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Money From Pro-Israel Ad Goes to Human Rights Group

| August 15, 2012
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The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency says it will donate proceeds from a controversial pro-Israel ad to the San Francisco Human Rights Commission. In a statement released yesterday, the agency condemned the ad, but said it would not remove it:

The recent ad has no value in facilitating constructive dialogue or advancing the cause of peace and justice. While this ad is protected under the First Amendment, our ad policy and our contractual obligations, we condemn the use of any language that belittles, demeans or disparages others.

The ad, paid for by the–American Freedom Defense Initiative–has gone up on 10 Muni buses since August 7. It reads:

In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.

The ad is posted on public transit in New York and San Francisco. A U.S. District Court judge has ruled the ad is protected by free speech.

We reported earlier this week that the ad was sponsored by anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller. Mother Jones reports:

This isn’t the first time Geller, who warned America about “stealth halal” turkeys last Thanksgiving, has used a public transit ad campaign to get her views out. In 2010, she sponsored ads attacking a proposed Islamic Community Center near Ground Zero as a “Mega Mosque” celebrating the 9/11 attacks. Another ad campaign Geller sponsored offered help to those who may have a “Fatwa on [their] head” and are considering “leaving Islam.”

The Human Rights Commission is getting $3,600 from SFMTA for the ad placement. Executive Director Theresa Sparks says the money will be used for a public education campaign. Sparks tells KQED reporter Aarti Shanani, “My first reaction, as was the director of MTA’s reaction, was to pull the ad. But looking at some policies that they have followed over the last several years, we didn’t feel that there was specific enough language in the policy to warrant that.”

SFMTA said it will review its ad policy going forward. The ad will run through August.

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