‘Killing Jews’ Parody Ads|Will Grace NYC Subways

     MANHATTAN (CN) – There is no public-safety threat in an advertising campaign on New York City subways and buses that tells commuters: “Killing Jews is worship that draws us closer to Allah,” a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
     Paid for by the American Defense Freedom Initiative (AFDI), the ad shows a picture of a man draped in a Palestinian keffiyeh next to a quotation attributed to “Hamas MTV.”
     Viacom does not have a channel in the Gaza Strip devoted to Hamas propaganda.
     In the advertisement, the “Hamas MTV” citation refers to Palestinian Media Watch’s translation of a hateful music video that militants broadcast on the public airwaves of the Gaza Strip.
     AFDI quoted this inflammatory language to parody the “My Jihad” ad campaign by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an initiative aimed to reclaim a tenet of the Muslim faith from violent extremists and bigotry against their creed.
     Sending up that campaign, the “Killing Jews” ad ends: “That’s his jihad. What’s yours?”
     Both AFDI and CAIR have courted controversy for years over advocacy that their critics say crosses the line to hatred.
     The Department of Justice under former President George W. Bush branded CAIR “unindicted co-conspirators” in a case against the Holy Land Foundation accusing the groups of support for Hamas.
     Calling this designation a product of the post-Sept. 11 climate of fear, CAIR has long complained that the “unindicted co-conspirator” accusation offered no chance to clear its name at a trial. The group also has struggled to live down the taint of an expression of sympathy for Hamas that an executive has since repudiated.
     For its part, AFDI’s vitriolic ad campaigns across the United States have led to its labeling as a hate group. The Southern Poverty Law Center called its leader Pamela Geller “the anti-Muslim movement’s most flamboyant figurehead,” and the Anti-Defamation League denounced her lawyer David Yerushalmi for his “record of anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-black bigotry.”
     Geller is quick to tell her detractors that the oldest Queens Village Republican Club has honored her as “American Patriot of the Year.”
     New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority had more of a problem with the message than the messenger.
     Since CAIR’s “My Jihad” ad never ran in New York, the MTA worried that commuters would interpret the ad as an endorsement of anti-Semitic murder.
     U.S. District Judge John Koeltl saw little risk of that Tuesday.
     “While the court is sensitive to the MTA’s security concerns, the [administration has] not presented any objective evidence that the Killing Jews advertisement would be likely to incite imminent violence,” the 28-page opinion states. “Indeed, as the [MTA] knew when considering whether to run the ad, substantially the same advertisement ran in San Francisco and Chicago in 2013 without incident.”
     Finding that the ads qualified as protected speech, Koeltl said the MTA “restricted it based on its content without a compelling interest or a response narrowly tailored to achieving any such interest.”
     Though two MTA officials testified that the threat was real in daylong hearings on March 25, Koeltl believed then and now that New Yorkers were savvy enough to distinguish genuine Hamas propaganda from a send-up of it.
     To prevent any confusion, Koeltl suggested that the MTA put up an “adjacent advertisement countering the quote from Hamas or stating that the entire AFDI ad is [a] parody.”
     An MTA spokesman said: “We are disappointed the judge’s decision and are reviewing our options.”
     Yerushalmi reacted to the decision with a statement that lashes out against “terrorists” and “government bureaucrats” he alleged to be mutually bound by Islamic speech codes.
     “Judge Koeltl’s well-written and considered opinion sends a loud and clear message to Islamic terrorists around the globe as well as to those government bureaucrats who believe that Sharia’s blasphemy laws are an exception to the First Amendment,” he said. “And that message is this: America’s liberties will not give way to Islamic terror threats nor to government bureaucrats who are quick to cast aside our liberties for fear of offending Muslims.”

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