Two Dutch activists have issued a complaint against GoIsrael, the
Israeli Tourism Office, for misleading and untruthful advertising.
In GoIsrael’s advertising, in brochures, as well as its website, Occupied
Palestinian Territories are shown as part of Israel. Examples of
untruthful and misleading representation are important Palestinian
cities such as Beit Sahur, Bethlehem, Jericho, and Nablus portrayed as
Israeli. In some tourism brochures, the Palestinian identity of certain
cities is obscured by use of biblical place names, such as Shechem
instead of Nablus.
GoIsrael’s material doesn’t differentiate between West and East
Jerusalem. The Temple Mount, for example, which according to
international law is part of the OPT, is shown as an Israeli tourist
site. The brochure, “Biblical sites for Christian visitors,” states that
“In 1967, Jerusalem was reunited and regained its status as [the] eternal
capital of the Jewish people, with freedom for all religions.”
The activists’ lawyer, Mr. Phon van den Biesen, argues that, “GoIsrael
presents itself as a host who receives guests in the house of his
neighbours, but acts as if the house is his.” The Reclame Code
Commissie, which is the Dutch Advertising Standards Authority, agrees
with the Dutch activists that GoIsrael’s advertising is dishonest and
misleading and are against the Advertising Code. The Committee
advises GoIsrael to stop with this misleading way of advertising.
Israel has embarked on an active campaign to promote tourism. It has
reserved $2.4 million for tourism to the Occupied Territories. In October, the annual OECD Tourism Conference will be held in Jerusalem.
The activists hope to use the verdict of the Reclame Code Commissie to
counter any future misleading advertising.