Complaints over Palestine advert 'distortion'

By Jennifer Lipman, January 10, 2011

Jewish organisations have condemned as misleading an advert that appeared in National Geographic Traveler magazine for implying that Palestine extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.

The Zionist Federation, which has complained to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), said the advert also gave “false impressions” by describing Palestine as a country and suggesting that the city of Hebron was under Palestinian control.

The advert, which appeared in this month’s edition of the magazine, invited tourists to visit the famous city of Jerusalem, but makes no mention of Israel.

It stated: “Palestine lies between the Mediterranean coast and the Jordan River, at the crossroads between Africa and the Middle East.”

This contradicts what is written on the Travel Palestine website, which says Palestine comprises the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on the eastern Mediterranean coast.

The only vague reference to the Jewish state in the advert is a comment that the Holy Land” is “important to the three major religions around the world”.

Jonathan Turner, head of the ZF legal group, said: “This advertisement would mislead tourist, since on travelling to territory controlled by the Palestinian Authority, they would not find the sites and facilities which the advertisement promotes.

“To visit these sites and use these facilities, tourists would have to enter Israel."

Vivian Wineman, president of the Board of Deputies, called on the ASA to take immediate action to correct “this dangerous distortion of fact.”

He said: “We find it deeply disturbing that, at this crucial period in the Middle East peace process, Israel’s very existence is being denied by an advertisement in an international publication.”

Last August the ASA upheld a ban on an Israel Government Tourist Office (IGTO) holiday advert depicting the Western Wall as part of Israel.

The image showed the gold Dome of the Rock in the background under the caption “Jerusalem.”

Mr Turner said the Palestine advert was “much more objectionable” because the objection to the IGTO advert “was purely political and did not have any practical consequences for tourists”.

He said that having ruled against the Israel Government Tourist Office in Case 114921, the ASA would display bias if it were not object to this advertisement on similar grounds.

According to its website, National Geographic Traveler is the world’s most widely read travel magazine and is dedicated to offering readers “solid service information”.

Last updated: 5:29pm, January 10 2011