The design story of the Gaza ceasefire marches

Marches have been taking place across the world, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. Here designer Sana Iqbal highlights some of the protest posters that have been used to call for peace, and explains the symbolism behind them

Recent weeks have seen thousands of people across the world take to the streets to call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and a mutual hostage exchange. People from all walks of life, including Jewish and Palestinian movements, are working together to call for an end to Israel’s occupation, and equal rights and freedoms for both Palestinians and Israelis. It’s the social justice movement of our age, from the shut down of San Francisco Bay Bridge to chants of ‘Free Palestine’ echoing across every major city on earth.

Director and artist B Human has been creating graphics for UK-based Jewish movements, such as the Black-Jewish Alliance and Na’amod, to promote the national marches for Palestine. Their posters are illustrated with the Star of David, a symbol of Jewish identity and Judaism, created out of slices of watermelon.

“Palestinians were banned from flying the Palestinian flag, [so] they used the watermelon … as it contains the same colours as the flag and the fruit itself is cultivated in the region,” explains Human. This powerful fusion of symbols visualises Jews and Palestinians working together for Palestinian freedom, and in turn peaceful co-existence.

By B Human
By Thomas Greenwood

The Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) is one of the organisers behind the UK marches, which have been called some of the biggest in British history. Thomas Greenwood, design and content coordinator for Equity Trade Union, created the PSC posters to promote the marches.

Asked about his experience of the protests, he said: “I’ve felt safe at every single march and haven’t witnessed any Islamophobia or antisemitism – not to say it doesn’t exist but just that it’s in such a minority.” His latest poster shows a peace dove in Palestinian colours holding an olive branch, a national symbol of Palestine. The marches have seen a diverse mix of groups including LGBTQIA+ and trade unions: “The solidarity that can come from something so sad is a beautiful thing to see,” says Greenwood.

By M(Olly) Costello
By Jessica Thornton

The movement has faced hostile censorship. The creative world is no exception, with Artforum magazine firing its editor, David Velansco, for expressing calls for a ceasefire, and PALFest and PALMusic having their original venues cancelled at the last hour because of security concerns.

Many remain steadfast, including Palestinian artist Halima Aziz. She uses her art to paint a “vision of a future where our shared humanity triumphs”. Her illustrations are rich in Palestinian culture. “[From] olive trees to the resilient keffiyeh patterns, our symbols speak a language of resistance, a visual anthem echoing through the ages,” Aziz explains. One of her artworks portrays the unsung heroes of Gaza, including doctors and journalists, many of whom have been killed or are still working under hellish conditions.

By Halima Aziz
By Nadina Ali

Allyship is paramount to the success of any social justice movement. Nadina Ali, a graphic artist from Marseille, addresses the recent suppression of Palestinian solidarity, commenting, “showing support to an oppressed people is not a crime”. “I’ve been using my work to make it very clear that speaking up against the killing of thousands of innocent civilians is not wrong and encourage people to continue speaking up about this great injustice,” she continues.

The movement is global, with designers across the world using their talent and platform to support Palestinian liberation. Micah Bazant, a visual artist and cultural organiser, has created posters used by the American-Jewish movements Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow. Their posters were waved outside the White House during a protest calling for President Biden to support a permanent ceasefire. Bazant is also part of a collective of global artists donating their art to support Palestinian solidarity action. The free resource is home to over 150 posters on offer to activists and organisers.

By Micah Bazant
By Nadina Ali

These artists and designers are placing their shared humanity above all else. From not allowing their grief to justify more bloodshed, to using their platform to support the Palestinians in their struggle for liberation, they are truly using design for change, and encourage everyone to use their privilege, power, and creativity to keep up the momentum.

Sana Iqbal is a graphic designer based in the UK and is founder of Studio Sana; @studiosana_