UK bans ad for implying Jerusalem’s Old City part of Israel

Watchdog says brochure showing panorama of holy area with text that Jewish state ‘has it all’ is misleading

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men walk near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City as snow falls on February 19, 2015. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men walk near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City as snow falls on February 19, 2015. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)

LONDON — Britain’s advertising watchdog banned an Israeli government tourism advertisement for suggesting that the Old City of Jerusalem is part of Israel on Wednesday.

The newspaper brochure showed a panorama of the walled Old City with the text “Israel has it all”, and was ruled misleading by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which said it implied the UNESCO World Heritage Site was part of Israel.

Israel, which has controlled all of Jerusalem since 1967, considers the Old City as part of its capital, which the international community mostly rejects.

The dispute is an emotional subject as the area contains places precious to Christians, Jews and Muslims, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Western Wall and al-Asqa Mosque.

Following a complaint, the ASA ruled the title of the brochure “Israel Land of Creation” and references to Old City attractions was misleading and banned the ad from appearing again in its current form.

“We understood that the status of the territories in question was the subject of much international dispute,” the watchdog said.

“We therefore considered the presentation of the ad would mislead consumers into believing that the Old City of Jerusalem was part of Israel and into taking a transactional decision that they would otherwise not have taken.”

The brochure included a photograph showing the golden Old City landmark and Muslim shrine the Dome of the Rock, with the modern buildings of Western Jerusalem in the background.

Text on the image read: “Everyone falls for the Old City, with its narrow (and car-free) alleys, teeming pilgrims and bazaar-like buzz.”

In its defense, the Israeli Government Tourist Office denied the brochure was making a political statement.

“They said the ad did not seek to make a political statement and believed it would be inappropriate for it to do so,” the ASA ruling stated.

“Rather, they believed the leaflet provided practical information that made clear that visitors to the places referred to in the ad, such as the Old City of Jerusalem, could only be visited via traveling to Israel.”

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