Israel tourism ad banned after Palestine campaign appeals

A campaigning group has succeeded in persuading the Advertising Standards Authority to ban an Israeli tourism advert after a successful appeal against the original decision.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign argued that the ad by the Israel Government Tourist Office was untruthful because it claimed that Qumran, the settlement nearest to the hiding place of the Dead Sea Scrolls, was in Israel. In fact, it is in the West Bank – part of the occupied territories recognised as illegal under international law.

The ASA initially rejected the complaint because it said that the ad, which ran in Radio Times, promoted Israel as a geographical region, not a political state. But the group appealed, pointing out that the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not consider the West Bank to be part of Israel.

“Since the West Bank does not belong to Israel, it could be said that its tourism office is advertising stolen goods,” Janet Green, a member of the PSC, told the ASA in her second complaint.

The ASA upheld the complaint and told ThinkIsrael.com, the trading arm of the Israel Government Tourist Office, to remove the ad. It also expressed concern that ThinkIsrael.com did not respond to ASA enquiries, which it is obliged to do under the Committee on Advertising Practice code, and has alerted the CAP.

A spokesman for the Israel Government Tourist Office said it had altered the ad to exclude Qumran.

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