ADL Slams anti-Muslim Ad Campaign in Washington

As heinous as the message is, Jewish organization recognizes ads on D.C. buses as being protected by the First Amendment.

Anti-Muslim bus ad
A Metro bus, featuring a controversial ad, driving on a street in Washington, DC on May 21, 2014. AFP

The Anti-Defamation League on Wednesday criticized an advertisement from an anti-Muslim group as “highly offensive and inflammatory,” but said the offensive material clearly qualifies as protected political speech under the First Amendment.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative, headed by anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller, launched the four-week ad campaign headlined "Islamic Jew-hatred: It's in the Quran" on 20 Metro buses in Washington, D.C., last week. The ad includes a photo of Haj Amin al-Husseini, who was the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in Mandatory Palestine, having a conversation with Adolf Hitler in 1941.

David C. Friedman, the ADL's regional director in the U.S. capital, released the following statement: “The Anti-Defamation League deplores the use of this Hitler imagery and this message of intolerance. These ads are highly offensive and inflammatory. Pro-Israel doesn’t mean anti-Muslim. And support for Israel cannot be built on bigoted anti-Muslim and anti-Arab stereotypes. At the same time, ADL consistently maintains that government censorship is not the right response to hate speech. The League supports the free speech guarantees embodied in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, understanding that the best way to combat hateful speech is with more speech.”

Geller's campaign follows one of the exact same placement and dimensions by American Muslims for Palestine, whose message read, "We're sweating April 15 so Israelis don't have to – Stop U.S. aid to Israel's occupation!" (April 15 is the deadline for Americans to pay their federal income tax.) That ad included a cartoon of Uncle Sam waving an Israeli flag.

Geller's organization described AMP's ad as one that engaged in "Jew-hating." AMP described Geller's as an instance of "countering political speech with racist, Islamophobic speech."