Israel Tourism Ministry slammed over 'misleading' ad

By Jessica Elgot, July 14, 2009
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An Israeli tourism poster displayed in London tube stations has been rapped in a ruling by the Advertising Standards Agency because a map showed the Occupied Territories merged into Israel.

The poster, which drew complaints from the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign and Jews for Justice for Palestinians, was part of a £40,000 Israeli Government Tourist Office “Think Israel” campaign.

In its ruling the ASA concluded that the poster was misleading, as it implied that the West Bank and Gaza and the Golan Heights were part of Israel.

It said the advert must not appear again in its current form.

An IGTO spokesperson said: “We try to promote the positive aspects of Israel. We don’t want to cause any controversy and therefore, in future, we will avoid any political connotations in our advertising.”

Hugh Lanning, chair of the PSC, said the decision was the right one.

“This crude attempt by the Israeli tourist office to wipe Palestine off the map has rightfully failed,” he said.

The ASA received a total of 441 complaints, including one from Jihad Makdissi, a spokesman for the Syrian Embassy in London.

The posters were due to go up in 150 places across the London Underground network, but only 108 had been displayed before Israeli officials decided to withdraw them.

IGTO is investigating the possibility of producing a new poster, without the contentious map, and putting it in the 42 sites where the others had not been displayed.

In March 2007, a similar complaint was made to the ASA after a tourist office advertisement in the Radio Times used a map of Israel showing Qumran, which is, in fact, in the West Bank.

Last updated: 3:04pm, July 22 2009