Passengers using the London Underground on Sunday evening and Monday morning were shocked to see a series of posters decrying so-called Israeli apartheid. The posters purported to be official advertisements, placed in the regular Transport for London (TfL) poster slots inside trains, and made false anti-Israel claims, including that BBC reporting shows a bias in favor of Israel.
Complaints began to pour in to TfL and the Mayor of London’s office on Monday morning from individuals, politicians and organizations. By mid-morning it had been established that the posters were in fact the work of supporters of BDS, an anti-Israel movement, who claimed responsibility for them on social media. The campaign was apparently carried out to mark “Israel Apartheid Week.”
TfL responded very quickly to the complaints, saying, “These are not authorized adverts. It is fly-posting and therefore an act of vandalism which we take extremely seriously. Our staff and contractors are working to immediately remove any found on our network.”
The London Jewish Forum, which was one of the key organizations liaising with TfL over this matter, said, “These posters are awful smears that do nothing to contribute to peace and dialogue, placing significant strains on intercommunity relations across London. They are an act of vandalism, seeking to undermine the U.K.’s relationship with Israel and designed to foster discomfort. We welcome Transport for London’s commitment to quickly remove them.”
Members of the London Assembly across the political spectrum condemned the posters. Labour Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden Andrew Dismore AM raised the issue with TfL. He told Hamodia, “As soon as I heard about this, I got on to TfL senior management, as these notices are clearly against TfL’s advertising policy rules.
“It appears they are cleverly designed fly-posters, to fit TfL advertising frames in substitution for, or over the top of, legitimate commercial adverts.
“TfL has promised me they are removing them, though they have to find them first, as they are spread about the network.
“I would urge anyone who sees one to report it to TfL staff so it can be promptly removed and disposed of. Such misleading propaganda has no place on public transport.”
Conservative Assembly Member Richard Tracey, who is the transport spokesman, described it as “utterly deplorable that these offensive ‘adverts’ have been smeared across parts of the tube network by a small number of activists.”
He urged TfL to “do everything within its power” to both remove the posters and catch those responsible for distributing them. Tracey said the posters were “racist and deeply insensitive.”
Barnet Councillor Dean Cohen wrote to London’s deputy mayor for transport Isabel Dedring and London Underground chief executive Nick Brown to demand that the posters be removed, after he received complaints from constituents.
London Mayor Boris Johnson has personally confirmed that the posters would be taken down as quickly as they are found, after he was approached by MK Yair Lapid about the matter.