by Ron Friedman
Picture of Temple Mt. with Al-Aksa Mosque omitted removed for fear of vandalism.
A Pessah advertising campaign calling for the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem has been removed from Egged buses in the capital following complaints and threats of vandalism. Right wing group Our Land of Israel, who ordered the campaign, said it would sue Egged and Cna'an Advertising, the company that handles Egged's advertising services, for breach of contract.
The posters, which feature an artist's rendition of the temple alongside the quote "May the Temple be built swiftly in our lifetime," were placed on 200 Egged buses, on routes that travel through Jerusalem.
According to Our Land of Israel's Rabbi Shay Geffen, the campaign went up prior to the holiday, but was removed before schedule. "To our sorrow Egged backed down in response to pressures from left wing and Arab organizations. They didn't even notify us that they were taking down the posters," said Geffen.
"We might as well shelve all the Jewish holy books that call for the rebuilding of the temple too," said Geffen sarcastically. "These are words that every Jew utters three times a day in their prayers. I'm surprised that an established company like Egged would react in this way."
Our Land of Israel was founded by right wing activist Baruch Marzel and Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe in 2008. One of the group's most controversial goals is the construction of a third Temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, on the spot where the first and second Temple once stood. The aim is controversial since the proposed site currently houses the Al-Aksa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock and is regarded by Muslims as the third holiest site in Islam.
Egged spokesman, Ron Ratner, said that Egged had no say in the matter and referred requests for comment to the company in charge of renting out advertising space on the company's buses. "The advertising on Egged buses is in the hands of a private franchisee called Cna'an advertising in motion. In this case Egged had no influence on the quality or content of advertising and any decisions regarding the placement or removal of advertising was made by them alone and apparently according to their business considerations," said Ratner.
Cna'an Advertising's sales and marketing deputy director Ohad Gably, said the decision to remove the posters followed various complaints and threats of vandalism that were received at their offices. "After the campaign went up our office began receiving many requests from organizations and sectors demanding we remove the posters because they were hurtful. In some cases the requests verged on threats. To my regret and despite the financial losses the decision cost us, we were forced to remove the campaign after deciding that we had no intention to make matters worse and bring about the defilement of buses."