Pamela Geller: Lamar Advertising Runs Anti-Israel Billboards, Refuses AFDI Pro-Freedom Billboards
As sharia adherence becomes increasingly the norm, outrages to free speech are increasingly commonplace. The Observer reported Friday that “approximately five miles south of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, alongside the Interstate 294, stands a large anti-Israel billboard.” This ad was running on billboards owned by the national billboard company, Lamar Advertising – which repeatedly turned down my American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) pro-freedom ads.
The billboard was a vicious attack sponsored by the notorious anti-Israel group known as the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign (SEAMAC), and screaming, “Boycott Israel Until Palestinians Have Equal Rights.” Muslims serve in the Israeli Knesset and have more rights in Israel than they do in Muslim countries. After complaints poured in about this ad, Lamar took them down, but only under pressure. The whole episode revealed how the public square is increasingly available only to a far-left perspective; other points of view are shut out.
When initially challenged about the ads, Lamar outrageously took cover in the freedom of speech:
We have received a large number of social media comments and hundreds of telephone calls concerning a billboard in Chicago sponsored by the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign (SEAMAC). The advertisement suggests that people should ‘Boycott Israel Until Palestinians Have Equal Rights.’ It is important to understand that this is a message from SEAMAC and not Lamar Advertising. Lamar has been in the billboard business for over 100 years and we have developed a strong commitment to supporting the First Amendment right of advertisers who wish to use our medium to promote legal products and services or to convey noncommercial messages such as the one in Chicago. We do not accept or reject copy based upon agreement or disagreement with the views presented. We think SEAMAC has a right to present their views and would also support the right of those who disagree with SEAMAC. We welcome your comments.
“We do not accept or reject copy based upon agreement or disagreement with the views presented.” Really? For the past nine months, AFDI has submitted various ads to 15 cities. All were rejected, yet every ad was fact-based.
Our Muhammad ad that we submitted last July, for example, consisted of three Muhammad quotes. And while private and government agencies have no problem running blatantly dishonest ads about Muhammad, such as the false and deceptive ads about Muhammad that Lamar was running from the Muslim Brotherhood group the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), they reject his direct quotes. That is sharia.
Our ad quoting Muhammad saying: “I have been made victorious through terror”; “I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women)”; and “I have been commanded to fight against people” – all authenticated quotes from approved Muslim sources. Lamar asked us to provide them with the sources of all the quotations; we did so. Then they rejected the ad “pursuant to their advertising policies.” They gave no further explanation. Where was Lamar’s commitment to the freedom of speech then? “We think SEAMAC has a right to present their views and would also support the right of those who disagree with SEAMAC.” But apparently Lamar does not believe that AFDI has any such right.
Lamar was so solicitous of SEAMAC that when it took its billboards down, it said in a statement: “We have tried to contact SEAMAC to discuss these issues but have not received a reply to our telephone and email messages. Therefore we have decided to remove the SEAMAC copy as soon as possible.” Lamar was anxious not to offend the vicious Jew-haters; but did not deign even to explain why they were rejecting our truthful and much-needed ads.
This is the war on truth. George Orwell said: “The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it.” Lamar loves SEAMAC and its lies. It hates AFDI and the truth. It is just another indication of how far our society is drifting from its moorings.