'Inflammatory' support Israel' adverts up on New York subway

By Jennifer Lipman, September 20, 2012

Adverts encouraging people to "Support Israel" and "Defeat Jihad" that have been described by an American hate monitor as "inflammatory" are being posted on the New York subway system.

Passengers on the New York transport system will from next week walk past ten posters featuring stars of David and declaring "In any war between the civilised man and the savage, support the civilised man", after the NYC Metropolitan Transportation Authority lost a federal court battle to block their display.

The controversial publicity campaign has been funded by the American Freedom Defence Initiative (AFDI), a group directed by well known right wing activist Pamela Geller, who also serves as the executive director of the Stop Islamisation of America organisation.

The group has been heavily criticised for its divisive approach by the Anti - Defamation League and by the Southern Poverty Law Centre.

Discussing the court decision to allow the campaign to go ahead in New York, the ADL's Rom Meier said he backed the conclusion that the advert was "a form of protected speech under the First Amendment".

But he added: "We still strongly object to both the message and the messenger.

"We believe these ads are highly offensive and inflammatory. Pro-Israel doesn't mean anti-Muslim. It is possible to support Israel without engaging in bigoted anti-Muslim and anti-Arab stereotypes."

The adverts are likely to be viewed as all the more incendiary due to the protests throughout the Arab world over a trailer for a film denigrating the Prophet Mohammed. The filmmaker initially claimed to be an Israeli Jew by the name of Sam Bacile, but it subsequently emerged that he was a Coptic Christian and that Jewish groups had not backed the film.

The adverts have appeared in San Francisco and could also appear in Washington DC as the AFDI has paid for advertising space on the city's transport system, but the transit authorities have postponed allowing them to go up "out of a concern for public safety, given current world events". "I will never cower before violent intimidation and stop telling the truth because doing so is dangerous," Ms Geller told the New York Times. "If someone commits violence, it is his responsibility and no one else's."

Last updated: 11:33am, September 20 2012