WHAT StandWithUs Northwest HAS DONE
Last Friday evening, we confirmed that an anti-Israel group was planning to run anti-Israel “Israeli War Crimes” ads on at least 12 buses running through downtown Seattle. Saturday evening, we sent out the first of our three email StandWithUs alert messages and you responded. People from all over the world wrote to the suggested recipients and are working to make a difference.
Many of you have copied us with the emails you’ve sent in to the King County Councilmembers and Metro. We’ve received copies of over 1,800 emails so far. And we know that that is only a small portion of the emails that have been sent – not everyone copied us on their emails. Plus, the phones at Metro have been ringing off the hook with complaints about Metro accepting the anti-Israel “Israeli War Crimes” ad.
Since Monday, StandWithUs Northwest’s professional and Seattle lay leadership have been on the phones, calling King County Councilmembers, lobbying them to come out in opposition to the anti-Israel ad. We’ve been calling all our other political contacts asking that they (1) call the councilmembers and Metro and use their political powers of persuasion to get Metro to reconsider the ad in light of the language of its own policy, and (2) be prepared to come out publicly in opposition to the message of the ad and in support of U.S. aid to Israel.
The Results So Far
As a result of your emails and calls, and calls from other community members and leaders, along with StandWithUs Northwest lobbying, we know that at least three King County Councilmembers have publicly come out in opposition to Metro running the ad. The first to speak out was Councilmember Peter von Reichbauer. Yesterday both Councilmembers Reagan Dunn and Jeanne Hague also came out very strongly with statements opposing the ad.
Please let them know we appreciate that they have taken this public position. Let them know that we appreciate their political courage and that we know the political risk they take by clearly speaking out in the Seattle metropolitan area in opposition to the anti-Israel ad and in support of Israel.
To thank these council members, click on the following names to email Councilmember von Reichbauer (206-296-1007), Councilmember Reagan Dunn (206-296-1009) and Councilmember Jeanne Hague (206-296-1006).
Closing Down Ballot Stuffing on KING 5 TV Poll
Many of you are aware that KING 5 TV, which first broke the story, had an on-line poll on whether or not Metro should carry the ads. It very quickly became the most visited page on their website, with tens of thousands of people voting. Blogs across the country directed people to vote in the poll. By Monday evening, slightly more than 50 percent of the votes were against Metro running the ad. Then, between late Monday evening and early Tuesday morning, more than 15,000 nearly unanswered “yes” votes came piling in, supporting Metro running the ads.
StandWithUs Northwest realized that someone had set up a computerized voting application that created unique but false email addresses so that thousands of fake votes could be automatically sent in to the poll. The supporters of the anti-Israel ad were ballot stuffing.
StandWithUs Northwest’s co-chairs, Carolyn Hathaway and Sharon Finegold, called KING 5 and explained the problem and showed them that it was statistically nearly impossible for so many no votes to come in so quickly in a legitimate way.
KING 5 responded immediately by investigating the problem and, within an hour, pulled the poll off the web.
Meeting with the King County Executive Office and Metro Management
This afternoon we met with representatives of the King County Executive’s office together the senior management of Metro.
We were joined for this meeting by three other community organizations: the AJC, Federation of Greater Seattle and ADL.
Together, we urged Metro to hold off on running the ad until they review it in light of the threat to public safety and the danger to the Jewish community in Seattle – especially in light of the attacks against our community organizations in recent years, including recent vandalism and threats at Jewish schools.
We asked that they apply their own advertising policy, which specifically states that they will not run ads that include “material directed at a . . . group that is so insulting, degrading or offensive as to be reasonably foreseeable that it will incite or produce imminent lawless action in the form of retaliation, vandalism or other breach of public safety, peace and order.”
We explained that the “Israeli War Crimes” language is incendiary, that the ad could result in a mentally unbalanced person attacking Jews or Jewish organizations – or even Metro’s buses. We expressed that this is very a serious concern in the Jewish community – a community that needs to spend an inordinate amount of money on security for our schools, synagogues and organizations.
Both the King County Executive’s office and the Metro management heard our position. No decision was reached at the meeting, but we expect to hear from them shortly.
WHAT StandWithUs Northwest IS DOING NOW
Again, StandWithUs fervently hopes that Metro will not run the anti-Israel ad. But if they do, we are prepared to run our own ad. It’s a tough ad, but we feel that we have to respond to what will be four weeks of repeated “Israeli War Crimes” ads running through our downtown corridor. In today’s world of sound bite news, it is that phrase that people will remember long after the ad campaign is over.
We also know that many other organizations from outside of the state are planning to run ads. One of the reasons we hope that Metro will decide not to run the anti-Israel ad is because it will bring the Middle East conflict to the buses of Seattle. It will result in organizations using Seattle as their advertising battlefield. It will be divisive and hurt our larger community. And because issues like the Mideast conflict are far more complex than sound bites.
Over the past three years,StandWithUs Northwest has sent speakers out throughout the community – to schools, campuses, churches, and civic organizations – to speak to thousands of high school and college students, church members and Northwest community members in support of Israel. We realize how little most people know about Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
But it has been an eye-opener and evidence of the need for even much greater outreach and education to realize that the Metro management had no idea how the anti-Israel “Israeli War Crimes” ad would affect our community. They had no idea that it would elicit the incredible response from you and members of the Jewish community across not only Seattle, Washington or the U.S., but from Jews around the world.
They asked us, “What’s so bad about this ad? We just don’t get it.”
Clearly, we have a lot of work to do. We need more speakers, more meetings with church leaders, more programs in the community, more educational opportunities and more chances to confront, face-to-face, in public debates and forums, those who distort the truth and demonize Israel. We need proactive education and we must be prepared to respond to misinformation.
THANK YOU’S GO TO:
AJC and Wendy Rosen for heading the Seattle Anti-BDS Task Force.
AJC, Federation, ADL and various other organizations and individuals for their work on the Anti-BDS Task Force.
The Federation of Greater Seattle for the alert it sent out this week.
The metropolitan Seattle community’s rabbis, synagogues and organizations for sending out to their members and supporters our alert this week.
You and the thousands of other community members who have written, called, and created the political pressure that has led to the County and Metro’s reconsideration of the anti-Israel ad.