Fujifilm wrongly accused of leaving Israel off map

WASHINGTON — Jewish organizations are coming to the aid of two Japanese corporations erroneously accused of disseminating world maps without Israel.

E-mails have been circulating urging Jews to boycott Fuji Photo Film U.S.A. Inc., claiming that the company has been distributing a promotional world map — without Israel — to woo Arab customers. The e-mails say people should boycott the Subaru car manufacturer, claiming it is the parent company of Fujifilm.

"Fuji Co. removed Israel from its complimentary world map which is distributed to their customers with a purchase," the e-mail, whose author is unknown, reads. "Yes, in Fuji stores abroad you receive the world map without Israel!!!"

Later in the e-mail it tells people "Subaru is Fuji." In fact, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. is the parent company of Subaru of America Inc. Though it shares the same common Japanese name, the company is unrelated to the film manufacturer.

Fujifilm has received more than 500 e-mail complaints on the issue. Its representatives say a third-party wholesaler in the Ivory Coast produced and distributed — without permission — a calendar bearing the Fuji logo that excluded Israel.

"Apparently this third-party wholesaler created a calendar with a map, and put our logo on the map," Fuji spokesman Tom Shay said. "They did not have permission to use our logo."

The company says it is very concerned about the issue, and had corporate executives in Japan visit the Israeli Consulate there to explain the situation.

A Subaru of America spokesman said his company is "troubled by the whole situation," noting that Israel is a prominent market for Subaru automobiles.

"We've made it clear to customers," Subaru spokesman Rob Moran said. "We have sort of delineated what the differences are and the fact that we are not involved or implicated in these things."

Officials at several Jewish organizations have been besieged with complaints from people upset over the Fujifilm rumors.

The Anti-Defamation League listed Fuji's response on its Web site. Because of the call volume, even the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, which normally deals with media issues, was forced to circulate an e-mail with the Fuji and Subaru responses to the incident.

Shay said Fujifilm has not decided whether it should be more proactive in fighting the rumor.

"We are really watching it very closely," he said. "We certainly don't want to add to the issue if it is going to resolve itself. Previous e-mail "urban legends" have claimed that Wal-Mart stores were selling globes with Israel labeled "Palestine" and that the Sprint long-distance service was billing Israel calls as "Palestine."

The Wal-Mart claim was wrong, while Sprint said international standards obligated it to designate calls to the 970 country code as being to the Palestinian Authority, which it had inadvertently abbreviated to "Palestine."