A brochure insert in national press for Marian Pilgrimages referred to the following:
“Holy Land following in the footsteps of Jesus
Sample nine day itinerary:
Mount of Beatitudes, Sea of Galilee, Nazareth, Mount Tabor, Cana, Qumran, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Mount Zion, and Tomb of David.
8 Nights from €1295 pps.”
The brochure also featured a map of ‘Israel’.
The complainant said that she considered the advertising to be misleading. She said the map of Israel had excluded borders which should have been in place to indicate the State of Palestine. 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.
The advertisers said that on receiving the complaint they had reviewed their advertising. They said that the Map in question was printed as a visual aid to accompany their detailed day by day sample itinerary and to show consumers the extent of travel involved in their Holy Land Pilgrimage and to highlight the main towns and cities on the itinerary.
The advertisers said that the exclusion of borders had been in the interest of design and clarity, as the visual aid had only been 66mm X 100mm. 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 advertisers said that their ground handler a Palestinian, said that 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 same person also said that the inclusion of the Palestinian territories could cause as much offence to Israelis and some of the Palestinian People as they continued to dispute the current borders.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee noted the advertisers’ comments in relation to the size of the map and on the question of the visas. However, they considered that by only including a reference to Israel on the map, the advertising could cause offence and upheld the complaint under Section 2.16 of the Code.
Action Required: The advertising should not reappear in its current format.