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MBTA board bans political issue ads

New policy approved after backlash to ad critical of Israel
An anti-Israel ad placed in the Red Line's Davis station sparked controversy.METRO FILE

An ad in an MBTA station that was critical of U.S. military support for Israel is set to come down under a policy adopted by T board members Monday.

Updated advertising guidelines would ban from T property all ads addressing “political issues or matters of public debate.” It would take effect in December. The vote from the MBTA’s fiscal and management control board was unanimous.

The restriction covers “an opinion, position or viewpoint on a matter of public debate about economic, political, moral, religious or social issues.”

RELATED: Anti-Israel MBTA ad sparks controversy

The ad at the center of the debate is one that featured a picture of a young girl and called attention to the deaths of Palestinian children amid conflict with Israel. The single advertisementhung in Davis station as of Monday.

|<image-caption><p>This ad, placed by a group called the Palestine Advocacy Project, sparked controve|SPENCER BUELL/METRO

Before the decision, dozens turned out to the meeting of the MBTA fiscal and management control board to offer passionate opposition to the ad and the policy that allowed it to run.

Speakers claimed the ad promoted violence against Jewish people and called it inaccurate.

Charles Jacobs, president of the Watertown-based Americans for Peace and Tolerance, called it “slander against the Jewish people” and said it would “incite hatred against my community.”

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A leader from the group behind the ad defended it, to boos and shouting from opponents.

“We have the right to criticize government,” said Richard Colbath-Hess, treasurer for the Palestine Advocacy Project.

The new policy also bans ads for electronic cigarettes.

Existing policy forbids ads that promote smoking, alcohol, firearms, political campaigns or “adult” goods and services. It also prohibits profanity and hate-speech.

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