Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Israeli Tourism poster mislead about occupied territories

An Israeli tourism poster has been found to breach advertising standards after it misleadingly implied that the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Golan Heights were part of the state of Israel.

The 'Experience Israel' poster showed a map of Israel which included the disputed territories, prompting 442 complaints from members of the public as well as from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Jews for Justice for Palestinians.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) Council agreed that the poster, distributed around London Underground in May, breached the advertising code on truthfulness and must not appear again in its current form. The posters were removed soon after the complaints were made.

The Israeli Government Tourist Office (IGTO) were similarly rapped when they published a map in the Radio Times in 2007 showing part of the West Bank as Israeli territory and for failing to respond to the ASA's correspondence.

The ASA said in its final adjudication on the Experience Israel poster: "We noted that the map showed border lines for the Gaza Strip and West Bank, but we also noted that those border lines were faintly produced and difficult to distinguish on the map itself."

"We understood that the borders and status of the occupied territories... were the subject of much international dispute, and because we considered that the ad implied that those territories were part of the state of Israel, we concluded that the ad was misleading."

The State of Israel Ministry of Tourism (SIMT), replying on behalf of the IGTO said that the map was not of a political nature, rather, "it gave potential visitors an idea of the location of the areas in and around Israel".

They further argued that any debate surrounding the disputed territories was political in nature and not relevant to a tourism advert.

According to the adjudication, the SIMT: "argued that the only impression a reasonable customer would get from the map was that it depicted the areas that could be practically reached and visited when travelling there."

Try telling that to the human rights activists who were arrested after trying to deliver aid to Gaza by sea.

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