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Seeing Hitler on your daily commute

Anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller puts up a new set of ads on Washington, DC’s buses

Renee Ghert-Zand is a reporter and feature writer for The Times of Israel.

Commuters in Washington, DC will be looking at Adolf Hitler for the next month thanks to a new anti-Islam campaign spearheaded by controversial blogger and activist Pamela Geller.

The 15-foot long ads featuring a photograph of the Nazi leader were placed by Geller’s American Freedom Defense Initiative on 20 city buses. The ads claim that Islam promotes Koran-based Jew-hatred and demand an end to US foreign aid to Islamic countries.

Geller wrote on her website that the campaign — which features an archival photograph of Hitler meeting with Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Palestinian nationalist and Islamic leader of Mandate Palestine — are a response to “the vicious Jew-hating” ads placed on Washington buses in March and April by the Illinois-based group American Muslims for Palestine. Those ads stated, “We’re sweating April 15 so Israelis don’t have to! Stop US aid to Israel’s occupation!”

Geller told The Times of Israel by email that she never considered not responding to the American Muslims for Palestine ad. “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.

While most commuters will recognize Hitler, far fewer will be familiar with  al-Husseini, who was the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem from 1921 to 1948, and the president of the Supreme Muslim Council (1922-1937).

“[Al-Husseini] was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Jewish women and children. He raised Muslim armies for Hitler in Bosnia,” Geller wrote.  “I hope the ad motivates people to research and learn more about the Mufti and this history of the Jews in Muslim lands. Only then will people begin to understand the root cause of the Islamic war against the Jews.”

Having previously lost a First Amendment case against Geller and AFDI, Metro, Washington’s transit agency, accepted the Hitler ads. In 2012, a federal judge ordered Metro to display ads that stated, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat jihad.”

Geller was barred from entering the UK in 2013. The Home Office denied her entry on the basis that her “presence here would not be conducive to the public good.” Her previous history reportedly indicated to the Home Secretary that Geller might attempt to “foster hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK.” In addition, synagogues in the US have previously canceled planned appearances by her, citing security concerns.

The activist wrote that she has received a great deal of support for the new ads, and that there has been no threat of legal action against her. “No. Why would there be?” she replied when asked about the possibility of a law suit. “My ad is factual, and the opposition knows that as well as I do.”

Jonathan Carey, founder and executive director of BlueStar, a San Francisco-based Israel advocacy and public relations organization, believes Geller’s ads will only end up offending and alienating people.

“I don’t think anyone following the news would be surprised about radical Islam, but this is not something for a poster in the public realm,” he told The Times of Israel.

“People who put up ads that spew hatred are targeting their enemies on the issue. But 99 percent of those seeing these ads are on neither of the extreme sides,” he explained.

“If the goal of these ads it to get people to hate Muslims, then that goal is very misdirected,” said Carey. “The goal should be to bring those who don’t know or care about Jews and Israel closer to our side.”

Geller thinks otherwise. She says she is going to keep doing what she is doing as long as “pro-jihad terror forces put their anti-Semitic lies on public buses.”

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