Israel-Gibralter stamp nixed over use of J'lem image

Philatelic magazine: British objected to image of David Citadel on joint Israel-Gibraltar stamp, wanted Tel Aviv landmark instead.

February 20, 2012 03:46
2 minute read.
Cancelled Israel-Gibraltar stamp

Israel Gibraltar stamp 390. (photo credit: Shovel)


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An unusual binational stamp issued by Israel and Gibraltar – already printed and due to appear in June of last year – was cancelled at the last minute when the British government balked at the image of the David Citadel in Jerusalem. After British authorities insisted that the illustration be replaced with a Tel Aviv landmark, the Israel Philatelic Service decided to call off the whole project.

Authorities in Gibraltar – a tiny British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean, with a long Jewish history – compensated the Philatelic Service for its printing costs.

The unpleasant diplomatic incident was just uncovered in the January issue of Shovel, the Hebrew-language philatelic magazine.

Titled “The Stamp That Wasn’t,” the article stated that it is unusual for Israel to issue a stamp jointly with another country, but such an event is important for the Philatelic Service and the state. Although stamp issues do not capture headlines in Israel, senior government officials from both countries take part in the ceremony, the article said, and the event enjoys much media coverage abroad.

Such an event is relatively rare because of political hostility to Israel in recent years. Despite this, “Israel has succeeded in holding joint stamp issues with the UN, France and the Vatican, some of which are not known for their enthusiasm for the Jewish state,” Shovel wrote. Indeed, the service is due to issue stamps jointly this year with China, India and Nepal.

While the initiative sometimes stems from diplomatic sources, others are suggested by philatelic organizations. In the latter case, the foreign stamp enthusiasts commit themselves to getting the necessary government approvals.

In the case of Gibraltar, authorities in the minuscule island approved the design, which was to show the David Citadel and Rock of Gibraltar on the NIS 4.90 stamp.

“Our friendship unites the west with the east of the Mediterranean,” the would-be stamp issue said on its face, with the Israeli and Gibraltarian flags waving above.

“Everything was ready, and its was already printed,” the article said, but at the last minute, it was realized that the British Foreign Office must first approve the joint issue.

Because Jerusalem is “politically controversial,” the British requested that a Tel Aviv landmark be used in place of the Jerusalem Citadel on the stamps issued by Gibraltar.

At first, Israel was “willing to swallow its pride,” the article said, but the first request was quickly followed by another one – that the stamps issued by Israel also include the Tel Aviv landmark. The Philatelic Service told its counterpart in Gibraltar that this was too much and called off the project.

Gibraltarian authorities admitted they were at fault for not getting British approval first.

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