Bus ads linking "Islamic Jew-hatred" with Adolf Hitler are rolling through the streets of Washington, DC, with First Amendment protections guaranteeing they will remain a regular sight on the beltway for some time to come.
The 15-foot-long (4.6m) ads have been plastered on the elongated broadsides of some 20 buses in the DC metro area. The bus add features a photo of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler seated alongside his “staunch ally” Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Palestinian nationalist and grand mufti of Jerusalem who allied himself with the Third Reich before and during World War II.
"Islamic Jew-hatred: It's in the Quran. Two-thirds of all US aid goes to Islamic countries. Stop racism. End all aid to Islamic countries," the text of the ad reads, with a fine-print disclaimer from the city’s Metro transit authority.
The ads, which are to run until mid-June, were placed by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), a self-proclaimed human rights group which has been accused of being an anti-Islam hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League.
The AFDI says their ads are “response to the vicious Jew-hating ads that American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) unleashed on Washington, DC, Metro buses last month.”
The ads in question, which bore an image of US personification Uncle Sam with an Israeli flag in hand, were placed around the DC area on April 15 – tax day.
“We’re sweating April 15 so Israelis don’t have to! Stop US aid to Israel’s occupation!” the ad by the Illinois-based pro-Palestinian group read.
Dr. Osama Abu Irshaid, a board member for AMP, said that during tough economic times when Americans were struggling to pay their taxes, “our hard-earned money is going to a country that has implemented the last and longest-lasting military occupation in the modern world.”
AFDI President Pamela Geller, who described the AMP ad as “Jew hating” and “libelous”, took particular umbrage with the depiction of Uncle Sam in the sticker.
“Uncle Sam with the Star of David. Nuts. Think about the billions we are giving to Muslim Brotherhood jihadists in Egypt and Libya, Gaza, Judea and Samaria, the Taliban in Afghanistan, etc. A flag of jihad would be more appropriate,” she said.
Gellar told the Times of Israel by email that she never considered not responding to the AMP campaign.
“When is it ever advantageous to let a lie stand unchallenged by the truth? The truth is always appropriate — now more than ever,” she wrote.
AMP spokeswoman, Kristin Szremski, told the Washington Post that over-the-top rhetoric was par for the course when it came to the AFDI.
“We typically don’t react to Pamela Geller, because this is the kind of thing she does, countering political speech with racist, Islamophobic speech,” Szremski said.
When asked why the latest AFDI add was given the green light, a spokeswoman for Metro told AFP "We're not able to refuse ads on the basis of content," citing a 2012 court case involving a separate AFDI campaign.
In September 2012, AFDI ran a series of ads in the New York City subway reading "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” Later that year, a federal judge ordered the Metro to display the ads following a suit filed by AFP on First Amendment Grounds.
Geller said the case as a “major victory” in the “war on free speech,” noting the latest campaign would have never got off the ground if it were not for the previous legal challenge.