TFL to remove 'Normal People Boycott Israel' posters in London

TFL to remove 'Normal People Boycott Israel' posters in London
Posters at London bus stops that use the front cover image of Sally Rooney's book Normal People to call for a boycott of Israel are to be removed by Transport for London.
3 min read
19 October, 2021
Sally Rooney turned down an offer to have her new book translated into Hebrew [Twitter/@protestencil]

London’s Transport for London (TfL) has said that posters calling for a boycott of Israel and paying homage to Irish author Sally Rooney's best-selling novel Normal People are to be removed. 

The posters, which appeared at a London bus stop, use the front cover of Rooney’s book but with the title changed to - "Normal People Boycott Israel".

Protest Stencil - a "subvertiser" that frequently replaces ad spaces in London with political posters, has said they are behind the pro-Palestine guerilla art campaign.

London's transport authority, TfL, have described the work as an "act of vandalism" and said the posters will be removed “immediately”.

It comes after Rooney turned down a Hebrew translation of her latest novel Beautiful World, Where Are You, saying that the use of an Israeli-based publishing house would not comply with the Boycott, Divestments & Sanctions (BDS) movement's guidelines. 

Protest Stencil has been critical of Israel's occupation of the West Bank and siege of Gaza.

In June, the group unveiled posters highlighting the plight of residents in East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah, where Israeli settlers are attempting to expel local Palestinians from their homes.

Other posters put up in May read: "Israel's attacking Gaza again. How many more times is this OK?"

The subversive artists took to Twitter to explain their latest work. 

"You can tell a lot about a person from whether their solidarity is with the coloniser or the colonised. Respect to Sally Rooney for her principled stand in support of Palestinians," they wrote.

"Around the world, Normal People - the colonised, the exploited, the marginalised - have an instinctive solidarity with Palestinians resisting the theft of their homeland."

The New Arab reached out to Protest Stencil for further comment but received no response. 

Many approved of the group's pro-Palestine campaign while others initially believed the artwork was approved by TfL.

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"Would you please clarify - was this 'advertisement' originally approved by TfL, but now is under investigation? Or was it put up without any TfL input or approval?" Lord Wolfson, a justice minister, tweeted.

A spokesperson for TfL clarified that the posters had not been approved by the transport authority. 

"These adverts are not authorised by TfL or our advertising partner, JCDecaux," the spokesperson said.

"It is fly-posting and therefore an act of vandalism which we take extremely seriously. We have instructed our contractors to remove any of these posters found on our network immediately."