Israel Surrenders to British Censorship of Israeli Tourism Ad

British authority tells Israel to remove a photo of Qumran, claiming - wrongly - it's Palestinian. Israel immediately complies, says it will check.

Hillel Fendel ,

Something about Israel's latest advertising campaign irked the British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), and the latter told Israel to change it.  Without protest or investigation, Israel did so. 

The theme of the Israeli ad campaign - in Britain and elsewhere - is, "It takes six hours to cross Israel. Imagine what you can experience in seven days."  This motto appeared on the backdrop of various photos of Israeli scenes, one of which was the Qumran Caves - where the Dead Sea Scrolls, including chapters from the Book of Isaiah, were found in the 1940's.

Qumran is situated near Kibbutz Kalya, near the northwest corner of the Dead Sea, in a region liberated by Israel in the Six Day War in 1967.  However, it is not controlled by the Palestinian Authority in any way.

Despite this, ASA told Israel's Tourism Ministry to remove the photo, claiming that it misleads readers "into thinking that Qumran Caves are located within the Green Line, while they are actually located in the Palestinian territories."

As stated above, Qumran is not in the Palestinian territories.  Nevertheless, the relevant Israeli Tourism Ministry authorities decided to remove the photo first and carry out an investigation later.  The photo has been replaced by one of Masada, 50 kilometers to the south.

Asked why the photo was removed given the fact that Qumran and environs are under full Israeli control, Tourism Ministry Spokeswoman Shira Kazeh was unable to provide an explanation, saying only, "The decision was made, and hopefully within a few days the investigation will be completed."

The British ASA is an independent organization founded by advertisers "in order to keep advertising truthful." 

Moshe Feiglin, head of the Likud's Jewish Leadership faction, responded with sarcasm to the British stance.  "They’re right," he said. "After all, everyone knows that the famous hidden 'Palestinian' scrolls were found in those caves." 

Feiglin added that "not far away, in Masada, the heroic battle took place between the 'Palestinian' zealots and the Roman Legion.  In addition, the Western Wall is of course nothing more than a remnant of the 'Palestinian' Holy Temple that was destroyed 2,000 years ago."

A senior Israeli tourism official told Ynet on Sunday that ASA continues to demonstrate the anti-Israeli approach displayed in Britain over the past few months. "Representatives of the Palestinian Tourism Ministry feature a map of Palestine which shows all of Israel's regions, including Ben-Gurion Airport, as Palestine's major airport, but the British never complained about that," he said.