A few weeks ago the Guardian’s G2 supplement ran a series of adverts for tourism in Israel. One of them, shown above, describes a holiday in Israel as a ‘unique experience’. Damn right its a unique experience; interrogation by surly airport security, sharing buses with hordes of armed to the teeth Israeli adolescents and the chance to see the old city of Jerusalem policed by racist goons with a quota of Palestinian residents to harass. For the more adventurous tourist there’s the deserted and terrorised streets of the old city of Hebron, daubed with xenophobic graffiti, the apartheid wall, collective puishmment, targeted assassinations, house demolitions, torture and repression – the possibilities are endless.
None of that was mentioned in the G2 adverts. Readers are presented with a picture of a couple enjoying the Dead Sea Coast – much of which is in illegally occupied territory (see http://corporateoccupation.wordpress.com/2010/05/06/kibbutz-kalia-part-1-a-holiday-in-israeli-apartheid/).
But its when you follow the links to the featured companies that things get really dicey. Longwood Holidays (www.longwoodholidays.co.uk) show a map of Israel which shows the yet unobtained zionist dream, the annexation of the occupied West Bank and Syrian Golan.
In April 2010 the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld a complaint about Israeli Ministry of Tourism posters implying that East Jerusalem was part of Israel (ironically this was picked up by the Guardian). The posters were banned.
Longwood Holidays advertise a trip taking in the occupied Syrian Golan and the West Bank settlements without once implying that the destinations are not in Israel. The company advertises ‘economy’ accomodation in the settlements of Kalia and Almog, helping to prop up the settlement economy.
Longwood Holidays can be found at:
3 Bourne Court Southend Road Woodford Green IG8 8HD
Explore (http://www.explore.co.uk/about-explore/), a travel company based in Farnborough, advertise a tour travelling through the occupied Jordan Valley to Qumran, a tourist site owned by the illegal settlement of Kalia and on to occupied Jerusalem. The image on the ‘Israel’ page includes the dome of the rock. Nowhere on the site is it explained that all of these places are in occupied Palestine.
Explore Worldwide Ltd Nelson House 55 Victoria Road Farnborough Hampshire GU14 7PA UK
Tourism and travel in Israel, unless with the aim of challenging Israeli apartheid, militarism and occupation, props up the colonial state and strengthens Israeli apartheid. The Guardian, one would hope, are all too aware of the true situation in Israel – however, G2’s advertising manager Mark Finney summed up their stance to one concerned reader: ‘we’ve received a number of complaints’ but the Guardian ‘needs the advertising revenue’.