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The Schmooze

The Western Wall’s Advertising Woes

Ever since 1967, Israel has grappled with the problem that its de-facto borders are out of sync with most of the international community’s view of where its territory starts and finishes. Normally, the ramifications are political. But now, it appears that they are also impairing the country’s tourism efforts.

The Israeli Government Tourist Office just launched a newspaper advertising campaign in Britain, selling the country on its compactness. You can travel its entire length “in six hours,” it boasted, showing some of the places you can expect to see – including the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock, which Israel captured in 1967.

The Advertising Standards Authority, Britain’s advertising watchdog, has banned the advertisement and released a statement saying that it “considered that readers were likely to understand that the places featured in the itinerary were all within the State of Israel,” and as such it was “likely to mislead.” This is because “the status of the occupied territory of the West Bank was the subject of much international dispute,” they said.

Israel’s Tourism Ministry has responded, saying that the advertisement is telling people where they may visit after they land in Israel. The legal status of Jerusalem “is only of relevance if there was an attempt to interpret the straightforward message of the ad in a manner that went beyond what consumers were likely to understand from the ad,” it claimed in a statement.

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