So it’s battle of the belligerent? Neither side here – Israel nor the Palestinian Authority – have much credibility with peace, understanding or recognition. If the Zionist lobby is pleased now, let’s not forget they completely ignored the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in previous ads of their own.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews today welcomed the launch of an official investigation into a Palestinian holiday advert, after complaining that it ignored the existence of Israel.
According to the advert from the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, appearing in this month’s edition of National Geographic’s Traveller magazine, “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 people welcome you to visit this Holy Land.”
It continues: “Starting from the earliest religious pilgrims, the country has seen famous visitors come and go.
“Palestine lies between the Mediterranean coast and Jordan River, at the crossroads between Africa and Middle East. It takes a visit to this wonderful country to appreciate the most palpable facet of its culture: the warmth and humour of the Palestine people.”
The Advertising Standards Authority received 60 complaints from individuals and organisations, including the Board of Deputies, which accused the advert of being “deeply disturbing” and “an affront to international law”. The ASA is now investigating the complaints.
A London lawyer, David Lewis, said it was “like describing Portugal as lying between the Mediterranean and Atlantic Ocean”.
In a letter to the ASA, Lewis wrote: “At the very least it implies that ‘Palestine’ has a Mediterranean coastline; but while this is true as regards to Gaza, that territory is not within the de facto jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority. More seriously, it implies that Palestine occupies the whole or the bulk of the territory between the Mediterranean and the Jordan, ignoring the existence of Israel.”
The Board of Deputies chief executive, Jon Benjamin, said he was pleased by the decision and hoped an “objective review” would “result in the necessary action”.
Last year two Israeli government tourist office ad campaigns fell foul of the ASA.
One included images of the Palestinian-run West Bank in a holiday advert. The ASA said it featured various landmarks that were in east Jerusalem, which were part of the occupied territories, and ordered that it not be used again.
The other depicted the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights – also part of the occupied territories – as part of Israel.