All aboard for trips to 'you know where'

By Marcus Dysch, February 4, 2011

A travel firm has admitted that its advert for a tour of Israel fails to mention the country's name because it wanted to "avoid upsetting anyone".

Riviera Travel runs an eight-day trip to sample the "enduring appeal of Jerusalem, Galilee and the Dead Sea".

Michael Wright, Riviera's managing director, said Israel had been omitted due to the "overwhelming desire to avoid upsetting anyone". He added: "We are just tour operators."

He said the company had taken a lead from the Advertising Standards Authority, which banned an advert describing the Western Wall as part of Israel.

The adverts run in a number of national newspapers and magazines. They include information about excursions to Caesarea, Masada, Yad Vashem and Tel Aviv, but fail to mention the country's name at any point.

Mr Wright said: "This tour visits the Palestinian Territories and we were unsure if people reading the promotion would relate this to Gaza and the negative effect this would have. Also, if we include Israel, we should technically include the Palestinian Territories, or this would upset some people too.

"We would be the first to admit we are not politicians and have no intention of becoming embroiled in the delicate politics of the region."

Rabbi Geoffrey Shisler of London's New West End Synagogue was one of those who complained.

He said: "I'm very disappointed. What is happening is a delegitimisation of Israel. I'm not saying Riviera did it deliberately, but what worries me is that the overall effect of their actions is further support for those who want to delegitimise Israel."

● UK Trade and Investment has explained its reason for omitting Israel from promotional material for a Middle East trade initiative.

A week of events in March will encourage British investment. A dozen countries, including Iraq, Syria and Palestine, were listed on an initial leaflet, but not Israel. A UK TI spokeswoman said Israel had not confirmed its participation when the leaflet was first printed, but said it would be updated.

Last updated: 10:33am, February 4 2011