Edinburgh’s Protest Stickers: Israel-Palestine

Stickers sympathetic to Palestine are not new, but they began to appear more frequently in Edinburgh after violence flared up in May 2021 (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

The conflict between Israel and Palestine is an incredibly complex one that has been going on for decades. Every so often violence flares up, drawing international attention back to the region. The most recent outbreak started on 10th May 2021, sparked by the predicted eviction of four Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in East Jerusalem. Control of the area is contested, and more than 1000 Palestinian families are currently at risk of eviction.

Most of the protest stickers I have found in the UK are sympathetic to Palestine, it is very rare to find pro-Israeli ones. The conflict is a relatively common topic of stickers (I wrote a blog post about pro-Palestinian stickers in London back in 2017), but when the violence gets worse the frequency of stickers increases. With the outbreak of hostilities in May, the number of stickers in Edinburgh went up. Several of the designs I have seen before in other cities, but some are unique, and some are specific to Edinburgh.

Campaigns to support Palestine is nothing new. I photographed this sticker in 2020, but it is referring to an event in 2016. On 17th August 2016, the Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland hosted an event as part of the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe to promote Israeli cultural performers. No 2 Brand Israel organised a series of events to oppose this, as part of the BDS strategy. BDS stands for Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions, and a strategy adopted by organisations around the world in 2005 to put pressure on Israel to comply with international law (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
This sticker is calling for the boycott of Israeli-made goods, a key element of the BDS strategy. The Palestinian flag, and colours of the flag, are a common feature of pro-Palestinian stickers (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
This sticker was produced by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, an active group that does what it says on the tin really (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
This is another sticker that predates the current conflict. It was produced by rs21, otherwise known as Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st Century, which produces commentary and analysis on a broad range of issues and events. They also support BDS (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
This sticker was also produced by rs21. Benjamin Netanyahu was Israeli Prime Minister between 1996 and 1999, and 2009 and June 2021. This sticker appeared in the Meadowbank area of Edinburgh in May 2021, but the design dates back to 2014 (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
This is another sticker that appeared in 2021, but was designed much earlier. I first spotted it in London in 2017. It was produced by the Socialist Worker Student Society, the student section of the Socialist Workers Party, another revolutionary socialist group (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
Street artists and taggers have used the ‘Hello my name is…’ stickers for a long time because they are cheap and readily available. It is less common to see them used as protest stickers, but they’re effective! (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
The text on this handwritten sticker is faded, but it reads ‘Palestine will be free” (Photo: Hannah Awcock)
This sticker doesn’t explicitly mention Palestine, but because it is the same pen and handwriting as the previous sticker, and I found them relatively close together near the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, I assume that this one is also about Palestine (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

London’s Protest Stickers: Israel-Palestine

15-04-15 Oxford Street

This is not technically a sticker, but I like the work of this artist, so I decided to include it (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Oxford Street, 15/04/15).

On the 25th of August, Frankfurt City Council approved a bill that will ban the use of municipal funds for Boycott, Divestment Sanctions (BDS) activities targeting Israel, if it is approved by the city parliament. Frankfurt is the first German city to take this step, but it looks like Munich will follow suit in the autumn (Jerusalem Post, 2017).Uwe Becker, the deputy mayor and city treasurer for Frankfurt, argues that the movement is anti-Semitic. The BDS movement campaigns to put economic pressure on the Israeli state in order to compel Israel to obey international law in its dealings with Palestine. Founded in 2005, BDS is a coalition of groups from Palestine and around the world. London’s protest stickers suggest that support for the BDS movement is much stronger here than it is in Germany. In fact, every sticker I have found in relation to the Israel-Palestine conflict in London is pro-Palestine.

You can see where I found these stickers on the Turbulent London Map.

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The colour scheme of BDS stickers usually reflects the Palestinian flag, which has three horizontal strips of black, white, and green, overlaid with a red triangle on the left hand side. War on Want is an organisation that campaigns on multiple issues relating to human rights, social justice, and the root causes of poverty (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Lewisham Way, 20/03/16).

25-02-15 Royal Mint Street

This sticker, which features the Palestian flag, is produced by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which claims to be the biggest organisation in the UK campaigning for Palestinian human rights (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Royal Mint Street, 25/02/15).

25-02-15 Cable Street (2)

This sticker doesn’t directly refer to the BDS campaign, but it does also use the colours of the Palestinian flag (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Cable Street, 25/02/15).

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Again, this sticker uses the colour scheme of the Palestinian flag (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Pentonville Road, 23/03/17)

12-05-15 British Museum

I suspect that this sticker was designed to be worn by people rather than street furniture, because of its small, round shape. However, stickers worn on street furniture tends to last longer than stickers worn on clothes (Photo: Hannah Awcock, British Museum, 12/05/15).

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This sticker was produced by the Socialist Worker Student Society, the student arm of the Socialist Worker’s Party, a revolutionary party that campaigns for socialism and internationalism (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Malet Street, 28/05/17).

15-04-15 Russell Square

This sticker does not use the traditional BDS colour scheme, but it does illustrate the logic behind BDS in a way that I think is quite striking (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Russell Square, 15/04/15).

17-02-15 Malet Street (2)

The boycott element of BDS includes academia. In 2015, the SOAS Student Union held a referendum over whether or not the university should implement an academic boycott. The students voted yes to the boycott (Photo: Hanna Awcock, Malet Street, 17/02/15).

12-03-15 Gordon Street, Bloomsbury (3)

This sticker Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st century is a group that campaigns on a whole range of issues. This sticker is calling for BDS, using the image of Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Gordon Street, Bloomsbury, 09/08/15).