ASA Adjudication on Travel Palestine
PO Box 534
16 March 2011
Holidays and travel
Number of complaints:
A magazine ad for Travel Palestine stated "Palestine is a land rich in history with a tradition of hospitality. From the famous cities of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jericho, Nablus, and Gaza, the Palestinian people welcome you to this Holy Land ... Starting from the earliest religious pilgrims, the country has seen famous visitors come and go. Palestine lies between the Mediterranean Coast and the Jordan River ... It takes a visit to this wonderful country to appreciate the most palpable facet of its culture: the warmth and humor [sic] of the Palestinian people. Join a long list of visitors over the centuries who have seen the beauty of this land"
The Board of Deputies of British Jews, The Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester and Region, Counterpoint and 146 members of the public challenged whether the ad was misleading because they believed:
1. Palestine was not currently a recognised country;
2. the ad suggested the whole of the area described as situated "between the Mediterranean Coast and the Jordan River" was Palestinian-administered territory;
3. it suggested Jerusalem was part of Palestinian-administered territory when it was part of Israel.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
1. Travel Palestine said nothing in the text of the ad asserted that Palestine was "a recognised country". They said that, nevertheless, 110 countries recognised the State of Palestine (and they supplied a list of those countries). Travel Palestine said it had not been their intention to raise a foreign policy debate.
2. Travel Palestine said the internationally recognised land of Palestine today comprised the Mediterranean coastal Gaza Strip and the West Bank, which extended westward from the middle of the Jordan River and included East Jerusalem. They said the fact that the State of Israel was also situated between the Mediterranean coast and the Jordan River did not alter the fact that Palestine was situated there. They did not believe anything in the text of the ad implied that Palestine was the only territory that was situated between the Mediterranean coast and the Jordan River.
3. Travel Palestine said the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office did not recognise any part of Jerusalem as part of Israel and that United Nations (UN) General Assembly Resolution 181, in November 1947, characterised Jerusalem as a "corpus separatum" to be governed by an international administration. Travel Palestine also supplied extracts from United Nations Security Council Resolutions which spoke against Israel's attempt to change the status of Jerusalem through acquisition of the territory by force. In that context, Travel Palestine did not believe the references the ad made to the land of Palestine and Jerusalem were misleading.
1. Not upheld
The ASA noted that the references to "country" did not explicitly claim that Palestine was a recognised country and that all the references to the area were made in the context of Palestinian culture ("... a land rich in history with a tradition of hospitality", "... the Palestinian people welcome you to visit this Holy Land" and "It takes a visit to this wonderful country to appreciate the most palpable facet of its culture: the warmth and humor [sic] of the Palestinian people"). In an ad that promoted tourism to Palestine in the context of Palestinian culture, we concluded that the ad did not claim that Palestine was a recognised country and was not misleading.
On point 1. we investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation) but did not find it in breach.
2. Not upheld
We considered that the description of Palestine as being situated "between the Mediterranean Coast and the Jordan River" did not suggest that the whole of the area between those two points was Palestinian-administered territory but that it was located in that area. Because of that, we concluded that the ad was not misleading.
On point 2. we investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising) but did not find it in breach.
We noted that the status of Jerusalem was in dispute but that both the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the UN did not recognise it as part of Israel and that the UN characterised it as a "corpus separatum," to be governed by an international administration. We considered, however, that the line "From the famous cities of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jericho, Nablus, and Gaza ... Palestine lies between ..." suggested that the situation and recognition of those cities as being part of Palestine was universally accepted. Because that was not the case, we concluded that the ad was misleading.
On point 3. the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Travel Palestine to ensure their ads did not suggest that it was universally accepted that locations were part of Palestine when that was not the case.
Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)