These billboards had been at the focus of a short but intensive campaign. Gush Shalom (the Israeli Peace Bloc) had been alerted to the placing of the billboards by activists monitoring settlement activity. Thereupon, Gush Shalom sent a letter to the British Airways administration, asking for the billboards removal, and informing its network of international contacts of the addresses where they could add their voice.
Within hours, hundreds of messages reached the BA offices by phone, fax and e-mail, several of them from long-time regular passengers and at least one from a British Airways shareholder, all reiterating the call for removal of the billboards - with such arguments as:
This morning, Gush Shalom Spokesperson Adam Keller got a phone call from David Tamir, director of the Tel Aviv based Tamir-Cohen advertising agency which handles British Airways’ Israeli advertising campaign. Tamir told that his employees had already been dispatched to remove the Ariel billboards.
According to him, there had been no intention to advertise specifically at Ariel, and the billboards there had been part of 1,200 spread throughout the country, and that “the exact placing of billboards had been entrusted to a sub-contractor”. Keller argued that his agency’ advertising campaign had clearly been built on the assumption that Ariel is a normal Israeli town, to be included as a matter of course in any nationwide advertising.
“For us, this is an unacceptable assumption. Ariel is not part of Israel, either by International Law or by Israel’s own law.” Tamir stated that “We would have removed them immediately had you phoned us discreetly, without making such a fuss”, and he promised to check whether any of his billboards had been placed at other settlements, and if so remove them as well.
Gush Shalom had been maintaining an ongoing consumer boycott of products originating at settlements in the Occupied Territories, in which tens of thousands of Israeli families take part. The movement’s aim is to make as clear and unmistakable a distinction as possible between Israel’s internationally-recognized sovereign territory and the territories occupied in 1967 which are not part of Israel, which are subject to a more and more cruel occupation rule that must be terminated.”
Gush Shalom (Israeli Peace Bloc)
Pob 2542, Holon 58125, Israel
Phone & Fax 972-3-5565804