The Beit Yehonatan building in East Jerusalem
The Beit Yehonatan building, settled by ultra-nationalist Jews in the heart of East Jerusalem. Photo by Tess Scheflan
Text size

Cnaan Advertising, which places ads on Egged buses in Jerusalem, has refused to accept advertising for a campaign by the non-profit Ir Amim organization highlighting East Jerusalem. Ir Amim promotes "an equitable and stable Jerusalem with an agreed political future." The purpose of the campaign was to reintroduce the Jerusalem question into the debate on the peace process.

The first part of the campaign was to consist of teasers that rhyme in Hebrew mentioning neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, such as "Our driver is an active man, he'll take us to Silwan" and "Our driver goes slow, he'll take us to Shuafat." The second part was to have ads listing all the East Jerusalem neighborhoods, with the sentence: "If the neighborhoods don't appear on your map they're probably not part of our city."

"We want to reintroduce Jerusalem into the Israeli discourse," Ir Amim executive director Yudith Oppenheimer said. "The idea is to show that we have no foothold in the east of the city. We're not really there. We wanted to draw attention to how run-down and neglected these neighborhoods are. They seem part of the city but they're outside the radar and beyond the horizon. Our inability to deal with this issue sabotages the possibility of a future solution," she said.

The campaign was due to be launched immediately after Yom Kippur but at the last moment Ir Amim was notified by Cnaan that it was scrapping the campaign.

"After receiving the campaign's graphics and message our company decided not to approve it due to its sensitivity," the company's statement to Ir Amim read. "In our experience, campaigns such as these lead to vandalism against the ads and buses, and we want to avoid that."

Advertising agents in Jerusalem said yesterday that a campaign like Ir Amim's could lead to buses being torched and cause harm to both Jews and Arabs in the city.

Ir Amim was furious with Cnaan and said the company has no objections to right-wing political campaigns on buses and does nothing to prevent them. Ir Amim is considering legal measures against the advertising company.

Cnaan refused to comment.