Metro considers changing policy over anti-Israeli bus ads

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by KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on December 21, 2010 at 7:41 PM

SEATTLE -- Calls and emails continue to flood into King County as Metro deals with a political firestorm over its bus billboard policy.

An anti-Israeli ad campaign is scheduled to appear on buses starting Dec. 27. A group called the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign is behind the ads. It's the two-year anniversary of Israeli military action in Gaza, aimed at stopping rocket attacks on Israeli citizens.

Metro is considering changing its ad policies for non-commercial groups, but says it could be costly and tricky. But if they ban the anti-Israel ads, they might have to ban ads for causes that have public appeal, such as the Boys and Girls Club, Puget Sound Blood Center and United Way.

The American Civil Liberties Unions is urging Metro to run the ads, saying they may offend people but they should be protected under the First Amendment.

A year ago religious groups were in an uproar when Metro ran an atheist ad reading "Yes, Virginia, there is no God." Earlier this year some citizens called for banning the Avenue Q ad because a puppet had cleavage. Metro rejected an ad for the video game "Left 4 Dead" because it has a mature rating.

News of the ads has led to tighter security at the Jewish Federation in downtown Seattle. Four years ago, a mentally ill man claiming to be angry at Israel broke into the building, shot and killed a woman and shot five others. The fear is an ad campaign could fuel more violence.

"We're always on a heightened sense of awareness in the Jewish community and this heightens it," said Richard Fruchter with the Jewish Federation.

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