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Explained: Watermelon and Palestinian Resistance

To circumvent the ban on their National Flag, Palestinians started using images of watermelons on art, shirts, murals, posters, and even as emojis on social media. Read More

Tuesday October 31, 2023 11:33 PM, Hena Farhat, ummid.com

Explained: Watermelon and Palestinian Resistance

Hounded, oppressed, tortured, brutalized and dehumanized, yet the Palestinians are using all means, including art, to press for their rights on the occupied lands under the control of the Zionist regime in Israel.

Social media platforms since their emergence are flooded with the memes, emojis, art and intelligently recorded short videos that are reminiscent of the creative and innovative ideas of the Palestinians.

Besides, they also show their apathy and the power of their resistance against the occupied regime in a non-violent way thus adding a new chapter in the freedom struggles and movements that the world witnessed in the past.

One such example is WATERMELON. Yes, watermelon.

Watermelons are cultivated throughout Palestine from Jenin to Gaza. But, the popular fruit became a symbol of RESSISTANCE and started being widely used in literary works after the Israeli crackdown on the Palestinian flags - in red, white, black and green much like the watermelon colours.

Israeli crackdown against the Palestinian flags started in 1967 when Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem that hosts Al Aqsa Mosque after the third Arab-Israel war. Besides banning many other things, the occupying forces also made public display of the Palestinian flag a crime.

“They also said it was a crime to paint the Palestinian flag, and the colors on the flag were banned,” Artist Sliman Mansour told The National.

Sliman said the Israeli officials also blocked an art exhibition in Ramallah in 1980 that featured works by him and other artists, including Nabil Anani and Issam Badarl.

To circumvent the ban on thier National Flag, Palestinians started using images of watermelons on art, shirts, murals, posters, and even as emojis on social media. Watermelon was now a symbol of protest.

Interestingly, the ban on the Palestinian flag was lifted with the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO). As per this accord, the flag was also accepted as representing the Palestinian Authority. Oslo Accord was the first formal agreement to resolve the conflict in the Middle East.

But, in early 2023, Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gwiri instructed police to confiscate Palestinian flags from public places. In June 2023, a bill to ban the flag at government-funded institutions, including universities, was passed after receiving initial approval from Knesset – the Israeli parliament, according to a report in Haaretz.

However, displaying Palestinian flag remained a crime since 1967 in Gaza Strip where some youths were once arrested for even carrying sliced watermelons, journalist John Kifner wrote in a New York Times article published in 2021.

Explained: Watermelon and Palestinian Resistance

Later, Arab-Israeli peace organization ZAZIM launched a campaign to protest the crackdown on people waving flags in public. The campaign involved placing pictures of watermelons on shared taxis plying in Tel Aviv. The posters came with the message that this is not the Palestinian flag, according to The Times of Israel.

“We will always find a way to overcome any ban and we will not stop fighting for freedom of expression and democracy,” the outlet reported, quoting ZAZIM director Raluca Gania.

Then there were other Palestinians who started carrying watermelons with them as a small but highly symbolic act of resistance against the Israeli occupation as they go about their daily lives.

Peace activists around the world also started using watermelon emojis after they noticed that their posts with hash tags such as #IStandWithPalestine and #FreePalestine are being shadow banned by social media platforms.

Watermelon images and posters are also being prominently displayed in pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist rallies and marches currently seen on the world landscape following the brutal and relentless bombardments and inhuman siege of the Gaza Strip that started after the Palestinian Resistance group Hamas launched what it called “operation al Aqsa Flood” October 07, 2023 killing more than 1,400 people, according to the Israeli officials.

The Palestinian authorities in Gaza Strip said over 8,000 people – majority of them women and children, have been killed in the Israeli airstrikes and bombardments.

More than 110 Palestinians have also been killed by the Israeli forces in the Occupied West Bank that has no presence of Hamas militants thus belying the Israeli claim that its response is targeted at the Hamas, and not the Palestinians.


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