The group whose plan to place bus ads alleging "Israeli war crimes" unleashed a furor last winter is now turning to billboards. The Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign has purchased space on four billboards for ads that say: "Equal rights for Palestinians — Stop funding the Israeli military."

The group whose plan to place bus ads alleging “Israeli war crimes” unleashed a furor last winter is now turning to billboards.

The Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign has purchased space on four billboards for ads that say: “Equal rights for Palestinians — Stop funding the Israeli military.”

The first two billboards went up this week on Elliott Avenue West north of West Lee Street, and on Lake City Way Northeast south of Northeast 104th Street.

The other two billboards go up next week on Aurora Avenue North — one near Republican Street and the other near North 104th Street.

Each will stay up four weeks.

Last winter, the group purchased bus ads to run on the sides of Metro buses. The King County-owned Metro Transit first accepted the ads and then canceled them after county leaders said they were advised by law-enforcement authorities that the ads could prompt attacks on buses or passengers.

The bus ads never ran.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Washington filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign, saying that King County violated the group’s First Amendment rights. That lawsuit, in U.S. District Court, is currently in the discovery phase.

Putting up billboards had been something Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign had always considered to get its message out, said member Peter Lippman.

“What we are trying to do is present this message in a way that’s more mainstream than posters and graffiti,” Lippman said.

Rob Jacobs, regional director of StandWithUs/Northwest, one of several Jewish groups that urged King County not to run the original bus ads, saying they feared doing so could lead to crimes against local Jews, said he disagrees with the message on the new billboards. But his group is not asking for the billboard ads to be taken down.

“It’s political speech,” he said. “Unlike the bus ads, it’s not making allegations of atrocities. StandWithUs’ strong belief is that the response to political speech is more speech.”

As such, Jacobs said, his group plans to put up its own billboards.

Janet I. Tu: 206-464-2272 or jtu@seattletimes.com. Information from The Seattle Times archives was used in this report.