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LA Times runs same ‘Skip the Trip’ ad Variety Magazine censored

LA Times runs same ‘Skip the Trip’ ad Variety Magazine censored

Adeeba Mabruk contributed to this report

An advertisement calling on Oscar nominees to “Skip the Trip” to Israel—which is being offered in gift bags to be passed out at the Academy Awards show on Sunday—was censored and denied print by Variety Magazine.

The advertisement was paid for by Jewish Voice for Peace and co-sponsored by the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. Days after payment, the advertisement was denied to be published due to the tone. The decision was made by publisher Michelle Sobrino, according to JVP’s press release.

“Our intention was to raise awareness about the depths to which the Israeli government is going to improve its image in the court of public opinion. Over $1.5 million is being offered to Oscar nominees to go on an all-expense paid trip to Israel – and our ad was designed to ask those stars and cultural workers to think twice about giving cover to Israel’s apartheid policies,” Ari Wohlfeiler, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) Deputy Director, told Palestine in America.

“But when the ad was censored, it added a whole new layer to the project, which is to expose the depths to which censorship – and, even worse in some ways, self-censorship – prevents real conversation about Palestinian human rights today,” Wohlfeiler added.

The exact same advertisement that was rejected by Variety was accepted by the Los Angeles Times. A full-page color ad calling on Oscar nominees to “Skip The Trip” was published in the Calendars section of the L.A. Times on Wednesday.

The Academy distanced itself from Distinctive Assets, which is responsible for the goodie bags that include the trip, by filing a lawsuit against the company,  Variety reported. The Academy also reacted to the backlash caused by the gift bags by stating, “The Academy has no affiliation with Distinctive Assets.”

The $55,000 dollar trip will be covered by the Israeli government. Israel’s Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said the purpose of the gift was to allow big-time Hollywood celebrities to “experience the country first hand and not through the media,” Haaretz reported.

Aside from the all-expenses paid trip to Israel, the gift bags included a certificate for plastic surgery—a ‘vampire breast lift’—and a sex toy.

As part of the Boycott Divest and Sanctions (BDS) call, U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and other Palestine solidarity organizations started a petition to inform the nominees that were being offered the free trip.

“We are asking cultural workers – in this case, Oscar nominees – to refuse participation in BrandIsrael activities – in this case, a all-expense paid trip that is essential a PR offering by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism. But more generally, we are asking people to consider cultural boycott as one of the most effective tools we have to force a change in Israeli policies. We know from the South African movement against apartheid that cultural boycott works,” Wohlfeiler said.

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