Israeli-Palestinian event refused advertising space for 'controversial' memorial service
A joint Israeli-Palestinian memorial service was denied digital advertising spaces by an Israeli company who feared the pro-peace messages could lead to a negative backlash for it, according to reports by Haaretz.
The Combatants for Peace movement had sought to hire 23 electronic billboards in Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan owned and operated by CTV in order to promote an annual ceremony.
The ads would display the Arabic and Hebrew-language messages: "We refuse to give in to incitement, we refuse to fight; we oppose the occupation and choose to remember together, even on the most difficult day."
Denying the group its services, CTV’s CEO Eilon Rosman told Combatants for Peace the ads "can cause me losses I can't even contemplate".
Rosman claimed they would also need the approval of both the Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan municipalities prior to the campaign.
This was denied by the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality who said that as CTV is a private company then no such approval is needed.
"The freedom of expression guarantees any advertising other than in exceptional cases where there is a risk of seriously offending public sensibilities or the values of society and state," explained a city official.
Combatants for Peace's Executive Director Yonatan Gher rejected the excuses provided by CTV and reminded the company of the "secular nature" of Israel.
"Just as secular society in Israel clarified to commercial companies that it was illegitimate to exclude women or members of the LGBTQ community, we will clarify that the exclusion of Palestinian society and Arabic from public spaces is unacceptable," he told Haaretz.
Haaretz reported that there was an initial agreement between Combatants for Peace and CTV, but the ad agency pulled out saying it could do the company financial harm.
When it was pointed out by Gher that CTV had featured political ads on their billboards during the recent Israeli election, Rosman claimed this was a different issue.
"We followed the election rules during the election campaign. It's not difficult to understand why from a commercial perspective this present case is problematic," he said.
A human rights lawyer working on behalf of Combatants for Peace has now called on the mayor of Tel Aviv to revoke CTV's licence citing wrongful discrimination and political censorship.
"The company's conduct sharply contravenes the pluralistic and liberal values of the municipality and of most of the city’s residents," said the lawyer to Haaretz.