Israel blasted over 'truth' of scroll ad

The Israeli Government Tourist Office was this week forced to change its ThinkIsrael advert following a ruling from the Advertising Standards Authority that it was misleading and breached its code of conduct.

The magazine advert promoting Israel displayed images of well-known landmarks, including Qumran, the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, with text stating: “You can travel the entire length of Israel in six hours.”

The ASA said that the image, together with the text, implied that Qumran was in Israel. Since Qumran is in the West Bank, it therefore considered the advert was misleading. Expressing concern that IGTO did not respond to its initial enquiries, the ASA said the advert was in breach of two regulations of the advertising code non-response, and truthfulness. It told IGTO the advert should be withdrawn.

Janet Green, who saw the advert in the Radio Times, said: “I thought, ‘I am sure Qumran is not in Israel. Why are they claiming it is?’ I checked and then I made my official complaint. I was very pleased to see that they have agreed with me.”

IGTO has now amended the advert, replacing the Qumran image with one of the desert fortress, Masada. Director Uzi Gafni said: “We did not say Qumran was in Israel so did not think about the implications.”

    Last updated: 3:23pm, June 8 2008