The Jewish Agency for Israel, Aliyah and the JC: legal, decent, honest and truthful?

February 28, 2010

you tubeThe Advertising Standards Authority motto is “legal, decent, honest & truthful.” It’s an unusual self-regulatory body because, unlike the Press Complaints Commission, it is generally respected and effective. Returning visitors here may recall a recent encounter with the ASA when JfJfP and many others complained about this “Experience Israel” ad – with complete success and wide media attention around the world.

Aliyah (going up) or immigration to Israel is clearly more than tourism and the latest edition of the Jewish Chronicle contained a glossy pamphlet from the Jewish Agency for Israel, encouraging UK Jews to emigrate there. It included a section where eight cities offered welcome messages to new residents from their mayors. Slight problem: Only three of these cities are actually within Israel. The five others being illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territory (East Jerusalem, Maale Adumim, Ariel, Efrat, the entire Etzion Bloc. JfJfP has complained to the ASA and we await their adjudication. We did seek clarification from Stephen Pollard, the editor of the JC first. He was… unhelpful, writing that he was “proud” that the Jewish Agency used the JC to distribute their material. Think that one might come back and bite him on the bum, folks?

Meanwhile… the Jewish Agency for Israel has been pushing its message across a variety of media, including this offering posted on You Tube:

You Tube videos are not covered by the ASA and the JfJfP signatory trying to find out how to object to what you have just watched found himself going round in circles navigating the eye-poppingly complex complaints procedure. So in the end he gave up and simply posted a comment on the You Tube page. It contrasted the welcome show to new Jewish immigrants with the expulsion of Filipino workers from Israel – because, in the charming words of Shas’ Eli Yishai – Deputy Prime Minister –  they might “damage [Israel’s] Jewish identity” and “constitute a demographic threat” (sound familiar?) and “increase the danger of assimilation”.

Somehow, this – fair comment, surely? – was quickly deleted. (You Tube allows those who post videos to choose which comments appear.) It’s their You Tube page, they can do what they like. But here at JfJfP we think people should be allowed – as long as it is legal, decent, honest and truthful, to borrow a phrase – to offer their opinions on publicly available material. So we posted it. And for this post, we turned on the comments facility. The deleted comments – and it is not just a glitch, the comments have been made and deleted more than once now – are the first in the list, just to start you all off.

Moderation is off for the moment, but anything gratuitously offensive (racist, sexist, homophobic, incitement to hatred, blatantly untrue) will be deleted. Fair comment stays, whatever end of the political spectrum from which it emanates.

Update: 0830 3March2010: It may be too early to tell, but a certain degree of victory relating to free speech seems to have been won. Several comments on the You Tube site have remained in place for up to 48 hours. Weirdly, some others have been removed, though there was no difference in tone between the ones that went and the ones that stayed. We can’t tell how long this will last, of course and it may just be that the video owner/poster has not got round to removing them yet. Either way, it’s good to see debate happening at last.

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