The posters are coming down!
IT'S nice to get a result now and then. Yesterday I sent a message to London Underground, complaining about some provocative Israeli tourism posters which bore a map showing the whole of pre-1948 mandatory Palestine plus the Golan Heights as though it were all part of Israel.
I pointed out that, far from assisting tourism to Palestinian areas in a neighbourly manner, the Israeli authorities use roadblocks to make it difficult for even the locals to move around, and regularly interfere with bone fide travellers wishing to visit I was particularly angry having heard from a friend who, travelling with his Palestinian wife to visit her family, had been prevented from going to Ramallah with her, and told he could only remain in the country for two days.
I also pointed out that Israeli journalist Amira Hass had been arrested because she had gone into Gaza, and was charged with visiting "enemy territory", and yet the Gaza Strip was shown on the Israeli tourism map as if it were part of Israel.
I wondered whether the purpose of the map and the posters was tourism at all, or if it was a propaganda exercise, aimed at conditioning the public to think all this area was "Israel". So much for the "two state solution" to which the British government is presumably committed, even if the new Israeli government wants to bury it.
Well, I guess London Underground bosses feel they have enough trouble without being used by the Israeli government this way, because news has reached me via the Palestine Solidarity Campaign(PSC) that the offensive posters, which came from the Israeli Tourism Authority together with an outfit called ThinkIsrael, are being removed.
I'd be tempted to claim credit and say it was me writing such a good strong letter that brought such a quick result, but it looks like the move may have been decided before they even had time to read my epistle. PSC says it began mobilising, together with Jews for Justice for Palestinians, as soon as it heard about the posters last week. People complained to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), Transport for London, and CBS Outdoors,the company which put up the adverts.
Sarah Colborne, PSC Director of Campaigns and Operations, said:
"The Palestine Solidarity Campaign welcomes the removal of these adverts,
which had a map showing Israel as including the West Bank, Gaza Strip and
the Golan Heights which are all illegally occupied by Israel. These
adverts wiped Palestine off the map. It was particularly grotesque to use
this map in an advert for tourism, given that under the Israeli blockade of
Gaza, even humanitarian aid staff are denied entry.
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign had found the posters astonishing, given
that the ASA had already upheld a previous complaint against ThinkIsrael.com
for using a similarly misleading map in an advertisement placed in the Radio
Times in 2007".
On that occasion, the ASA ruled that ThinkIsrael.com had breached the
Œtruthfulness¹ clause, and also the 'non-response¹ clause, when it failed to
reply to ASA¹s correspondence. PSC welcomes the deluge of complaints from members and supporters on this issue".
I hope President Obama, receiving Binyamin Netanyahu, was just as firm in taking no nonsense from the Israeli prime minister. And now the posters are coming down, let us go for that damned wall!