A Jewish advocacy group is steaming after a classical radio station in New York refused to run an ad that described the daily threat of missile attacks facing Israelis in the Gaza border city of Sderot.
WQXR, which is owned by The New York Times, decided not to run the 60-spot from the American Jewish Committee because it was out of the bounds of acceptability and could alarm the station's American listeners.
AJC Executive Director David Harris issued a lengthy statement on the group's Web site decrying the decision as an attempt to "silence" the group's viewpoint.
Harris complained the station's managers wanted acknowledgment of Israel's own military actions in the ad. He wrote, "In other words ... the only way to broadcast the plight of Sderot's residents over the airwaves is to equate Israel's right of self-defense with Hamas' and Islamic Jihad's right to strike Israel at will."
He continued: "I can only imagine what would have been the response had we done a spot during the London blitz. Would it have been turned down as well, perhaps on the grounds that we failed to refer to reciprocal British military actions against Nazi Germany?"
Harris said he's done a weekly 60-second radio spot broadcast nationally for the past seven years on the CBS Radio network, and that earlier this year tried to expand through WQXR.
The latest ad stirring controversy starts with Harris describing the countdown to a missile attack in Sderot, on the border of the Gaza Strip.
"Fifteen seconds. Imagine you had 15 seconds to find shelter from an incoming missile. Fifteen seconds to locate your children, help an elderly relative, assist a disabled person to find shelter. That's all the residents of Sderot and neighboring Israeli towns have," he says. "Day or night, the sirens go on. Fifteen seconds later, the missiles, fired from Hamas-controlled Gaza, hit. They could hit a home, a school, a hospital. Their aim is to kill and wound and demoralize. Imagine yourself in that situation."
The ad ends with a countdown as Harris says, "The time to seek shelter has ended. The missiles hit." He then asks listeners to visit his group's Web site.
Catherine Mathis, senior vice president of corporate communications for The New York Times, said in a statement that the radio station ran eight other AJC ads read by Harris over the past three months, but that his March 31 ad about the missile attacks went too far.
"This specific ad was rejected for several reasons. Primary among them was the concern that the message does not make clear that the potential target of the missile is not our listening area and, as a consequence, runs the risk of raising anxiety in a misleading way," she said.Click here to read and hear the full ad.