UPDATED: Israeli campaign to attract UK tourists wipes Palestine and Syria off the map

Detail of an Israeli map appearing in the Guardian last weekend (full view).

Frank Barat

Update: After “hundreds” of complaints, the Guardian has refused to publish subsequent ads from the Israeli tourism ministry. See full update below.

An Israeli tourism map appearing in the Guardian last weekend rendered occupied Palestinian and Syrian territories as part of “Israel”.

The map very much appears to be in breach of UK advertising regulations. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in 2009 upheld complaints against an Israeli tourism bilboard because it included a similar map, ruling the ad “must not appear again in its current form”.

The three-page advertising spread from the Israeli tourism ministry in the Guardian Weekend is part of what increasingly looks like a major new advertising campaign in the UK.

On the map, the occupied West Bank is labeled “Judea” and “Samaria” (names from religious texts used by Israeli colonists). The West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights are delineated only by a faint dotted line. Under international law, all three are occupied territories. The West Bank and Gaza are Palestinian, and the Golan is part of Syria. All three were invaded by Israel in 1967.

“Systems breakdown” at the Guardian

On Monday the Guardian issued a correction stating the ad “did not distinguish clearly between Israel” and the occupied Arab territories.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign is encouraging people to complain to the ASA and the Guardian. The Guardian has written to a PSC supporter apologizing, saying they usually “carefully check any potentially controversial adverts prior to publication, however in this instance we had a systems breakdown and did not do so”. The Guardian also said the ASA is currently investigating the ad.

Update, 5 December

Antoine Raffoul, Coordinator of 1948 Lest We Forget informs me that his group was called by Mark Finney, the Guardian’s advertising manager after they complained. Finney says that follow-up adverts from the Israeli tourism ministry have now been refused — seemingly because of the complaints. Here is Antoine’s full update:

We received a call today from Mr Mark Finney in response to our latest email below. He apologised for the insertion of the misleading advert and stated that a ‘correction/clarification’ was published online subsequent to the hundreds of  protests received by the Guardian. He also stated that Israel’s Ministry of  Tourism attempted (through its advertising agency) to insert the same advert (text only) this weekend [3-4 December], and (same map and text) next weekend, but The Guardian refused.

I called Mr Finney at the Guardian earlier today seeking his response to my article, but he did not return the message I left before the end of the day.

Major campaign

Roadside “Think Israel” tourism bilboard in North West London.

Mohammed Yilmaz

The ad is part of what seems to be a major recent campaign in the UK. Large billboards have appeared in public spaces encouraging people to “Think Israel”.

The website to this campaign contains an even more offensive (and racist) map [PDF]. The West Bank appears even more solidly absorbed into “Israel proper” (without even a dotted line), with mysteriously empty pink and yellow blobs appearing where Palestinians live in built-up areas. There is no clue that the Golan is anything more than a part of “northern Israel”.

The website’s home page also offers links to “Christian themes” and “Jewish themes” but no “Muslim themes”, wiping the Islamic heritage of Palestine off the map.

Israeli tourism ministry contempt for ASA

To what extent this is part of the “Brand Israel” strategy is debatable. Whatever the case, the ASA should be asked what action it will take against the Israeli tourist board for continuing to violate its rules.

The campaign has also appeared in brochures distributed on British Airways flights, as discovered by The Electronic Intifada in October.

Last month the ASA also ruled against an ad in the Zionist-slanted Jewish Chronicle that it said was “misleading” and so “must not appear again in its current form”, because it had advertised an illegal West Bank colony as part of “Israel”.

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I am dismayed but not surprised at this blatant attempt by Israeli Zionists to revise history. The UNSCOP, in 1948, decided to divide land that did not belong to them, without even consulting the owners, and give it to who they thought was the Jews to compensate for the Holocaust, but instead, in giving the land to Jews, gave the Zionists a reason to continue the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. And it continues to this day, with evictions, constant harassment, removing cemetery records of Arab burials and turning them into parking lots, in the occupied territories, killings, settlers initiated squabbles, and so much outright oppressions of the Palestinians by a Zionists dominated Israel.
And the point of my post is the world sits back and allows this, just as the history of the ethnic cleansing of 1948 is not in the minds of those throughout the world, as if it did not happen. And the world allows the aggression and military attacks by Israel against its neighbors blaming the victims in the process, it is like the bully with his boot on your neck shouting "stop you're hurting me," or the psychopath after committing murder says "look what YOU made me do." The present apartheid in Israel and its occupied territories is possible only because the world allows it, but specifically, the US's unconditional, unequivocal, with no conditions attached, support of Israel no matter how barbaric the Israelis behavior is against the Palestinians, Bedouins, and other Arabs.
I was awakened to this issue in July 1020 when I saw a letter by King Abdullah written in 1947 in The American Magazine. I saw no Arab hostility towards the Jews as is often depicted by the MSM. I read an appeal for moderation in rising immigrant populations, mostly Jews, he was articulate and reasonable to me. I saw a youtube video by Representative Press of the covering up of the main reason for 9/11, the US support of Israel. I am learning more and more of Israeli crimes.
Thanx EI, for the truth.

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This has not been reported, that I've seen, in any other UK or US or other media.

Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London. He is an associate editor with The Electronic Intifada. He first visited Palestine in 2004.