Mainstream Jewish groups call the ad “offensive and inflammatory,” and many New Yorkers worry that it might provoke a violent reaction.
“I understand free speech, but on a visceral level you feel like you have a bull’s eye on your back,” says Doug Muzzio, a professor at Baruch University and a subway rider. “I just tweeted that I don’t want to be a victim of Muslim rage.”
The ads are coming at a time of high tensions over the anti-Muslim YouTube video, “The Innocence of Muslims,” which was seen as insulting the Prophet Mohammed and which led to a surge of anti-American violence in the Arab world. The US ambassador to Libya was among four Americans killed in an attack in Benghazi.
On Friday, the violence overseas continued with 17 people reported killed in Pakistan in anti-Western protests. The high tension is the reason the Washington, D.C., transit system has said it wants to “defer” running the ads. On Thursday the ad’s sponsors filed a lawsuit against the Washington Metro system challenging the action.
“When is a good time?” asks Geller in a phone interview. “There is never a good time.”
Geller defends the ads, saying they are a recognition of reality. “Those ads are accurate,” she says, citing Hamas attacks on Israel and the July attack on Israeli citizens in Bulgaria. “Isn’t that savagery?” she asks.