Jerusalem Bars New Israel Fund's Anti-incitement Campaign Without Convening Relevant Committee

Decision was made by signage committee chairman alone.

The New Israel Fund ad campaign: a picture of assassinated Prime Minister Rabin with the text "They've already dealt with this foreign agent."
New Israel Fund Facebook page

The Jerusalem municipality had barred an anti-incitement public campaign by the New Israel Fund that features slain Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The decision was made without calling a meeting of the municipal signage committee that approves billboards, but by the committee chairman only, deputy mayor Meir Turgeman.

Two weeks ago the municipality ruled out the campaign, which features Rabin alongside the slogan, “They have already dealt with this foreign agent," because, among other reasons it cited, “The advertisement constitutes slander against the Im Tirtzu movement.” The ad was a response to a video published by Im Tirtzu, an extreme anti-leftist NGO, accusing four left-wing activists of being "foreign agents" and of defending terrorists.

City council member Itay Gotler of the Labor party, who is a member of the signage committee, criticized the decision. As Jerusalem is the capital, the various sides of the national political debate must be allowed to express their views publicly, said Gotler.

The city has approved vitriolic campaigns in the past from the right side of the political spectrum, including one by Im Tirtzu that showed the president of the New Israel Fund, Naomi Chazan, with a horn on her forehead.

The NIF says its campaign “is intended to deal with the wild incitement and the attack on democracy.” It has asked the city to reverse its decision. Both the NIF and the Jerusalem municipality have asked Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to decide the matter.

The city said: “The Jerusalem city bylaw on signage allows the refusal to grant a permit for an advertisement that includes a violation, or if it will harm the public welfare or sensitivities. The decision on the matter was made according to the accepted procedure and based on an opinion of the city legal bureau, according to which the representation of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, of blessed memory, as a ‘mole’ harms his memory as the prime minister of Israel.

"In addition, there is harm to the public’s welfare and its feelings, and the advertisement constitutes slander against the Im Tirtzu movement in presenting it in an implied manner as being responsible for the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, of blessed memory.”