The removal of anti-Israel posters from London’s underground train network on Monday prompted sparring between Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and a political rival as to whose complaint to the British authorities had prompted the crackdown.
A spokeswoman for Transport for London, the authority responsible for the underground ‘Tube’ network, said the ads had been posted without authorization and constituted “an act of vandalism which we take extremely seriously.”
She did not elaborate, but her statement was prompted by Israeli media reports that as many as 500 posters condemning Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians had gone up as part of an annual “Israel Apartheid Week” organized by activists.
In Yerushalayim Yair Lapid, an opposition figure, said he had caused the removal of the posters by telephoning London Mayor Boris Johnson to complain.
“Since the government of Israel, as usual, did nothing, I talked to Johnson, a great friend of Israel, and explained to him that the state of Israel will not tolerate such things,” Lapid told lawmakers from his party.
Speaking shortly after, Netanyahu said he had requested that Dore Gold, a senior Israeli diplomat who was holding meetings in London, ask the British government to crack down on the ads.
“Whoever says we are not taking action is not telling the truth,” Netanyahu said.
Interviewed by Israeli broadcasters, Gold gave credit to Israel’s embassy in London, saying its staff had spotted the ads on Sunday and had flagged them up to British authorities as part of their anti-boycott campaigning.
Meanwhile, in the Chicago area, a billboard calling for “Boycott Israel until Palestinians have equal rights” was widely denounced and the advertising agency responsible for it promised to take it down. The ad itself was from the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign, or SEAMAC.
Lamar Advertising, which leases billboards throughout the country, announced that it would remove the billboard “as soon as possible.” The company said it had received a “large number” of social media comments and hundreds of telephone calls protesting the billboard located on a major highway about five miles from O’Hare Airport.