Buses in London displaying advertising posters for an upcoming Iran-linked anti-Israel rally have riled the local Jewish community, and pushed the city into reviewing its ad policy.
However, Transport for London, also known as TfL, said Friday it would not remove the posters, as they are in any case scheduled to be removed “in a few days,” according to a spokesman.
The Al Quds Day march is an annual, international event founded by the late Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, which is due to take place in central London this year on August 17, the last day of Ramadan.
While the posters on nearly 450 London buses claim the event is about “the freedom of the Palestinians,” a website belonging to the London organizers, the Islamic Human Rights Commission, quotes Ayatollah Khomeini as saying that it is “a day for the oppressed to rise and stand up against the arrogant.”
The website includes links to incendiary quotes by Ayatollah Khomeini, such as one in which he calls on people to “rise, destroy Israel and replace it with the heroic Palestinian nation,” and video footage of previous Al Quds day marches, showing demonstrators holding signs saying “We are all Hizbollah” and anti-Zionist Neturei Karta Hassidic Jews waving Palestinian flags.
The six-week bus ad campaign has drawn sharp protest from British-Jewish groups including the Jewish Leadership Council and Board of Deputies, who have called for it to be pulled immediately.
Current TfL guidelines do allow contractors to reject or amend advertisements that are political, but a spokesman declined to explain why this ad campaign was accepted.
“We share unease over any advertisement which can be viewed as being ‘political’. We are therefore reviewing our advertising policy… to address this issue in future,” the spokesman said. ”The advertisements in question, which are similar to advertisements which ran on our network last year, will be off the system in a few days. In the meantime, no similar advertisements will be accepted until such time as the policy review has been completed.”
Dave Rich, deputy communications director for the Community Security Trust, which coordinates much of Anglo-Jewry’s security efforts, said that “The founders and organizers of Al Quds Day make it clear that this rally is about calling for Israel to disappear, and every year marchers carry flags of Hezbollah, a terrorist organization that targets Jews and Israelis around the world. It is clearly unacceptable that this event was advertised on London buses and we are pleased that TfL have said they will review their policy in the future.”
In Canada, Jewish groups are trying to stop an Al Quds Day event taking place in front of the Ontario Parliament in Toronto on August 18, asking Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty to stop the rally getting a permit.