Advert that put Jerusalem in Palestine censured

The offending advert

The offending advert

The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint against an official Palestinian tourism advert for including Jerusalem as part of Palestine.

The Travel Palestine advert, which appeared in National Geographic Traveler magazine in January, attracted 149 complaints to the ASA including from the Board of Deputies, the Zionist Federation and the Manchester Jewish Representative Council.

The ASA said that the advert should not reappear in its present form and that Travel Palestine should "not suggest that it was universally accepted that locations were part of Palestine when that was not the case".

But two other grounds of complaint were rejected.

The advert stated: "Palestine is a land rich in history with a tradition of hospitality. From the famous cities of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jericho, Nablus and Gaza, the Palestinian welcomes you to this Holy Land."

Palestine was a "wonderful country," which "lies between the Mediterranean Coast and the Jordan River."

Complainants objected on three grounds: that Palestine was not a recognised country: that the advert suggested the whole area between the Mediterranean and the Jordan was "Palestinian-administered": and that Jerusalem was part of Palestinian-run territory rather than Israel.

But in its verdict, published on Wednesday, the ASA said that although the status of Jerusalem was disputed, the advert had been misleading in suggesting that the listed cities were universally accepted as part of Palestine.

But it said that the advert had not claimed that Palestine was a "recognised country" or that Palestinian-administered territory covered the whole area between the sea and the river.

Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies, said: "Misinformation and delegitimisation of Israel needs to be met head to head and toe to toe in every case."

But Manchester Rep Council president Lucille Cohen said there was "some disappointment" that not all three parts of the complaint had been upheld.

Barry Kaye, of Devon, one of the complainants, has now written back to the ASA to argue that its ruling did not go far enough.

Tourism adverts have increasingly become a bone of contention. The ASA caused an outcry from Jewish organisations last year when it upheld a complaint from the Israel Government Tourism Office for including the Western Wall as part of Israel rather than the Occupied Territories.

The Board revealed this week that it had intervened with another tourism company after it had advertised trips in a different magazine to "ancient Palestine", omitting any mention of Israel.

Mr Benjamin said that after an approach from the Board, the company decided to replace the term "ancient Palestine" with references to "the Holy Land" and "Israel and the West Bank".

Last updated: 10:54am, March 21 2011