Advertising Standards Authority bans Wailing Wall from Israel advertisements
It is the holiest site in Judaism; the most familiar view of Jerusalem. It is how every tourist imagines the Western Wall (the ‘Kotel’ or ‘Wailing Wall’), with the gleaming gold of the Dome of the Rock perched above it. It lures them to pilgrimage to ‘The Holy Land’, to the centre of the three great Abrahamic faiths.
But this image of Jerusalem is now banned in the UK. Never again can it be used to promote a holiday to Israel.
Yes, the ASA have instructed the Israeli Government Tourist Office that they may no longer use the image in their promotional literature.
There were no scantily-clad children inadvertently featured; no topless women; no racially-offensive language; no incitement to ‘religious hatred’; no plumes of smoke from cancer-inducing cigarettes; no glorification of mephedrone or other illicit activity.
There was simply the Wall, the Dome of the Rock and the blue sky.
But the picture was accompanied by the words: ‘You can travel the entire length of Israel in six hours… Imagine what can experience in four days’.
The ASA have judged this to be ‘misleading’ and a breach of their ‘truthfulness guidelines’: Temple Mount is not in Israel, you see: it is in East Jerusalem, which constitutes part of the Palestinian-run West Bank and therefore part of the ‘Occupied Territories’.
And how many complaints did the ASA receive about this ‘misleading’ advertisement?
Yes, that’s right. They receive one solitary complaint, and acted ferociously to ensure that it can never ‘mislead’ the unsuspecting British public again.
And so the delegitimisation of the State of Israel continues apace.
Cranmer is pleased to publish this letter from the director of the Christian Friends of Israel to the Advertising Standards Authority:
I write on behalf of the Trustees and 10,000 members of this registered charity to protest in the strongest terms against your ruling that the Western Wall cannot be shown in Israel tourist advertisements. There are few places on earth where the purchase of real estate is recorded for thousands of years. Of these few, the single most significant and iconic is undoubtedly the Temple in Jerusalem. In the Bible - the sacred text of two world religions - 2 Samuel 24 records the purchase of the site - the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite - for fifty shekels of silver. 2 Chronicles 3 verse 1 links this site with the construction of Solomon's Temple. This is the geographical focus of the family of Israel throughout the world, the resting place of the God of Israel celebrated in Psalm 132, and the place to which the prophets of Israel looked in the messianic age to come (Isaiah 62).
Tourists to Israel whether Christian, Jewish or Muslim are drawn to this iconic site which is celebrated hundreds of times in the biblical texts of Israel. In book publishing, the Western Wall is the picture most associated with Israel and is indeed on the cover of two of our own publications. While part of Jerusalem was for a short time under Jordanian control from 1948-1967 it was closed to Jewish worshippers but subsequently under Israeli control access to the holy sites is open to all faith communities. As a students of Hebrew in Jerusalem twenty years ago, (and employers of Christian Jewish and Muslim staff), my wife and I counted it as the highest of privileges to accompany international visitors and Jews returning to Israel to the Western Wall. Whatever form of administration is negotiated in the future there is no question of Israel relinquishing its historic heritage in the holy basin.
The Board of Trustees of this international organisation will await your response at our next Board meeting on Monday 19th April.
Christian Friends of Israel
It may be observed that it is the judgement of the ASA which is far more ‘misleading’:
While the Western Wall is officially over the “Green Line” established in the Old City of Jerusalem after the 1967 War, it is at the outer perimeter of the old Jewish Quarter of the City — a quarter that the Jordanian army took over in the 1948 War of Independence and razed to the ground. In other words, there is not a single building in the old Jewish Quarter which has not been rebuilt in the last 50 years, since Israel regained the City.
While the Dome of the Rock (or the Al Aqsa Mosque) may be the oldest Islamic structure in the world, and was indeed built in the seventh century, it was built intentionally on the remains of the Jewish Temple the Romans had destroyed in the 1st century. The Western Wall is the last remnant of that Temple, and is at least 1,000 years older than Al Aqsa. It is, without question, the holiest of holy places to the Jews, while the Dome of the Rock is only the third holiest site to Muslims.
As part of several written agreements — the last being in 1995 and also signed by the Palestinians — Israel has official (and legal) charge of all the holy sites in ‘The Holy Land’.
There is a Facebook page of protest. And a reply has already been forthcoming from the ASA. They say:
I would like to reassure you that the ASA ruling does not prevent the Israeli Government Tourist Office from depicting the Western Wall or other parts of Jerusalem in future advertisements. The ruling seeks to ensure that future ads do not imply that places in the Occupied Territories are part of the State of Israel.
So there you have it: a quango has decreed the borders of Israel and the status of her indivisible capital city. East Jerusalem is not part of the State of Israel; it is ‘Occupied Territory’.
And all because of one complaint.
Who was it from?