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Regulator will not investigate local newspaper ad accusing Israel of ‘genocide’

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Published Time: 11.05.2024 - 20:40:30 Modified Time: 11.05.2024 - 20:40:30

The Advertising Standards Authority was asked to look at an advert placed by a pro-Palestine group in the Camden New Journal The advertising regulator has declined to investigate a pro-Palestinian charity that published a local newspaper advertisement accusing Israel of “genocide” and “apartheid”

The Advertising Standards Authority was asked to look at an advert placed by a pro-Palestine group in the Camden New Journal


The advertising regulator has declined to investigate a pro-Palestinian charity that published a local newspaper advertisement accusing Israel of “genocide” and “apartheid”.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the Camden Abu Dis Friendship Association (CADFA) was entitled to “freedom of expression under the law”.

The charity placed the quarter-page advert – which declared “Ceasefire now! End the genocide!” – in the Camden New Journal two weeks ago, despite the north London borough having the third-highest Jewish population in the capital.

Advertising the charity’s Palestinian-themed cafe, it added: “Come and hear Palestinian speakers, learn more about Palestine, discuss local work for human rights and an end to apartheid in Israel/Palestine.”

The regulator’s decision not to take action sparked anger among MPs and campaigners, who accused it of ignoring “blood libel” and putting “Jews at even more risk” of hate crime.

‘One of the oldest anti-Semitic tropes’

Andrew Percy MP, the vice-chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on anti-Semitism, said: “The promotion of the smear of ‘genocide’ against Israel plays into one of the oldest anti-Semitic tropes.

“It is a blood libel and these have been used for centuries to justify attacks on Jews. It is especially offensive to promote this libel, this smear, in an area with a high Jewish population.

“I am frankly staggered that the regulator has chosen to ignore these concerns and has instead decided to ignore something that could inflame tensions and put Jews at even more risk.”

Jonathan Turner, chief executive of UK Lawyers for Israel, said the advert was “misleading as well as offensive” and therefore breached chapters three and four of the ASA’s non-broadcast advertising code.

“The complainant should request a review by the Independent Reviewer of ASA Rulings on the ground that the ASA has not considered the misleading character of this advertisement,” he said.

Complaint dismissed by editor

When a reader made a complaint about the advert’s “spurious claims of ‘genocide’ and ‘apartheid’”, the newspaper’s editor, Richard Osley, dismissed it.

“We do not think this advert on p12 of the CNJ has led to an increased community tensions in Camden, but we will monitor any wider effect that this booking has caused,” he wrote in an seen by The Telegraph.

He added: “In our editorial decisions, we believe we have stepped sensitively through this issue, which clearly invokes very contrasting opinions, and our hope is for local community cohesion.”

Camden has the third-highest Jewish population of any London borough, according to the 2021 census. The 10,079 Jews who live there mean it is third only to Hackney (17,426) and Barnet (56,616).

The east and south of the borough is in the Holborn and St Pancras constituency of Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader.

The reader then escalated their complaint to the ASA, which in November 2022 banned a Ministry of Justice advert that showed a real black prisoner and a white guard for “perpetuating a negative racial stereotype”.

ASA declines to investigate

But the regulator has chosen not to investigate the complaint.

“We received a complaint about an ad in a local newspaper, for meetings hosted by Palestinian speakers,” a spokesman said. “The complainant argued that the words the ad used describing the current situation in the region were offensive.

“We recognise that, while there are many opinions about this issue, advertisers have rights of freedom of expression under the law.

‘A double standard’

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