ASA Adjudication on Israeli Government Tourist Office
Israeli Government Tourist Office
180 Oxford Street
15 July 2009
Holidays and travel
Number of complaints:
A poster for the Israeli Government Tourist Office had the headline "EXPERIENCE ISRAEL" and a picture of a boy snorkelling with dolphins. Text underneath stated "Few countries pack so much variety into such a small space as Israel. The energy and excitement of Tel Aviv and the rich cultural experiences of the Dead Sea and Jerusalem with the sun and relaxation of Eilat make Israel the ideal multi-centre break". The ad featured a map of Israel that included the West Bank, the Gaza strip and the Golan Heights.
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Jews for Justice for Palestine and 442 members of the public challenged whether the poster misleadingly implied that the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights were internationally recognised as part of Israel.
CAP Code (Edition 11)
The State of Israel Ministry of Tourism (SIMT), replying on behalf of the Israel Government Tourist Office (IGTO), said the map featured on the poster was a general, schematic tourism and travel information map, rather than a political map. They explained that it gave potential visitors an idea of the location of the areas in and around Israel. SIMT argued that the complaints about whether some areas on the map were internationally recognised as part of Israel were political in nature and not relevant to a tourist ad. They argued that the only impression a reasonable customer would get from the map was that it depicted the areas that could be practically reached and visited when travelling there, and that it was not meant to carry any political messages.
The ASA noted that the aim of the ad was to promote tourism to Israel. We also noted that the map featured in the ad was labelled "Israel" and we considered that, along with the claim "Few countries pack so much variety into such a small space as Israel", the ad implied that all of the areas featured on the map were part of the state of Israel. We noted that the map showed border lines for the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, but we also noted that those border lines were faintly produced and difficult to distinguish on the map itself. 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, 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 breached CAP Code clause 7.1 (Truthfulness).
The ad must not appear again in its current form.
Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)