Jerusalem Rejects Anti-incitement Ad Depicting Rabin as a 'Foreign Agent'

The New Israel Fund, sponsor of the campaign, says that the campaign is intended to counter incitement and anti-democratic tendencies.

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 has rejected a New Israel Fund advertising campaign against what the fund says is "rampant incitement and anti-democratic" tendencies.

The campaign, which has been approved by Tel Aviv and Haifa, shows a picture of assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin with the text "They've already dealt with this foreign agent."

Jerusalem rejected the campaign because "its message is unclear and it could be interpreted as incitement."  

The campaign was intended as a response to a video circulated recently by the right-wing group Im Tirtzu, which portrayed four left-wing activists as "foreign agents" who defended terrorists.

The Im Tirtzu banner against left-wing "moles" on display above Tel Aviv's Rothschild Boulevard, December 2015.
Moti Milrod

"The last time we saw such a wave of orchestrated incitement, a prime minister was assassinated in Israel," the fund wrote on its Facebook page.

"We want to raise a black flag [of warning] a moment before the next political murder. A moment before anyone who utters criticism senses a threat to his life. A moment before a total loss of what unites the various parts of Israeli society."

The advertising campaign was rejected by the municipality's signage committee, according to the company that was meant to implement the campaign in Jerusalem on behalf of the New Israel Fund.

The company informed the fund that deputy mayor Meir Turjeman, who heads the signage committee, "will not permit the campaign in public areas." It also wrote that the campaign's "message is unclear and it could be interpreted as incitement."  

The fund has engaged the services of attorney Yossi Habilio, who formerly served as the municipality's legal counsel, in a bid to get the decision overturned.

Habilio warned Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Thursday that the issue would be taken to court if the campaign was not approved. He argued that the inability to understand the campaign was not a valid reason to reject it and that the campaign cannot be accused of incitement because its message is the opposite and warns of the danger of incitement.

The fund said that the municipality's concern only proves its contention that "the inciters are causing fear among the society at large. It makes us even more determined to pursue our public mission – to warn, because we are only a moment away from the next political murder."

The municipality said in response that a city bylaw regarding signage allows it to refuse permission to hang a poster that could infringe on the law or harm public order or the public's feelings.

"In the opinion of the municipality's legal counsel, the description of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin as a 'foreign agent' harms his memory," the municipality said.

It added that the "advertisement defames Im Tirzu in that it implies that the group was responsible for the murder of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin."