Israel won’t appeal UK ad watchdog’s Temple Mt. poster ban
Tourism Ministry preferred to get the issue out of the headlines.
By RON FRIEDMAN, JONNY PAUL
Despite pressure from the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Israeli Tourism Ministry has decided not to file a formal appeal against the British Advertising Standards Association’s (ASA) decision to ban a poster depicting the Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock under an invitation to visit Israel.Instead, the ministry sent a letter of protest to the advertising watchdog this week, expressing regret over the decision.Last month, the ASA banned the publication of the poster, stating that it violated the principle of truthfulness and could mislead people into thinking the two landmarks were part of Israel and not, as the organization said, “in east Jerusalem, a part of the Occupied Territories of the West Bank.”British Jews, represented by the Board of Deputies, met with Tourism Ministry officials in London several times, urging them to file a formal appeal to the decision. “Our own meeting with the ASA was very friendly and constructive, and showed the importance of maintaining a relationship with them so that in future, issues like this can be managed before they become a problem,” said Jon Benjamin, the board’s chief executive.The Tourism Ministry, however, preferred to lower the flames. Ovad Kadmi, legal counsel for the ministry, said that after concluding that an appeal would most likely be denied, the ministry had decided not to file one and instead sent ASA a letter of protest expressing uncompromising support for a united Jerusalem and sorrow that the association could be so easily swayed by the political agendas of an extreme minority.“We thought that a formal appeal would only keep the issue in the headlines, and we wanted to put it behind us. We stand by Israel’s right to depict the Western Wall in advertising posters, but the ASA gave us an opening for future cooperation and from now on, we’ll just have to be smarter about our advertising,” said Kadmi.He added that the issue “puts the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the center and turns off prospective tourist. We prefer to focus on Israel’s advantages and not on the political situation.”In the meantime, the Tourism Ministry has announced the launch of a new NIS 34 million spring-summer marketing campaign promoting Israel as an attractive and varied tourism destination. The campaign will be distributed in those countries which represent the main sources of incoming tourism – the USA, Russia, Germany, France, Italy, the UK, Sweden and Holland.The photo of the Western Wall in the new campaign does not show the east Jerusalem landmarks.
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