Amazon pulls ads with Nazi symbol following backlash

November 25, 2015  

A furious backlash has prompted Amazon to pull ads for a television show that featured the Nazi German eagle and Imperial Japan’s rising sun on the New York subway, AFP reported Tuesday.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) allowed the company to color seats on the Times Square shuttle with the symbols laid over the United States flag to promote “The Man in the High Castle.”

The show, which premiered last month, is set in the 1960s as if America had lost World War II — occupied by Nazi Germany in the east and the Empire of Japan in the west.

Based on the novel by Philip Dick, it portrays an America in which slavery is legal and Jews hide under assumed names.

But an official told AFP on Tuesday that the ads — which had been originally scheduled to run until next month — were being pulled.

Amazon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mayor Bill de Blasio led calls for the ads to be removed, saying they were offensive to World War II and Holocaust survivors, as well as to countless others.

New York is one of the most diverse metropolitan areas in the world, and after Tel Aviv is home to the world’s second largest Jewish population by city.

“Seeing the American flag paired with a Nazi symbol is viscerally offensive, because there is no context as to what it means,” said the Anti-Defamation League.

“We’re not saying that people don’t have a right to express themselves. We’re just saying that it has a level of insensitivity.”

New York state assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, who is Jewish, slammed what he called “vulgar and offensive advertising.”

“The MTA could have allowed this show to be advertised without using such offensive insignias. As a Jew I am offended, and as a New Yorker I am embarrassed,” he said, according to AFP.

Dinowitz demanded that the ads be pulled immediately and that the MTA issue a public apology.

“The MTA should be ashamed of themselves and this ignorant advertising campaign, as it is offensive not just to the Jewish community, but to all Americans,” he said.

Earlier this year, the MTA was involved in another controversy surrounding an advertisement, this one exposing Islamist anti-Semitism. A judge eventually ruled that New York City must allow its buses to display the controversial ad.

The ad in question – sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) – portrayed a masked Hamas terrorist next to a quote from Hamas’s official MTV TV station declaring that: “Killing Jews is worship that brings us close to Allah.”

The ad then asks: “That’s his jihad, what’s yours?”

The MTA had refused to run the ads, claiming it feared they could incite “violence and terrorism”. That decision prompted an appeal by the AFDI, whose lawyer David Yerushalmi ridiculed the suggestion the ads would incite terrorism. 

The judge eventually agreed, and said the ad should be run in accordance with the constitutional right to freedom of expression.

Amazon last month refused to remove controversial Halloween costumes of an IDF soldier and an “Arab” latex nose, which Arab-American groups pressured to have pulled.

In refusing to remove the costumes, Amazon did not follow in the footsteps of eBay and Walmart, both of which had stopped selling the controversial costumes.

AFP contributed to this report.

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