A TOUR COMPANY’S brochure offering tours of the ‘Holy Land’ should not be published again – because a map contained in it didn’t include the current borders of the Palestinian territories.
The self-regulatory body that governs advertising in Ireland – the ASAI – has ruled that it shouldn’t run again in its current form.
A brochure insert for Marian Pilgrimages, which ran in the national press, offered a nine-day tour of sights like Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Mount Zion, and the Tomb of David for €1,295 per person sharing.
It also featured a map of Israel.
A complainant took issue with the map as misleading, however – noting that it had excluded borders which should have been in place to indicate Palestine.
As a general geographic and historical term, the Holy Land is generally taken to include modern-day Israel, the Palestinian territories, as well as surrounding areas like western Jordan and parts of Syria.
“She considered that as part of the Pilgrimage was based in the State of Palestine/West Bank, it was important that such borders were featured.
She said it was incorrect to indicate that a four night stopover in Bethlehem was located in Israel, when in fact it was part of Palestine. In conclusion she said the absence of the Palestinian borders from the map was offensive to Palestinians.
Providing a lengthy response, the tour company said the map in question had been printed as a visual aid to illustrate the itinerary and highlight the main towns and cities.
The exclusion of borders had been in the interest of design and clarity, they insisted.
From the ASAI summary, again:
“They said that had they included the borders of the Palestinian Territories, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the disputed Golan Heights the map would have been illegible.
“They said Israel had been included as it was the port of arrival and departure as well as the main administrative power throughout the pilgrimage.
“This could also have implications they said for those taking part in the pilgrimage with regard to visas, travel insurance policies and even difficulties entering the country due to past visa stamps of certain countries on their passports.
Finally the advertisers said they considered that most people would be aware of the controversy surrounding the region in question and that any pilgrimage to the Holy Land would enter Palestinian territory as one of the most important places of worship, the Old City of Jerusalem, was located there.
In relation to causing offence, the company pointed out that their ground handler was a Palestinian.
Any offence caused by their advertising “would be overshadowed by the fact that they were using hotels in Bethlehem and thus contributing to the economy of the Palestinian people,” the company insisted.
The ASAI’s complaints committee said it “noted the advertisers’ comments in relation to the size of the map and on the question of the visas”.
However, they said that by only including a reference to Israel on the map, the advertisement could cause offence, and upheld the complaint.
It shouldn’t run again in its current form, the body said.