Advertising regulator will not investigate paper over ‘Israel genocide’ claim

One Camden New Journal reader said he was shocked by the ‘inflamatory’ language


The ASA said 'advertisers have rights of freedom of expression under the law' (Photo: Theo Morgan)

The advertising regulator will not take action over an advert published in a local paper that accused Israel of “genocide”.

Last month, the Camden New Journal ran an ad publicising events run by a charity, the Camden Abu Dis Friendship Association (CADFA).

"Ceasefire now! End the genocide!” it read.

“Let’s talk about Palestine. Come and hear Palestinian speakers, learn more about Palestine, discuss local work for human rights and an end to apartheid in Israel/Palestine.”

One reader who compained to the Camden New Journal over the words told the JC they were shocked to find such provocative language about the Israel Hamas conflict in a mainstream publication.

Theo Morgan said: “I was rather taken aback to see such inflammatory language in a mainstream newspaper like this.

"‘Genocide’ is a contentious and offensive term.”

Morgan contacted Camden New Journal to complain about the  “spurious claims of ‘genocide’ and ‘apartheid’” but was dismissed.

Editor Richard Osley replied to him: “We do not think this advert on p12 of the CNJ has led to an increased community tensions in Camden, but we will monitor any wider effect that this booking has caused.

“In our editorial decisions, we believe we have stepped sensitively through this issue, which clearly invokes very contrasting opinions, and our hope is for local community cohesion.”

Morgan then complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), but was again rebuffed.

“We received a complaint about an ad in a local newspaper, for meetings hosted by Palestinian speakers,” a spokesperson told The Telegraph.

“The complainant argued that the words the ad used describing the current situation in the region were offensive.

“We recognise that, while there are many opinions about this issue, advertisers have rights of freedom of expression under the law.

“We have to carefully balance protecting the public from ads likely to cause serious or widespread offence with the importance of not unduly restricting the expression of views on matters of public debate.

“Following a review, we’ve determined that there isn’t a case for us investigating these ad claims further.”

Pro-Israel campaigners have condemned the CADFA advert as “misleading as well as offensive”.

It may have breached chapters three and four of the ASA’s non-broadcast advertising code, Jonathan Turner, the chief executive of campaign group UK Lawyers for Israel has claimed.

Chapter three prohibits misleading advertising while chapter four bans adverts from inciting "harm or serious or widespread offence”.

“The complainant should request a review by the Independent Reviewer of ASA Rulings on the ground that the ASA has not considered the misleading character of this advertisement,” Turner told The Telegraph.

CADFA, the ASA and the Camden New Journal have been contacted for comment.

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