Rabbis for Human Rights — North America is taking out subway ads urging riders to "choose love" in what the Jewish group's director calls a response to the anti-jihad advertisements placed in subway stations by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, the group led by conservative blogger Pamela Geller.
The new ads, which will go up Monday, make clear that they're a statement against the anti-jihad campaign, whose posters read, "In any way between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat jihad."
Rabbis for Human Rights' ads say, "“In the choice between love and hate, choose love. Help stop bigotry against our Muslim neighbors.”
"We were concerned beause [the ads] frames this in the language of supporting Israel," said Rabbi Jill Jacobs, the executive director of Rabbis for Human Rights, which has a membership of 1,800 rabbis. "We didn't want New Yorkers to think that in order to support Israel, you have to dehumanize a whole other group of people."
Geller insists that her ads attack only violent Muslims who hate Israel and that she feels the same way about other terrorists.
"These rabbis have good intentions," she wrote The Jewish Week in an e-mail in response to a request for comment. "I am all for choosing love. My own ad is not hate speech, it's love speech. It's love of life speech … Pushing back against such hate is not hate."
Rabbi Jacobs said Geller's writers define all Muslims as practitioners of jihad.
"We agree with her 100 percent that there's no excuse for terrorism," Rabbi Jacobs said. "But that's not an excuse to come after an entire group of people, just like we wouldn't want someone who's concerned about settlers to use that as an excuse for anti-Semitism."
Two Christian groups, Sojourners and United Methodist Women, also either have or will put up subway ads trying to counter Geller's, according to The New York Times.
Geller's posters went up late last month after her group won a lawsuit on free speech grounds against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which had tried to ban them.