Israel lobby strikes again as Seattle billboards are canceled?

Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah – You may recall that in January the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign had contracted with the local bus company to place ads calling for an end to aid to Israel on area public buses. However, under Zionist pressure, King County officials, responsible for the bus system, reneged on the contract and censored the ads before they appeared. This prompted the ACLU to sue the local authorities.

Well, instead of the bus ads, the group placed large billboards around Seattle, but now the company that owns the billboards, ClearChannel, has canceled the contract and removed the ads as well. From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Months after trying to place controversial ads about Israel on Metro buses, the Seattle group behind the ads said its latest effort to put a similar message on billboards has also been rejected.

The group, the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign (SeaMAC), said billboard company Clear Channel Outdoor had placed three of the group’s signs last week and this week.

The signs say, “Equal rights for Palestinians – Stop funding the Israeli military.” But on Wednesday, Clear Channel announced it was canceling the contract, saying it re-evaluated its decision after people complained, according to SeaMAC.

“We don’t under [sic] what is objectionable about equal rights…” SeaMAC volunteer Ed Mast said Thursday, standing near billboard on Elliott Avenue West that once had his message. It now said, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” “This leaves us censored now twice in Seattle.”

Read the full story, because the justifications given by ClearChannel for removing the billboards are astonishing. Effectively, calling for equal rights for Palestinians, and a sane US foreign policy that doesn’t unconditionally give Israel weapons with which to maintain an illegal occupation and commit war crimes, is now considered “offensive speech” in America, subjecting you to censorship by both government authorities and private media.

The untold story is what pressure was brought on ClearChannel, and by whom, for the company to impose censorship in this way.

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