“A Picture of the House at Beit Jala,”
Banksy, the anonymous English graffiti artist may be the most mysterious and celebrated urban artist in the world today. Born out of the Bristol underground scene, Banksy has crossed the world leaving his/her mark on walls. Her/his 2010 film Exit Through the Gift Shop was nominated for an Oscar and this week HBO premiered a documentary on the artist, Banksy Does New York. Recently, an internet hoax spread that Banksy had been arrested and the identity revealed. The artist remains as mysterious as ever. Although popular around the globe, one place where Banksy has won a special place in the heart of many is Palestine. The artist took his/her trademark style to the Israeli separation barrier.
Palestine has long been a fascinating subject for photographers. And not just native Palestinians. From 19th century American missionaries eager to capture the Biblical Holy Lands to contemporary photojournalists seeking to put a human face on the ongoing tragedy, photographers the world over have traveled to Palestine. Below are some particularly key photographers in the history of photographing Palestine. Some are Palestinian, some are not, all have captured remarkable images.
Call it what you will –art or agitprop – no cause worth its name in the 20th century failed to produce political posters. Never confined to museums, such posters were plastered on walls and homes and often evoked a shared sense of (in justice, determination and destiny. And an effective poster packed a punch: using words and images widely understood among the audience, it could say so much with very little.
The Arab world is in the midst of a boom in contemporary art. New museums are rising in the region and many Arab artists have found international audiences. Palestinian artists, whether born in (occupied) Palestine or in the diaspora, have played an invaluable role. Below are 10 extraordinary artists with mesmerizing work that is inspired by the history and culture of Palestine, past and present, and the experiences of the Palestinians, as individuals and a people.
The brainchild of the late Palestinian cartoonist Naji al-Ali, Handala – with his tattered clothes and thorny hair – stands as a symbol for the Palestinian refugees expelled or forced to flee from their ancestral home by Zionist militias carving out the Jewish state of Israel between 1947-48. This defining moment in Palestinian history is known as the Nakba. (Read about the Nakba through the eyes of a Palestinian teenager and read about the Palestinians before their diaspora.)
The Palestinian city of Nablus in the Israeli occupied West Bank has long been a center of Palestinian culture and remains the largest Palestinian city between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Known in the Bible as Shechem, the Romans called it Neapolis and the 7th century Arab conquerors Arabicized it to Nablus. Ask a Nablusi what Nablus is famous for and you’ll likely hear two things: soap and Knafeh. The city’s olive oil soap is legendary, but the more than 30 soap factories in the 19th century have dwindled down to a tiny industry. As for Knafeh, the pasty remains both popular and a Nablusi trademark. While Knafeh is prepared throughout the Levant, it is Nablus that remains famous for it and the city even made it into the Guinness World Record with the largest Knafeh ever weighing in at 2,976 lbs.
There is no doubt that Palestinian hip hop was truly born alongside DAM. Bothers Tamar and Suhell Nafar and Mahmoud Jreri formed the group (meaning Da Arab MCs) back in 1999 and initially rapped in Hebrew at hip hop clubs in Tel Aviv. “48 Palestinians” living in what became Israel in 1948, the group recorded non-political raps until the Second Intifada (Uprising) against Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which included demonstrations by Palestinian citizens of Israel, inspired DAM to address the Palestinian condition under Israeli rule within Israel itself and the adjacent Occupied Territories.
Palestinian cinema is booming and being screened all over the world from film festivals in Cannes to Toronto to Venice and garnering the attention of Hollywood and Academy Award nominations. It is the Palestinian experience defined by exile, discrimination and occupation that serves as the inspiration for filmmakers. Below are 10 great films and documentaries on Palestine by Palestinians, Americans, and Israelis.
The latest assault and ground invasion of Gaza has provoked what many are calling a “media war” over fair coverage of the conflict. The infringements on journalists and the press, sometimes with deadly force, are listed chronologically below.