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Alitalia Brochure on Mideast Rapped

In response to a protest by the American Jewish Congress, Alitalia Airlines has agreed to discontinue a brochure promoting its Middle East tour program that conspicuously avoids mention of Israel. The airline acted after AJCongress had charged that the brochure was “offensive” and that the omission of any reference to Israel was “deliberate.”

In a letter to Alitalia, associate executive director Phil Baum wrote: “To underscore the deliberate nature of this offensive omission, the brochure includes a map naming all of the countries surrounding the Mediterranean–Italy, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt. And yet we are given to understand by your map that Jerusalem and Haifa are situated in an entity called ‘Holyland.'”

Continuing, Baum noted that the brochure “describes Cairo as the capital of Egypt, Damascus as the capital of Syria and Amman as the capital of Jordan. Equally carefully it omits any reference to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

In reply, Alitalia’s U.S. marketing manager acknowledged the omission but disclaimed responsibility for it, asserting that the brochure had been prepared and distributed by a travel agency (Nawas International) which uses Alitalia as the airline for its Middle East tours. He wrote:

“We have contacted Nawas International, and its managing director has taken due note of your remarks and has committed himself to see that…the anomalies mentioned in your letter will be corrected to avoid the ‘historical and geographical distortions’ you are referring to.”

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