannabe screenwriter whose sole shared credit is a 1985 movie nobody saw with the ironic title Bombs Away.) Indeed, some Jewish groups are recommending the situation be ignored on the arguable grounds that opposition only gives publicity to the relatively obscure Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign.
Unfortunately, we do not have such a luxury. Anti-Semitic (indeed all racist) groups in the past have been populated with such malcontented losers. It is the essence of who they are. And some of those groups, as we know, become remarkably powerful and wreak global devastation.
So let’s hope the King County council members wake up and handle this matter with maturity. (Some members are already doing so, as you can see from the StandWithUs link above.) They should not be misled by the absurd contention of the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign that they are not anti-Semitic, only opposed to certain policies of the state of Israel. A few minutes on their site, where not one mention of Hamas or Hezbollah occurs, coupled with a quick perusal of their backgrounds provided by Family Security Matters (the International Solidarity Movement, etc.), makes it clear that these are fanatics who would, like Hamas, like nothing more than the extinction of Israel.
I am a reasonably certain this is the kind of propaganda the King County council does not want on the sides of their buses.