UK

TfL 'Bars' Adverts From Zionist Group Comparing Hamas To ISIS

22/09/2014 16:12 BST | Updated 23/09/2014 09:59 BST

Transport for London has reportedly refused to run adverts from a British Zionist group which compared the Gaza Strip's Hamas to the Islamic State because they are "too political".

The Zionist Federation (ZF) planned a £12,000 campaign for London billboards and transport in the aftermath of the Israeli-Gaza conflict.

But the group told The Huffington Post UK that it had been unable to get any advertising company to distribute the posters on transport or on any billboards after a month of wrangling.

The first idea, which had an image of shoes with nails coming through the soles, said: "We're all in Israel's shoes now."

It also said ISIS and Hamas were both "enemies of the free world".

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One of the adverts pitched to the advertising distributors

Two other ideas were pitched, one with an an alarm clock attached to a bomb, another with a bomb on a breakfast table, both with the slogan 'Wake Up'.

The captions underneath said the "civilized world is under a dark new threat from religious extremists".

The caption continued: "While the dangers of ISIS may seem far away, Israelis are used to facing violent terrorism on their doorsteps... Isis, Hamas, Al Qaeda and the Taliban all share the same brutal ideology.

"Support Israelis and Palestinians by supporting the fight against Hamas terror."

A ZF spokesman said it had pitched to the advertising distributor who supplies TfL, explaining that the adverts would compare the actions of Hamas - which the ZF blames entirely for the Gaza conflict which claimed the lives of more than 2,000 Palestinians - to those of the Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS. But the company had replied that such an ad would be "too political" for TfL to run.

He said the group wanted to challenge some of the charities who called for aid to Gaza, including the Disaster Emergency Committee Appeal, and the adverts for Medical Aid for Palestinians and Islamic Relief.

The campaign was due to "unprecedented level of anti-Israel hostility in the UK", ZF said in a statement, but the agency which supplies adverts to TfL said the posters would be "too political", according to the ZF.

A TfL spokesperson said: “The adverts submitted for display on our network by Zionist Federation were not approved by our advertising contractor, Exterion Media. Exterion rejected the advert as it contravened our advertising policy which states that adverts will not be approved if they relate to a political cause.”

Three draft advertisements were also rejected by billboard companies, with all turned down despite the initial idea being accepted. "The ZF then began a lengthy process of altering imagery and wording to suit the supplier’s demands, but none of the modified adverts were deemed acceptable either," the group said in a statement.

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Various versions of the ad were rejected

The organisation's director Alan Aziz said: "During Protective Edge (the Israeli offensive in Gaza) we heard over and over again from our supporters that they wished there was some way to get Israel’s message out to the general public, given the inability of the media to explain how Israel was doing the best it could to avoid civilian casualties whilst facing a vicious terrorist enemy.

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"This inability bolstered the perception that Israel was committing ‘war crimes’ and ‘massacres’ – misconceptions that directly fuelled the explosion of antisemitism we experienced this summer.

“The ZF decided to take the lead and immediately began working on an eye-catching campaign that would clearly and memorably make the case that Hamas represents the same brand of evil as ISIS, and Israelis therefore have no choice but to defend themselves from these fanatics.

“We are very disappointed that these adverts were rejected, especially given the prominence of DEC’s Gaza Appeal adverts which appeared on the underground and buses, adverts which inadvertently supported the notion that Israel was waging a war on innocent children rather than targeting a terrorist infrastructure.”

The ZF's Campaign's Officer Chris Lawes told HuffPost UK that the campaign has now been shelved.

He added the group would not seek legal action, as happened in the case of the so-called 'gay cure' campaign which was banned from buses by Mayor Boris Johnson.