Israel’s Supreme Court has condemned the mayor of Tel Aviv, Ron Huldai, for his ordering the removal of Middle East Forum (MEF)’s Israel Victory Project billboard on February 14, 2020.
During the run-up to Israel’s March 2020 election, the Middle East Forum sponsored several giant billboards in prominent Tel Aviv locations. They depicted both Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on their knees waving a white flag with the words “Peace is only made with defeated enemies.”
Within hours, Huldai (who recently announced his national political ambitions) ordered the billboards torn down because they “incited violence.” His spokesman even compared them to Nazi imagery.
The Supreme Court rejected Huldai’s action as unjustified, saying that he exceeded his authority in repressing MEF’s freedom of speech. The justices ruled that MEF may resubmit the billboards if it chooses to do so, and that the mayor must reconsider his former stance, “given the difficulties of that position.”
Justice Alex Stein wrote that Huldai “must refrain from exercising executive power in a manner that purports to dictate values and instill in citizens his personal ideology.”
The billboards were part of the Israel Victory Project’s campaign to convince Israelis that the only way to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict (and the attendant global hostility to Israel) is to force the Palestinians to give up their century-long campaign of rejectionism.
Nave Dromi, director of MEF’s Israel office, noted that “Ron Huldai’s impetuous, desperate, and illegal step reveals the weakness of his position.”
Daniel Pipes, MEF president, added that “MEF plans to repost the IVP billboards – just in time for new national elections and for Ron Huldai’s participation in them.”
Other actions being contemplated include suing Huldai and the Tel Aviv municipality for damages related to the destruction of the billboards, legal fees, and all other equitable relief.