ASA rules against Israel tourist board’s attempt to ‘wipe Palestine off the map’

Palestine mapped in green from  1948 - 2000

Palestine mapped in green from 1948 - 2000

Nearly 500 complaints that Israel’s tourist ministry was attempting to remove Palestine from the map have been upheld by the Advertising Standards  Authority.

In an adjudication released today (Wednesday 15 July), the ASA ruled that posters advertising Israel as a tourist destination had breached its Truthfulness clause by using a map that portrayed the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza and the Syrian Golan Heights as being part of Israel.

In actual fact, those three areas were illegally occupied by Israel in 1967. UN Resolution 242 demands Israel’s withdrawal from all three areas, as well as from East Jerusalem.

The posters, headlined ‘Experience Israel’, appeared on London Underground sites in May. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, together with Jews for Justice for Palestinians, wrote letters to the ASA and Transport for London asking for their removal.
The ASA received a total of 441 complaints, which it considered in its ruling. A further 600 complaints were received by Transport for London.

The Israeli Ministry of Tourism announced it would be removing the posters just a week after the first complaints were received.
In its ruling – made against the Israeli Government Tourist Office - the Investigations Executive of the ASA concluded that the ad  was misleading, as it implied that the West Bank and Gaza and the Golan Heights were part of Israel, thereby breaching CAP Code clause 7.1 (Truthfulness)The ASA said the ad must not appear again in its current form.

Hugh Lanning, chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said the decision was the right one.  He added: “At a time when Palestinian history, culture and memory are all under threat of extinction, this ruling by the ASA is welcome and significant.

“It demonstrates an awareness amongst a wider public, not just campaigners, that Palestine does exist and that it is struggling against an unjust and illegal occupation. This crude attempt by the Israeli tourist office to wipe Palestine off the map has rightfully failed. It was particularly sickening to see Gaza being included on a tourist map of Israel, when it is suffocating under  Israel’s brutal blockade.

“Only five months before the ad was rolled out across tube stations in London, Israel launched its horrific military assault on Gaza, killing over 1400 Palestinians. Israel is preventing even essential medicines and health workers from entering Gaza, and international solidarity workers are frequently blocked from entering the West Bank. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign would like to thank all those who took the time to complain about this advert.

“We note that this is the second time* the ASA has ruled against the use of misleading maps in tourist promotion of Israel. We call on all those responsible to ensure that in future, any similar adverts will not be displayed.”

The ruling is being published on the ASA’s website on July 15 at:
*The first ASA ruling was in April 2008 and concerned adverts placed in the Radio Times.

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