Propaganda dominates coverage of the Israeli military occupation, and its supporters are used to having the mainstream media repeat their talking points. Our actions aim to turn propaganda on its head, by “subvertising” the reality of the situation.
We decorated trains on the London Tube with posters meant to illuminate the support that Israeli authorities obtain from the British government, media, and arms industries. At a time when pro-Palestinian activism is increasingly under attack, it is important to get creative, in order to affect popular discourse.
The subvertisements focused on four targets: the BBC, security company G4S, British arms deals with Israel, and housing demolitions in the Occupied Territories.
Media outlets like the BBC have mostly ignored the violence, and when it is covered, there is a clear bias against Palestinians, misleading the audience about what is actually going on. Once again, the BBC was forced to admit that there were serious problems in its coverage of the West Bank, which has prioritised Israeli narratives at the expense of serious journalism.
More than 500 Palestinian children are arrested, detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system every year. G4S provides services to Israeli prisons, making it complicit in the occupation of Palestine and the unlawful imprisonment of Palestinians, including children.
Furthermore, by contracting G4S for occupation-related work, the Israeli government is able to obfuscate its direct accountability for human rights violations, and the breaching of international law. G4S itself is involved in conflict situations all over the world.
British-made arms worth £7m were used by Israel during the latest conflict in Gaza, killing more than 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza. By selling arms to Israel (as well as purchasing them from Israel), the UK government is providing direct material support for Israel’s occupation, and sending a clear message of approval for its actions.
Over 100 companies supplying military and security equipment to Israel are currently based in the United Kingdom. They include BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, G4S, Boeing, and Elbit Systems. Israeli companies make enormous profits from technology that arises from the occupation. Moreover, the UK empowers militaries worldwide by sponsoring three “major defence and security exhibitions in the UK” – the DSEI, Farnborough International, and Security and Policing arm fairs.
In January 2016, Israel demolished three Palestinian homes in punitive actions, leaving eighteen people homeless. This has become relatively common. For instance, in 2014, Israel demolished 1,177 homes in occupied East Jerusalem, and the West Bank. They are meant to solidify Israeli control of the Occupied Territories, frame a narrative of Israeli resistance to international pressure, and further subvert the already deteriorated prospects of Palestinian autonomy and independence.
We encourage activists and supporters to print our high quality posters, which are now available for download. Please feel free to use them online, and post them wherever. Just remember that subvertising is about taking advantage of the attention that people usually give advertisements, and turning it into a political act. Keep your targets focused, and don’t lose track of the need to craft an alternate narrative.
Photographs courtesy of London Palestine Action.