London – A tourism campaign depicting the areas of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights as part of Israel has been banned by the advertising watchdog following hundreds of complaints.
The poster campaign, run by the Israeli Government Tourist Office, ran with the headline “experience Israel” with a picture of a boy snorkelling with dolphins. The ad featured a map of Israel that included the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights.
The Advertising Standards Authority received complaints from 442 members of the public, as well as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Jews for Justice for Palestinians, that the poster misleadingly implied that these areas were internationally recognised as part of Israel.
The State of Israel Ministry of Tourism, replying on behalf of the IGTO, said the map was a “general schematic tourism and travel map, rather than a political map”. SIMT argued that the complaints were political in nature and not relevant to a tourist ad.
The ASA noted that the ad implied that all areas featured on the map were part of the state of Israel and that the border lines for the contested regions were “faintly produced and difficult to distinguish”.
“We understood that the borders and status of the occupied territories of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights were the subject of much international dispute,” said the ASA in its ruling. “And because we considered that the ad implied that those territories were part of the state of Israel, we concluded that the ad was misleading”.
The ad was banned from appearing in the same form again.