If you are out and about in San Francisco, you may have noticed ads on the sides of Muni buses that refer to Israel’s enemies as “savages.” The ads are raising questions about the kind of advertising public agencies can accept.

The ads read: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat jihad.”

The ad has offended some San Franciscans, who have expressed their reactions on Twitter. For example:

Pamela Geller, who purchased the ads, had been waiting for approval from Muni for months, she tells KQED’s Aarti Shahani. She says approval came the same day a federal judge ruled that New York City violated Geller’s free speech rights by refusing an identical campaign there.

Geller said she bought the ads in response to advertising that called for ending U.S. aid to Israel. “I wanted to counter that message,” she said.

Why the word “savage?”

Here’s Geller’s explanation:

Because any targeting of innocent civilians is savagery. Mothers and children on a bus are targeted, and that is savagery. Kidnapping and murdering is savagery. The U.S. does not conduct war that way, and neither does Israel. Now, there is sometimes the accidental death of civilians, which is far different than the targeting of innocent civilians.

The ads are scheduled to run through the end of the month. But some people would like to stop them sooner.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations is supporting a petition to stop the ads. CAIR’s San Francisco executive director told Aarti Shahani that she would like Muni to formulate a policy prohibiting hate speech:

We’re hearing from members of the community, both Arabs and Muslims and otherwise, like interfaith and civil rights alike, saying, ‘We don’t feel comfortable boarding buses that label an entire community savage.’

Manhattan district judge Paul A. Engelmayer’s decision to allow the ads in New York does not end the possibility of banning such ads, Shahani says, because Engelmayer did not say all such ads must automatically be allowed. Instead he ruled that the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s policy was unconstitutional because it appeared to ban speech that impugned some groups and not others.

According to the New York Times:

(H)e even offered examples, like “Southerners are bigots,” “Upper West Siders are elitist snobs,” “Fat people are slobs,” “Blondes are bimbos” and “Lawyers are sleazebags.”

Aarti says the MTC is appealing Engelmayer’s decision.

Update at 4:10 p.m: Muni spokesman Paul Rose told Aarti the agency has gotten some complaints about the ad campaign, but that’s not unusual. It has never removed ads before the contract to display them ended. Will this be a first?

We understand how this ad might be offensive, but we are limited in what we can do… We’re exploring  options in light of First Amendment issues, our ad policy and our contractual obligations.

Muni Bus Ads Call Israel’s Enemies ‘Savages’ 13 August,2012Laird Harrison

  • CarlotaG

    “Because any targeting of innocent civilians is savagery…” then Israel is one of the most savage civilizations on earth. How many tens of thousands of innocent Palestinians have been bombed, tortured, imprisoned and driven from their land by Zionist zealots? The outrageous hypocrisy of Pamela Geller turns my stomach.

    • Osman

      Geller has supporters and she know she can get away bigotry becasue anything collectively against the Muslims is fair game.

      • Nick

        The problem you need to address is how the savages who carry out acts of terrorism aboard buses in Israel (as they did in London) see innocent women and children as “fair game”.

        True or false?

        And anyone who supports such savages, who are directly opposed to the civilised world, has a screw loose from their moral compass. Because what they are supporting is evil – suicide bombers and terrorists who climb aboard a bus with explosives strapped to their guts, who sit and watch women and children all around them, and then self-detonate, are evil, and any and all so called “moderate” Muslim groups around the world ought to be running bus ads like this themselves.

        But they don’t.

        So someone else did.

        • The problem we need to address is state sponsored pogoms carried out by fanatical settlers on a regular basis used as a tactic to appropriate (steal) more land for the apartheid state of Israel.

          • Nick

            I suggest you stop drinking the kool-aid and come back to reality. Spouting off jihad-friendly propaganda does you no credit whatsoever.

            Which bus would you rather take a journey in? One with a sign on the side? Or one with a savage aboard who shouted out the takbir then set off a bomb halfway through your trip, killing you and your children?

            I repeat: so-called “moderate” Muslim groups ought to have been running ads like this non stop since 9/11, or at least since the bus bombings in London on 7/7 – in order to condemn the actions of the so-called “radical” Muslims who have “hijacked” the “religion of peace”.

            But they haven’t.

            So someone else (finally) did.

          • Nick

            The problem you need to address is how the savages who carry out acts
            of terrorism aboard buses in Israel (as they did in London on 7/7) see
            innocent women and children as “fair game”.

            True or false?

          • Ayelyah

            …proven false flag operations….. zionists have been caught out…but of course you wont see or hear that on mainstream media as they are all zionist owned and controlled….wake up people!

        • Ayelyah

          Do your due diligence before you parrot off zionist mainstream media propaganda…obviously you are completely ignorant of false flags, CIA homegrown terrorists, agent provocateurs and your own government funded, aided, armed terrorists…the demonization of Islam and muslims serves as a smokescreen…a global diversion while they accelerate land theft of Palestine, illegal settlements and crimes against humanity.

    • Nick

      A tu quoque move – really? That belongs in the school playground.

      (It’s also based on lies btw. Do try to educate yourself before commenting in a public forum.)

      Do try to address the issue at hand. Consider the London bombings. That cowardly terrorist attack was committed by savages. And the term applies whether such a person commits such an act in England or Israel. Suicide bombers and terrorists are savages.

      They are not civilised people, able to act in a civilised manner. No civilised person would strap on a suicide bomber’s belt of explosives and ball bearings, get aboard a bus with women and children aboard, sit and watch kids playing with their mothers, and then blow themselves up, committing an act of murder at the same time. These savages choose to exit this world in the most brutal and murderous fashion imaginable. Suicide bombers are indeed savages, and any civilised person will support the civilised world – not terrorists.

      Saying that is not “racist” nor does it entail the assertion that “all Muslims are terrorists”. That just does not follow from what is actually said in this ad. The savages who commit acts of terrorism are condemned, and that is all.

      Of course if some Muslim groups want to align themselves with the savages who commit acts of terrorism that raises some interesting questions – not about these ads, or about Pam Geller, but about the beliefs of these so-called “moderate” Muslim groups.

      • William Gardella

        Um, suicide bombers aren’t mentioned in the ad itself either (only in Pamela Geller’s post-hoc justification of it). The content of the ad itself is apparently that any force Israel might be at war with is a savage; reading between the lines, this sounds more like pro-war with Iran propaganda than anything else.

        • Nick

          Quote: “Defeat Jihad”. Are you seriously trying to say that suicide bombers who commit acts of terrorism by blowing themselves up aboard a bus full of people aren’t engaged in jihad? That they don’t yell out the takbir before self-detonating?

          Because they are, and they do.

          And any morally sane person living in a civilised country ought to condemn the horrors that London experienced on 7/7, and which Israel has experienced on a daily basis for many years. So-called “moderate” Muslim groups ought to condemn such savagery, and ought to have been running adverts like this for years.

          But they haven’t.

          So someone else did.

          About time, too.

  • Nick

    People who blow themselves up and by doing so murder innocents are indeed savages. Terrorists who murder Israeli civilians aboard civilian buses are indeed savages. They are savages in Israel, just as if anyone carrying out a terrorist attack against civilians in America, or the United Kingdom, or Spain, are savages. Oh wait, that’s already happened ….

    Saying that suicide bombers are savages is not racist nor does this ad mention Muslims at all, let alone all Muslims.

    The only people who seem to be labelling all Muslims here are the Muslims groups themselves who are complaining about the ads! And the only reason they’d consider themselves to be on the same side as suicide bombers and terrorists is if they believe the same things the terrorists and suicide bombers do – but they just don’t have the stones to strap on that backpack … yet.

    If these groups were really “moderate” then they’d not only be applauding these ads, they’d be running them themselves, in order to condemn the “radicals” who have “hijacked” their “peaceful religion”.

  • Nick

    Might I add that it is the people who issue obvious lies, and condemn Israel out of hand, with no concern for the truth whatsoever, who are guilty of “blatant racism” – as are the savages who commit atrocities against Israeli citizens. A simple and obvious truth which isn’t pointed out nearly often enough.

  • Moe

    Israel has committed more crimes against humanity than anyone, that is savagery. Killing men, women and children is savagery, Demolishing Palestinian homes is savagery. The difference is Israel has much better public relations by far than the Palestinians. They always manage to paint themselves as the victim and therefore can justify killing saints and getaway with it. I hope that one day the world will see the Israeli government and it’s policies for what they truly are – Pure Savagery and Evil.


    • truthteller

      Islam has caused more crimes against humanity than anyone, that is savagery. Killing men, women and children is savagery. Demolishing the WTC was savagery, blowing up buses in London was savagery, the bombs at Madrid and Bali: savagery. Mumbai: savagery. The difference is Islam benefits from much better public relations by far than Israel. The media in the West always managed to paint Muslims as victims, even when the specific Muslims they are writing about are clearly not victims, and thereby justify ignoring the facts of the matter, which is that Christians, women, and indeed non-Muslims are regularly and systematically persecuted in the most savage fashion in Islamic countries throughout the world, and terrorist attacks continue to occur in the name of Islam, in Israel and throughout the world, all these years after 9/11. I hope that one day the world will see (and I include the human beings who have been taught to think of themselves as Muslims in this, perhaps more than anyone else) that Islam, that ideology of cruelty, discrimination and conquest will be seen for what it is – pure savagery and evil.

  • Edward

    Islamofascists and their puppets have committed more Crimes Against Humanity than any other group since WW2.
    – 9/11
    – Londons 7/7/05 transport bombings
    – Pan Am 103
    – Mumbai India massacre
    – 1993 truck bombing of the WTC
    – Assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy
    – Death threats (fatwa) against writers like Salman Rushdie
    – Death threats (fatwa) against cartoonists (Danish and South Park)
    – Times Square SUV bomber
    – Syria – (20,000 dead) – Where are the “anti-war” activists???
    – Honor killing of girls for “family honor”
    – Hanging homosexuals in the Islamic Republic of Iran
    – 8 year Iraq/Iran war
    – Poison gas attack (that’s a WMD) on the Kurds of Halabja Iraq – 5,000 dead
    – Beslan school massacre
    – Kidnapping and beheadings (video taped) of people like journalist Daniel Pearl
    – Calls for genocide by the Islamic Republic of Iran
    – Muslim Only roads and cities like Mecca in Saudi Arabia

    Why is it “counter revolutionary” to oppose fascism – the Islamist kind?

    • MarkS

      Does using words like ‘savages’ really further a positive peace oriented discussion? Frankly, I think it demeans the position being put forward. I don’t believe it ever weakens a position to be polite. In fact, it may cost one allies to be unnecessarily rude like this Muni ad.

      • truthteller

        Jihad doesn’t really further a positive peace oriented discussion.

        Does it?

        And yet while jihadis actually blow themselves up aboard buses, killing innocent women and children, as they did in London and as they have done in Israel many times, here are people complaining about a 3′ sign on the side of a bus.

        Interesting to see so many people ignore the former, but complain about the latter.

  • MarkS

    As my mother would say . . . ‘it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.’

    • truthteller

      Which means what exactly? Be precise.

  • According to the MTA’s own ad policy (vhttp://www.sfmta.com/cms/aprocurement/advindx.htm), they shouldn’t have accepted this ad, as “savages” is a “clearly defamatory” term.

    • truthteller

      Jihad is a savage activity. It should be roundly condemned by all and sundry, especially by “moderate” Muslim groups.

      Don’t you agree?

  • I also don’t see the required language: “The views expressed in this advertisement do not necessarily reflect the views of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.”

  • garnet

    These “ads” are totally offensive. Shame on San Francisco for allowing this

  • Ayelyah

    every deceitful and criminal move they make is backfiring on them… a vastly growing awakened global population no longer fall for this zionist propaganda….

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