Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Hypocrisy of Britain's Israel lobby:
Israel Begrudges Palestine its Fragile Tourism
By Stuart Littlewood
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, January 16, 2011
Stuart Littlewood exposes the hypocrisy of Britain’s Israel lobby,
which has been mounting a campaign to get the UK's advertising watchdog to
force the removal of an advertisement for tourism in Palestine while
endorsing Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories and
annexation of Arab East Jerusalem.
The Israel lobby here in the UK is
creating a storm in an advertising teacup in a bid to throw a spanner in the
works of Palestinian tourism
The Jerusalem Post reports that
Britain's advertising watchdog has launched an investigation into "a barrage
of complaints" over a ‘Travel Palestine’ advert in the National Geographic
magazine because it "appears
to blot out the existence of the State of Israel"
“The Palestinians’ modest attempt to attract tourists to their country
was promptly met by the Israel lobby’s ‘usual suspects’ squealing their
indignation and making fatuous territorial claims.”
The Palestinians’ modest attempt to attract tourists to their country was
promptly met by the Israel lobby’s “usual suspects” squealing their
indignation and making fatuous territorial claims.
The advert was
published by the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. According
to the Jerusalem Post, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it had
received 60 complaints. The Zionist Federation of the UK, for example,
grumbled that the advert was misleading as it gave the “false impression”
that Palestine is a country; that Jerusalem is part of Palestine; and that
Palestine extends from the Mediterranean to the River Jordan.
would mislead tourists, since on travelling to territory controlled by the
Palestinian Authority, they would not find the sites and facilities which
the advertisement promotes,” said the Zionist Federation.
lawyer wrote to the ASA that the claim that Palestine lay between the
Mediterranean the Jordan “implies that ‘Palestine’ has a Mediterranean
coastline; but while this is true as regards to Gaza, that territory is not
within the de facto jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority. More
seriously, it implies that Palestine occupies the whole or the bulk of the
territory between the Mediterranean and the Jordan, ignoring the existence
Another complainant said the notion that Palestine lies
between the Mediterranean and the Jordan was racist. “This echoes the racist
chant of ‘From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free’ sung by
anti-Israel activists. It is a racist statement.”
Yet another lawyer
said the ad refers to Jerusalem in the same context as other cities in the
West Bank. “It implies that Jerusalem is in Palestine. In fact, Jerusalem is
the capital of the State of Israel. East Jerusalem is also under Israeli
governance; while East Jerusalem may presently be disputed territory, it
cannot be said to be part of ‘Palestine’.”
And still another insisted
that "the ad promotes the city of Gaza, but fails to mention that the
Palestinian territories comprise two non-contiguous areas, one the West Bank
and the other Gaza, and that it would be very difficult if not impossible
for a tourist to travel between the two areas, or to get into Gaza either
via Israel or Egypt”.
Today the Guardian also ran the story,
reporting that the Board of Deputies of British Jews had welcomed the
launch of an official investigation, calling the advert "deeply disturbing"
and "an affront to international law".
Here’s what he advertisement actually said:
Palestine is a land rich in history with a tradition of hospitality. From
the famous cities of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jericho, Nablus and Gaza,
the Palestinian people welcome you to visit this Holy Land. Important to the
three major religions around the world, Palestine has been a meeting point
for diverse cultures since prehistoric times. Starting from the earliest
religious pilgrims, the country has seen famous visitors come and go.
Palestine lies between the Mediterranean coast and Jordan River, at the
crossroads between Africa and Middle East. The individual faces in any
Palestinian town remind you of this rich history of cross-cultural
Today Palestine is proud to offer comfortable, stylish
accommodation, fabulous restaurants, refined artists and galleries,
exquisite handicrafts, innumerable archaeological and religious sites, and
antiquities from all ages.
It takes a visit to this wonderful country
to appreciate the most palpable facet of its culture: the warmth and humour
of the Palestinian people. Join a long list of visitors over the centuries
who have seen the beauty of the land.
What is wrong with that? It could
have said a great deal that was detrimental to Israel, without breaching the
guidelines, but it didn’t. It is substantially honest and truthful, and
The complaints, such as the accusation that the
Palestinian tourism advert is "an affront to international law”, are
laughable. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip are internationally
recognized as one integral territory. Under the Oslo Agreements Israel is
responsible for “respect[ing] and preserv[ing] without obstacles, normal and
smooth movement of people, vehicles and goods within the West Bank, and
between the West Bank and Gaza Strip”.
In 1999 Israel and the
Palestinian Authority signed an agreement establishing a 28 mile road
corridor giving Palestinians safe passage between the two parts of
Palestine. Israel reneged on it.
“The problem, as always, is that Israel’s administrative ‘laws’ are
framed to ride rough-shod over citizens’ rights enshrined in international
law and to entirely disregard its own obligations.”
The problem, as always, is that Israel’s administrative “laws” are framed
to ride rough-shod over citizens’ rights enshrined in international law and
to entirely disregard its own obligations.
Furthermore East Jerusalem, which includes the Old City, is Palestinian
territory. Israel's capital is Tel Aviv and the international community does
not recognize Israel’s claim to an undivided Jerusalem. The capital of a
future Palestinian state to expected to be in East Jerusalem, which is not
"disputed territory", however much Israel would like to make it so by
continuing to steal and ethnically cleanse it.
As for Gaza, it comes
under the legitimate and democratic authority of a Hamas government, which
would have played a leading role in an inclusive Palestinian Authority had
it not been for US/British/EU meddling. In any event, tourists should be
free to access the Gaza Strip by sea or air or through the land crossings
with Egypt and Israel, but their rights are still denied by the cowardly
Western powers in cahoots with their lawless “ally” in Tel Aviv.
Palestine wiped off the map
Besides getting its facts straight in future, Israel ought to put its own
house in order and pay attention to previous ASA rulings. Last year, as the
Guardian reminds us, two Israeli government tourist ad campaigns fell foul
of the watchdog. "One included images of the Palestinian-run West Bank in a
holiday advert. The ASA said it featured various landmarks that were in East
Jerusalem, which were part of the occupied territories, and ordered that it
not be used again. The other depicted the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan
Heights – also part of the occupied territories – as part of Israel.”
But Israel takes no notice. Check the
Israeli travel section within the
current National Geographic and you’ll see that the main picture
features the Dome of the Rock in the Old City of Jerusalem, which of course
is not in Israel but is part of the occupied Palestinian territory of East
The accompanying “Israel Map” doesn't mention Palestine
and depicts the whole of the West Bank, including Gaza, as belonging to
Israel, literally wiping Palestine off the map..
The section even
includes an article, “Nablus: Tourists Welcome”, implying that this
Palestinian town is in Israel.
I spoke to Matt Wilson in the ASA’s
press office and asked if, for the sake of balance, informed comment from
the Palestinian side would be considered in the investigation process. He
suggested that information, provided it’s strictly relevant to the scope and
context of the complaint, be submitted through the following email address: