British Watchdog Bans Israel Tourism Ad Over Inclusion of Old City

Brochure implied Jerusalem's Old City is part of Israel, which is misleading, according to U.K. authority. Israel denied implication.

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The Israeli flag flying near the Western Wall in front of the golden roof of the Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem's Old City.Credit: Reuters

The British Advertising Standards Authority has banned further publication of an Israeli tourist brochure because it portrays the Old City of Jerusalem as part of Israel.

The authority rejected the stance of the Israeli Government Tourist Office, which asserted that "the accompanying text did not imply that East Jerusalem and the Old City of Jerusalem formed part of the State of Israel," according to the report on its website.

The authority noted that text on page four of the brochure, which appeared in a national newspaper, stated, "TOP 20 enjoy THE RIDE Full of flavour, colour, history and a whole lot of fun, Israel has it all ...." It then went on to read, "OLD CITY, JERUSALEM BY DAY Everyone falls for the Old City, with its narrow (and car-free) alleys, teeming pilgrims and bazaar-like buzz."

A reader filed a complaint, asserting the "ad misleadingly implied the Old City of Jerusalem was internationally recognised as part of Israel."

The Israeli Government Tourist Office argued, according to the standards authority, that "the brochure made clear a distinction between Israel and the Occupied Territories and believed the ad needed to be considered in that context," denying any implication that East Jerusalem and the Old City of Jerusalem were part of Israel.

"IGTO said the issue surrounding sovereignty over Jerusalem was widely known to the British public," the authority reported, adding the Israeli office stated that the leaflet provided practical information and did not make a political statement.

The authority said it upheld the complaint because the brochure was titled "Israel Land of Creation" and asserted that "Israel has it all," which would cause readers to "regard the ad as presenting the Old City of Jerusalem as being part of Israel." In contrast, the authority noted it "understood that the status of the territories in question was the subject of much international dispute."

Because the authority is "required to consider whether they are likely to cause consumers to take a transactional decision that they would not otherwise have taken," and deems that the average consumer reading the ad "would not necessarily be aware of the status of the territory in question," it concluded that the ad breached the code regarding misleading advertising.

The authority consequently banned the ad from further publication in its present form.