Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority plans to ban political ads
After controversy over an anti-Israel ad placed at the Davis Square station, the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) has planned to ban all political advertising.
The ad, which criticizes Israel’s use of U.S. tax dollars and highlights the amount of Palestinian children killed by the state since 2000, was approved last week. The Palestinian Advocacy Project (PAP), the group responsible for these ad, asserted that it is a form of protected First Amendment speech.
The ad’s approval came after persuasion from the ACLU that the ad does not violate any of MBTA’s standards, Haaretz reported. But according to Joe Pesaturo, MBTA spokesman, a ban on political messaging could come “within two months.”
“To reduce unnecessary litigation which can arise from issue-based ads of this nature, the MBTA is working toward amending its advertising guidelines and, in the future, will not accept ads concerning political issues or matters of public debate,” Pesaturo told Boston.com.
The announcement followed a complaint by the Jewish Relations Council of Greater Boston about the anti-Israel ad. The council claimed “spreading distortions and inaccuracies about a complex political situation will achieve no positive benefit.” But PAP believes the info in its ads are crucial facts Americans need to know to understand the occupation.
“What we are trying to do is highlight to Americans a component of the story we think is missed,” PAP’s Jake Chase-Lubitz told WCVB last week.
This isn’t the first time the MTBA has faced backlash for Anti-Israel ads. Just last year, similar ads were approved then removed before the contract expired.
The approved ad from last week was one out of the three that had been initially approved by the MBTA in June 2014. That year, the governing body of the public transportation system in the state of Massachusetts claimed that the ads were a violation to their policy against language that demeans or disparages individuals or groups.
The rejection in 2014 was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of PAP, formerly Ads Against Apartheid. The ACLU argued that the poster should be allowed in public space because it is protected by the First Amendment.