Detained Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi is the latest poster child for a U.K.-based activist group whose signature tactic is to post fake adverts on London billboards.
- American Jews: Ahed Tamimi is your issue, too
- Joan of Arc in a West Bank village
- And if Ahed Tamimi were your daughter?
Her arrest and detention on December 19 for slapping an Israeli officer has sparked worldwide protests, with demonstrations in recent weeks in, among others, New York, Berlin, Hamburg, Brussels and Amsterdam calling for her release. The New York demonstration turned ugly when a group of counterprotesters from the Jewish Defense League showed up and started chanting for Tamimi to be jailed.
The London posters feature a black-and-white sketch of the confrontation between 16-year-old activist Tamimi and the Israeli soldier in her home village of Nabi Saleh, in the West Bank, on December 17. They also features the tag line “Free Ahed Tamimi” and the strapline “Freedom for Palestinian Prisoners.”
Tamimi's cousin, Nour Tamimi, 21, was indicted on Sunday for aggravated assault of a soldier and preventing a soldier from carrying out his duties. Ahed Tamimi’s mother, Nuriman, has also been detained for filming the incident and posting it on Facebook.
The pro-Tamimi posters started appearing on bus shelters across the capital last week. They are the brainchild of the groups London Palestine Action and Protest Stencil, who have previously worked on similar grassroots ad campaigns on the city’s transport network.
Protest Stencil’s modus operandi is to either stencil messages over regular ad campaigns or stick up official-looking ads in support of various radical causes.
In 2016, the groups marked Israel Apartheid Week – an international event held on university campuses – by illegally placing hundreds of posters across London Underground, highlighting such issues as Palestinian child prisoners, alleged BBC bias and demolitions of terrorists’ homes.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was outraged by the move and announced he had personally asked representatives to demand the posters be removed. For its part, London Underground said it considered the posters to be an act of vandalism and that they would be removed whenever they were found.
Previous direct action by London Palestine Action included a 2014 stunt in which activists shut down a Elbit-owned drone engine factory in central England for two days after occupying the building’s roof.
The guerrilla actions have also outraged Anglo-Jewish leaders. Last September, umbrella body the Board of Deputies of British Jews complained to London Transport over mock adverts calling for the cancellation of a program of events aimed at promoting Tel Aviv.
On its social media pages, London Palestine Action describes itself as “taking creative action against Israeli apartheid through BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions] and other effective, participatory Palestine solidarity work.”
The Protest Stencil motto, meanwhile, is “You can do a lot of damage with a craft knife.”
The Tamimi ad campaign has also spread online after Protest Stencil posted images of its artwork on Twitter. On the #AhedTamimiLondon page, social activist Pauline Park said the posters served “to educate #London about the brutality & violence of #ApartheidIsrael’s attacks on innocent defenseless #Palestinian #children who are routinely assaulted & imprisoned.” An Israeli, @dligdi345, responded that if Tamimi “had done it in London, to a Met [police] officer, they would have broken her arms.”
Protest Stencil has also targeted Nick Cave following his decision to play in Tel Aviv last November. The group added the words “SOLD OUT to Israel Apartheid” to official posters promoting Cave’s headline performance at a one-day festival in London in June.