An advertising campaign on London buses for a pro-Palestinian rally inspired by Iran has angered Jewish groups but Transport for London (TfL) has refused to remove the posters.
The groups said that while the ad campaign on more than 400 London buses described the annual Al-Quds Day march as an event about "the freedom of the Palestinians", the organisation founding the event posted anti-Israel comments on its website.
Despite complaints, TfL refused to withdraw the posters. The rally will take place on 17 August and the posters were scheduled to be removed soon, though a spokesman said TFL was reviewing its advertisement policy.
"We share unease over any advertisement which can be viewed as being political. We are therefore reviewing our advertising policy to address this issue in future," the spokesman told the Times of Israel.
"The advertisements in question, which are similar to advertisements which ran on our network last year, will be off the system in a few days. In the meantime, no similar advertisements will be accepted until such time as the policy review has been completed."
StandWithUs UK, an international, non-profit pro-Israel organisation, said TfL's decision not to remove the ads was disappointing and could turn out to be "dangerous".
Extremist and hateful agenda
Gili Brenner, StandWithUs UK executive told IBTimes UK: "If the decision is not to remove the ads, then the residents of London have a serious reason to be concerned about who gets to have the final say in their city. The Iran-backed groups behind the ads have an extremist and hateful agenda, and the purpose of Al-Quds Day is clear: calling for the destruction of Israel.
"As such, the ads are in clear breach of various TFL and Advertising Standards Authority clauses, and by keeping them TFL is acting unlawfully. Considering TFL banned adverts earlier in the year from a Christian organisation claiming to be able to cure gays, the decision screams double standards.
"I am disappointed as we have had positive correspondence about the issue with the mayor's office and still hope to see the ads removed. Make no mistake about it, the same logic which rejects a minute of silence to commemorate the 1972 athletes at the Olympics is at work here. It is called pandering to extremism and it is not liberal or enlightened. It is dangerous."
Al Quds Day, was established by the late Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran as an expression of solidarity with the Palestinian people and in opposition to the Israeli control of Jerusalem.
The Jewish Leadership Council and the Board of Deputies of British Jews called for the advertisement campaign to be pulled immediately.
They complained that the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), which organises the event in London, posted anti-Israel comments on its website. One said: "Rise, destroy Israel and replace it with the heroic Palestinian nation."
The IHRC has denied it has a close relationship with the Iranian government.
"We usually do not respond to unfounded allegations. Our work speaks for itsef," a spokesperson told IBTimes UK. "We have consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council and work in collaboration with several international organisations."