Israeli fury at unofficial ads on London Underground

Activists from London Palestine Action put up these posters criticizing Israel’s apartheid policies against Palestinians all over London’s underground train network early Sunday morning.

An activist from the group, who did not want to be named, told The Electronic Intifada that they posted 150 copies around at least four different lines on the network. The activist provided these photos.

These posters are “subvertisements,” political messages designed to look like sanctioned advertising. They were fitted on top of paid ads, the activist said.

The action was timed to coincide with the launch of this year’s Israeli Apartheid Week in the UK on Monday.

In a statement sent to The Electronic Intifada, the activists said: “Israel and its supporters are used to having the mainstream media repeat their talking points. Our action’s aim is to shine a spotlight on the support that Israel receives from the UK government and arms industry and UK companies like G4S as well as the one sided reporting which is endemic in the BBC.”

The UK Zionist Federation on Monday called for authorities to “apprehend the original culprits.”

Photos of the posters began appearing on social media Sunday evening.

Transport authorities confirmed to the Jewish Chronicle that many of the unofficial ads were still up Monday morning. A spokesperson told the paper Monday that the posters were being removed.

This means they would have been seen during this morning’s rush hour by some of the millions of commuters that use the tube network every day.

Update: London Palestine Action has now published the full original posters for people to use online or “print them off and post them wherever! Responsibly (obviously).”

Israeli fury

Israeli politicians reacted with near hysteria on Monday.

Israel’s foreign ministry called the subvertisements “inciteful” and said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had instructed their director-general to “demand” the posters’ “immediate removal” during a visit to London for talks with the UK foreign office.
Two Israeli opposition leaders also condemned the ads. Yair Lapid claimed the ads were “anti-Semitic” and implied that he had persuaded the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to remove them.
Former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, who in 2009 evaded a UK arrest warrant for war crimes, denied that Israel practices apartheid and said the posters showed that the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement “is against the existence of Israel.”

A spokesperson for the Israeli embassy in London claimed that the ads were a “grim” act of “vandalism.”

Full statement

London Palestine Action activists issued this full statement detailing references for all the facts stated on the posters:

London Tube Subvertisment: The campaign was done by activists from London Palestine Action (LPA) for the launch of the Israeli Apartheid Week 2016. Approximately 150 posters were neatly placed on top of adverts already located in the tube carriages. The reasoning behind the action was not only to promote the start of the Israeli Apartheid Week but also to counterattack Western media’s silence over the situation in Palestine. As public bodies, local councils and student unions are threatened to be banned by law from boycotting “unethical” companies, Israeli Apartheid Week and similar collective actions are more crucial and relevant than ever. The subvertisments cover four issues:

  • The BBC repeatedly sacrificing the truth on the altar of their pro-Israeli bias
  • The infamous British security company, G4S, helping in the imprisonment and abuse of thousands of Palestinians, including hundreds of children
  • The UK – Israeli arms trade resulting in massacres of Palestinians, but also greasing the cogs of the Israeli apartheid machine
  • The destruction of Palestinian homes becoming a means of routine collective punishment under the Israeli occupation

BBC Bias: In the first eight months of 2015, Israeli occupation forces injured more than 1,372 Palestinians and between October - December 2015, 116 Palestinians were killed. Not only has the Western media ignored the extrajudicial killings but the coverage misrepresented and was completely bias towards Israel, particularly in the BBC news. Once again, BBC was forced to admit its coverage of the situation in the West bank has been misleading and refuses to acknowledge Palestinian deaths and their suffering under occupation. In a letter to Netanyahu, B’Tselem condemned the Israeli government: “Your government permits – and encourages – the transformation of police officers, and even of armed civilians, into judges and executioners.” Dania Irshied, a 17 year old, was one of the many victims of extrajudicial killings that continue until today. Amnesty International called on Israel to bring its “pattern of unlawful killings” to an end.

Child prisoners and G4S: More than 500 Palestinian children are arrested, detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system every year. G4S provides services to the Israeli prison system making it complicit in the illegal occupation of Palestine and the unlawful imprisonment of Palestinians, including children. By outsourcing occupation-related work to G4S, the Israeli state frees itself from accountability for human rights violations and breaches of international laws. G4S is one of the UK’s most reviled companies engaged in conflict related profit making the world over.

Apartheid is Great (Britain): UK is directly complicit in Israel’s continuing violations of human rights and international law. British-made arms worth £7m were used by Israel to massacre more than 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza. By purchasing arms from and selling arms to Israel, the UK government is giving direct material support for Israel’s aggression and sending a clear message of approval for its actions. Almost 100 companies supplying military & security equipment to Israel are based in the UK. Amongst suppliers on your doorstep are BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, G4S, Boeing, Elbit Systems. Israeli companies make enormous profits from military technology that is “field-tested” on Palestinians. The UK government sponsors three “major defence and security exhibitions in the UK” – DSEI, Farnborough International and Security & Policing arm fairs.

House Demolitions: Since October 2015, 29 demolitions were carried out in occupied East Jerusalem. In January 2016, Israel demolished three Palestinian homes in punitive actions, leaving 18 persons homeless. In 2014, Israel demolished 1,177 homes in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank. This policy is a form of collective punishment, and in accordance with humanitarian and human rights law, is assessed as a war crime and a crime against humanity.




Well done to the tube posters, more please and maybe bloodier?


How on earth did they do that without getting caught?! Even on late night trains, there are always other passengers.


If the commuters don't care about the Israeli's committing genocide against the Palestinians in their own homeland, then why the hell would they care about someone putting up signs in a commuter train?


As a poster below commented, it's easy enough to "get away with it". Just dress and act like you have every right to be putting up the posters. As democratic citizens we do actually have this right anyway. Which if the activists have a a legal team, this is likely the sort of argument that would be made in court.


I see Israel has a name for the posters. What is the difference between subvertisements and propaganda? Has Israel stated that the posters are false? It seems to me the difference between propaganda and subvertisements is the fact that the subvertisements are true and what Israel is posting is propaganda and lies. Israel is a terrorist and welfare state and nothing more.


I love this whole action; seriously good troll work.


No amount of "inciteful" propaganda, or anti-Zionist "subvertisements," will be able to counter balance and undo the Hasbara we are all routinely subjected to.


I suspect Stanley that they did mean inciteful!

It is however noticeable that the 'centrist' Zionist Yair Lapid, the 'left-wing' Tsipi Livni and Netanyahu all sang from the same song sheet. Equally it is noticeable that they didn't challenge any of the posters as being wrong.

It would therefore appear that the new definition of 'anti-Semitism' is to tell the truth!


Thanks for this report, and well done those that have conceived this campaign. As Mr Simmons has wisely noted, is there anything untrue here? But I don't know what Israel's worried about; they have trussed up the western leaders in their deferential moral straitjackets and there'll be the usual reflexic expressions of horror and fraternal understanding. (And nice comment, Mr Heller)

Funny thing is that within 100 years, there'll be no Palestine or Israel; no more arguments, nor more war or blood or misery - merely a dry searing desert - another "empty quarter", where the only thing you'll trip over under the blinding sun will be the odd crumbling building protruding from under the sands or perhaps the tail of some carelessly discarded Israeli nuclear bomb.


Well done!
Why did no one stop them? Maybe people agreed with them. Maybe people thought they were official. Who knows, who cares.
I am one of a group of people who hold vigils in Toronto, Canada, every week in front of the Israeli consulate and Chapters Indigo (whose owner supports the Israeli military). Once an elderly Jewish couple stopped to express their outrage at what we were saying. They didn't deny its truth -- they were angry because we were saying it in front of the goyim.


"Israel" doesn't have a right to exist. Nations don't have rights, humans have rights, which the humans under the "Israel" banner are denying to the population of humans they're subjugating in Palestine. A smokescreen of religion and past persecutions is being used to commit crimes against humanity, it is really that simple.


I found the request by UK zionist federation to "apprehend the original culprits" to be most ironic. Occupation is the original crime


Often, when the official media suppress the truth, subversion is the only way to bring it to light.


Well done this group. Israel fears the truth more than anything else.


We suffer the immoral acts of G4s and biased right wing media in the UK because we have an immoral and biased government. We do have the power to change that government and until we do will reap what we sow.


It is ironic that Israel's representatives find the truth to be inciting. That's what it's supposed to be: a call to attention, to recognition of what is wrong and what should be set right. That is the function of the truth. It is gratifying to see at the truth of Israel's brutal occupation and oppression of Palestinians riding the trains with people. Hooray for those individuals who went about inciting a reaction to the truth of Israel's apartheid.


Israel know they're living a lie and for this reason there only concerned with propaganda. It is the idiocy of people to believe that lying about the truth is okay because what they're doing is so right it is okay to lie about it. They believe, in their own self-righteousness and the world is to dumb to understand. They believe themselves to be smarter than everyone else. This psychological self induced brainwashing makes it okay for them to break the rules of decency that others should adhere to and definitely not do to them. If you do what they do to them you're anti-semitic. They do what they do to Palestinians and believe they're going to heaven inspite of it. Palestinians on the other hand will go to hell for treating them the same. Israeli's are psychologically damaged or crazy. There are no other words for it. We could say ignorant but ignorance is based on a lack of knowledge, so I must use words like insane and brainwashed and scrubbed clean of all common sense and logical reasoning.


"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had instructed their director-general to “demand” the posters’ “immediate removal” during a visit to London for talks with the UK foreign office. "

And if his demands are not met, these terrorist tunnels under the streets of London will be subject to immediate and complete destruction. Because you simply can't reason with people who are brought up to blindly hate.


Just visited the blessed lands of Palestine over the long weekend.
I can't believe how the Palestinians are being treated. One guy was shot several times and killed at the Damascus gate around 09:30 am very close to our hotel.
Saturday morning our group were going out on an excursion and one of the guards pulled a gun on me just for looking at them.
I now see them as wimps and will keep visiting every year to show my support to the Palestinian people God willing.


This is a brilliant idea. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the idea spread to all the world's subways...Paris, New York, Madrid, Washington DC, and all the rest?


Well done, more please!


Uk government continues to support Apartheid even after the fall of it in the 90's, history repeats itself...what a shame


I am delighted to hear of the action taken. Well done. We need more such direct action - about time the public is faced with the truth of what is going on in Palestine and what atrocities are being comited by Israel.


Inciteful and Anti-Semetic?? where does it suggest violence against anybody, where does it say Jews are the devil?? where does it state anything other than the COLD HARD TRUTH.

I live for the day that Israeli criticism is no longer defended with "Anti Semetic" that is their ONLY retort and it's getting play out every day that passes.


I am proud to be British when I see this open insightful representation of repression to oppress a people back to the stone age.

Get it on face book social media and croud source - the Israelis are right to be shameful and want to cover up the truth of their shame and hate crimes.


Palestinian life matters. Stop apartheid, stop murdering, stop stealing lands, destroy homes. Let THE indigenous live their life


I don't know how much it's spreading on subways but the same post are spreading all over my Facebook Page and they are open for all my friends to share and see. They can have all the ads removed from the subways but they won't be having them removed from Facebook. Never trust people who are afraid of the truth because they have a lie to hide. A hypocrite is a person who lies to himself. A fool is a hypocrite who thinks he can hide the truth from everyone else. In essence, logically speaking: only a fool would try to make a fool of everyone else.

Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London. He is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada and co-host of our podcast.

He is author of the new book Weaponising Anti-Semitism: How the Israel Lobby Brought Down Jeremy Corbyn (OR Books, May 2023).

UK book tour now on! Click here for full details and updated venues.