(Photo: Twitter/Natasha Mozgovaya)
Jewish and Muslims groups are denouncing anti-Jihad advertisements recently placed in the New York City subway system, arguing that the advertisements imply that Israel is anti-Islamic, and also promote a sentiment of Islamophobia in the United States.
"The challenge for us now is to raise our voices to say that these ads don't represent and don't reflect the mainstream American Jewish community," Mark Pelavin, senior adviser at the Union for Reform Judaism and associate director of the Religious Action Center, told The Jewsih Daily Forward.
The controversial advertisements were recently posted in 10 subway stations in NYC. The advertisements read: "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad."
As Rabbi Marc Schneier, president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, told The Forward, the advertisements are dangerous because they imply all Israelis are anti-Muslim.
"People must understand that there is not a conflict between Muslims and Jews. The only conflict there is is between those who believe in coexistence and those who seek to destroy human rights," he said.
Muslim civil rights groups are also protesting the advertisements, saying the postings promote Islamophobia and hate.
"You are talking about people like me being called a 'savage,'" Linda Sarsour, the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, told the Guardian.
"It is all bubbling up. I know there is freedom of speech, but with freedom of speech comes responsibility. This promotes hate," she added.
Ibrahim Hooper, a director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations, also told the Guardian that the advertisements promote Islamophobia, or an irrational hatred for Muslims.
"They add to the overall picture of anti-Muslim feeling that is growing up in our nation," Hooper said.
The 10 advertisements, now up in 400 of the city's subway stations, are paid for and designed by the American Freedom Defense Initiative.
Pamela Geller, executive director of the AFDI, recently won a court order to post the advertisements in the NYC subways after the city's Metropolitan Transportation Authority initially rejected the advertisements, saying they had "demeaning" language.
According to The Associated Press, Geller called NYC's approval of the ads a "victory of the First Amendment."
The posting of the advertisements comes on the heels of deadly protests from Muslims in the Middle East, Asia and in some parts of Europe angered by the U.S.-made film "Innocence of Muslims," which they view as offensive to the prophet Muhammad.
Geller, however, has expressed that she has no qualms about the timing of her ads.
"What are you going to do? Are you going to reward Islamic extremism? I will not sacrifice my freedom so as not to offend savages," she told The Associated Press.
Geller, who was in charge of the initiative to stop what she refers to as the "Ground Zero Mosque," a mosque which was planned to be built a few blocks from the site of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, also posted the anti-Jihad advertisements on local buses in San Francisco in the beginning of September.
She is currently waiting to have her advertisements posted in the public transit system in Washington D.C.