Taking back Palestine’s streets: exclusive interview with underground Jerusalem graffiti artist

[“There’s no voice greater than the voice of the intifada” (Image courtesy of the artist)]

Graffiti has been a tool of the Palestinian liberation struggle for decades; during the first intifada in the late 1980s and early ’90s, Palestinians painted graffiti on all the walls as a means of protesting the occupation. Graffiti artists were met with brutal suppression if caught.

Young Palestinians are carrying on the legacy of art as a form of resistance today. On 12 January, an unknown group penetrated the heavily-fortified heart of West Jerusalem overnight and painted graffiti bearing political messages on walls, doors, construction sites and other surfaces. Most of the paintings pictured a woman’s face masked with a kuffiyeh, the traditional Palestinian checkered scarf. Below some of the images was the word “revolt” in Arabic.

The group hit the walls of Jerusalem again five days later, and issued an anonymous statement vowing to carry on their action to send messages to the Israeli and Palestinian communities.

In the following weeks, other groups took up the spray can torch in various cities including Haifa and Jaffa.

And in June, the Jerusalem activists took a daring step by painting graffiti on the doors and walls of governmental buildings as well as the doorways of Israeli houses in Jerusalem and Palestinian houses occupied since the ethnic cleansing of 1948. They sent the same messages calling upon Palestinians in general, and Palestinian women in particular, to revolt. They also painted “Remember Gaza” across the wall of one of the buildings in big letters.

Underground graffiti artist speaks out

A member of the group, a confident young Palestinian feminist activist who operates under the pseudonym “Laila,” spoke to The Electronic Intifada on condition of anonymity. Laila has been active in street art in Palestine before the creation of the anonymous Jerusalem group, focusing on painting both the walls of West and East Jerusalem.

“Some of the street art I have done was in what has now become West Jerusalem in Jewish-dominated areas,” said Laila. “Some other stuff I have done is in East Jerusalem where messages have been more about feminist messages to [Palestinian] women, mostly to wake up and not be drowned out by the patriarchal nature of our society.” Continue reading

2011: The ongoing Palestinian Nakba which Zionism has brought to Palestine

[“Nakba” is the Arabic word for “catastrophe,” — Frontlines ed.]

——————————————————————-

Israel Killed 180 Palestinians, Including 21 Children, in 2011

By Middle East Monitor

30 December, 2011
Middleeastmonitor.org.uk

The State of Israel killed 180 Palestinians in 2011, including 21 children. These shocking figures were given in a report issued by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation entitled, “A People under Occupation”. The year also saw 3,300 Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem detained by the Israeli occupation authorities.

The PLO report noted that in 2011 alone the government of the Zionist state approved the construction of another 26,837 settlement units across the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including 1,664 housing units in and around Occupied Jerusalem; almost 4,000 acres of land belonging to Palestinians have been confiscated by Israel; 495 houses have been demolished; and 18,764 olive and fruit trees have been uprooted.

With regards to Jerusalem, the report records that the establishment of the Shu’fat military checkpoint by the Israelis, which separates Jerusalem from the Shu’fat refugee camp, has resulted in the isolation of more than 60,000 Palestinians living in the camp and the areas around it. This is part of what the compilers of the report confirm is Israel’s Judaisation policy, as was the closure of the Magharba Gate Bridge which leads to Al Aqsa Mosque.

Illegal Jewish settlers, claims the PLO report, have committed a series of “terrorist” attacks on mosques throughout 2011, which escalated in December with arson attacks on the Okasha Mosque in West Jerusalem, the Nour Mosque in the village of Burqa in Ramallah, and the Ali Ibn Abi Talib Mosque in the village of Bruqin village in Salfit. Settlers also, the report notes, wrote racist slogans on the Sahaba Mosque in Bani Naim in Hebron and violated the sanctity of the St. John the Baptist Orthodox Church near the River Jordan.

Also in December, Jewish settlers set fire to at least 12 Palestinian vehicles across the occupied West Bank and confiscated around 500 acres of Palestinian land to expand their illegal settlements near Jenin and Bethlehem.