Pamela Geller, fresh off a court victory granting her the right to post anti-Islam ads on MTA buses, has posted a new, large billboard on the Metro-North train platform in Hartsdale. "19,250 DEADLY ISLAMIC ATTACKS SINCE 9/11/2001," the sign reads. "IT'S NOT ISLAMOPHOBIA. IT'S ISLAMOREALISM."
The ad was paid for by American Freedom Defense Initiative, the umbrella organization for Geller's Stop Islamization of America, an organization recently designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. (You may remember Geller from her role in the "Ground Zero Mosque" controversy.)
A local politician is, understandably, upset about the sign. "There are many Muslims residing in Greenburgh and in our villages," Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner told the Daily News. "They should not be discriminated against. The posters encourage hatred, discrimination and do not help the efforts to fight hate crimes."
Feiner also said the MTA should give profits from the sign to efforts to fight discrimination. "I feel it's not a violation of free speech for Metro North to put up a competing sign and it's also not a violation of free speech if they donate the profits to an anti-defamation league or an organization that objects to hate crimes," he said.
The Anti-Defamation League told NBC4 in a statement, “We believe these ads are highly offensive and inflammatory. Pro-Israel doesn’t mean anti-Muslim."
And Betsy Alderidge, who lives near the train station, told The Huffington Post in an email, "As a resident of the town, and an employee of the Museum of Jewish Heritage-A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, an institution dedicated to teaching about the dangers of propaganda and intolerance, and the importance of interfaith dialogue, I am offended by this sign, which serves no purpose other than to create conflict and spread a message of hate."
Geller defended the ad, telling the Daily News in an email:
"There is nothing hateful, mean-spirited, or offensive about opposing jihad terror. Are the facts offensive? It is, as the ad says, Islamorealistic. Islamic supremacist imams around the world foment violence, promote hatred, teach children to hate, and exhort Muslims to gain a place in Paradise by murdering infidels."
And this isn't the first time a Metro-North ad has caused controversy. Just one month ago, a Pro-Palestinian ad could be seen on train platforms along the MTA line.
The ad-- which read, "4.7 million Palestinians are Classified by the U.N. as Refugees," with maps showing dwindling Palestine land from 1946 to the present-- was paid for by Henry Clifford, the chairman of the Committee for Peace in Israel and Palestine.
The ADL called the signs "deliberately misleading and biased," while an MTA spokesman told The Journal News, "We do not decide to accept or reject a proposed ad based on the viewpoint that it expresses or because the ad might be controversial. The MTA does not endorse the viewpoint expressed in this ad, or any of the ads that it accepts for display."