UK’s Zionist Federation urges review of banned Kotel ad

Jewish community organization says there isn't “the slightest risk” people would be misled by tourism campaign photos.

April 19, 2010 03:57
3 minute read.
The Western Wall plaza was almost empty yesterday,

kotel plaza 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)


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LONDON – A Jewish community organization is campaigning to overturn the decision by Britain’s advertising watchdog to invalidate the use of a picture of the Kotel, with the Dome of the Rock in the background, for an Israeli tourism advertisement.

The UK’s Zionist Federation (ZF) is calling for a review of last week’s decision by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) saying that there is not “the slightest risk” that the people would be misled by the inclusion of photos.

In its ruling, the ASA said last week: “We understood, however, that the status of the occupied territory of the West Bank was the subject of much international dispute, and because we considered that the ad implied that the part of east Jerusalem featured in the image was part of the State of Israel, we concluded that the ad was likely to mislead.”

“This adjudication is grossly disproportionate since there is not the slightest risk that the British public would be misled by the inclusion of photos of the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock into thinking that East Jerusalem was not disputed territory,” the ZF said, in a mailing that called on people to back the campaign.

“There is no other way for tourists to see these sights other than through Israel. Indeed Israel took responsibility to support the religious sites of all denominations, a commitment which formed part of the obligations of an agreement with the Palestinian Authority signed in 1995. East Jerusalem was annexed by Israel over 40 years ago. Legally, from Israel’s point of view, it is one city with no difference between East and West,” said the ZF.

The ZF said that according to ASA rules, the decision can be reviewed if requested by the advertiser – which in this case is the Israeli Government Tourist Office.

“We note that this ASA adjudication can be reviewed by the independent reviewer, Sir Hayden Phillips, at the request of the advertiser and that he can call for a review if there is “a substantial flaw of process or adjudication...or where additional relevant evidence becomes available. We hope that there is such a review and that this results in the ASA Council changing its ruling,” the ZF said.

Appealing to people to write to the ASA, the ZF said: “We encourage you to write to the ASA as we have done asking them to ensure a review is carried out regarding their ruling about an advert for tourism in Israel.”

A Facebook campaign page, calling to “Stop the UK Advertising Standards Authority creating an Israel Boycott,” has been set up and has attracted nearly 4,000 members.

The ASA said it has received many complaints regarding the decision and has released a further statement on its Web site.

“We do appreciate that some people strongly disagree with our decision,” the advertising regulator said. “Our ruling does not prevent the Israeli Government Tourist Office from depicting the Western Wall or other parts of Jerusalem in future advertisements. The ruling solely seeks to ensure that future ads do not imply that places in the occupied territories are part of the State of Israel.”

The ASA said it is “duty bound” to respond to concerns raised about advertisements that appear in the UK.

“Often we have to make decisions about subject matters in advertisements that polarize opinion and where strength of feeling and views are particularly pronounced. We realize our decision will disappoint some people,” the statement said.

While it confirmed that advertiser has the ability to seek a review, it said that the ASA will not reconsider its ruling in this case.

“If the advertiser disagrees with our ruling then they can seek an independent review. Although it will disappoint you I am afraid we will not, however, be reconsidering our ruling.

“Finally we are unable to enter into discussions about hypothetical advertisements for other tourist destinations, i.e. the UK,” the ASA said.

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