Knocked The Wall!

By: Nida Younis

Artwork by Riyadh Neama- An Iraqi Artist

Artwork by Riyadh Neama- An Iraqi Artist

Many Things Can Make Walls Different

Graffiti: A Demo for Life

Under the Israeli Occupation, Walls and graffiti suggest a contrast between beauty and ugliness. They story-tell how the life of the Palestinians has been hooked in between dichotomies, paradoxical impositions, iconicity, and murals.


It is a projection of stories that Palestinians live under the Israeli Occupation; a life that has been symbolically and physically walled off. Graffiti has been a mural for collective memory; a way to voice out different injustices. This would make the Walls for Palestine a different story.

  A Love Story

The handsome Palestinian young man, Raed Jaradat, from Hebron, decided to revenge the Israeli Occupation soldiers killing of his hometown school student Dania Irsheid by drawing. Raed graffitists Dania’s unspoken love words and imaginary messages she could send to him; a lover in between a bullet and a wall. On Walls, he visualizes the deepest sentiments of love and aspirations.

Graffiti itches the paradox of love and occupation conjuring in the same place, where human lives are in control. Palestinians routinely lose lives, dreams, love stories, and dignity when a soldier decides. Love is inherited; still, in Palestine, where bullets speak for humanity, graffiti voices out losses high on murals It mummifies lovers' stories and legends of suffering. After all, it is a demo of life.  


A Graffiti VS War

In Sheikh Jarrah, Palestinians choose to face the skunk trucks and putrid water by drawing on Walls, the Gazans chose to draw on death and destroyed walls. Despite Casualties and losses, Palestinians have their unique ways to fight

Made with Visme

On the destroyed walls, Palestinians would draw.

PALESTINIAN GRAFFITI TRACKED

Surprisingly, Walls and graffiti have always gone in parallel all along with the history of Palestine. Walls have always been in between; colors have been a quest all the time. This happened even when the Palestinians lost their homeland.

Tracking graffiti not only shows that “The phenomenon of Palestinian graffiti" takes place primarily in the West Bank refugee camps but also in Palestinian refugee camps located in the Arab world, in the Palestinians Diaspora, in The Occupied Jerusalem, and the rest of the Palestinian governorates where the Israeli Occupation voice is still very loud.

Refugee camps were established in 1948 after the Nakba, the exodus of the Palestinian population during the Israeli War to conquer Palestine. The Palestinian refugee camps are characterized by high population and memory density. The absence of free space and the population density of refugee camps make it impossible to provide a formal space that would then institutionally be defined as public”. The Palestinians carried graffiti everywhere. Recently, the Israeli war extended not only to write anti-Palestinian graffiti on walls and mosques but also a war of erasure against Palestinian graffiti is launched. Pls, click the link below Palestinian Graffiti Track Map OR review maps directly.



Palestine Unskinned

A Colonial Lens: Somebody knocked on the door

Palestine was projected under the lens of a colonial project; the door was knocked. Nations from around the world were internalized in the Palestinian space and time. It seemed "fleetingly but it deepened and endures.

Little by little, the land was given a new face. The Israeli occupation skinned the Indigenous Palestinians; owners of the land. A different color is imposed: the colonial; a colonial practice is wielded: to replace.

More than "700,000 Palestinians – about half of prewar Palestine's Arab population – fled or were expelled from their homes, during the 1948 Palestine war". The exodus was a "central component of the fracturing, dispossession, and displacement of Palestinian society, known as the Nakba" in which between "400 and 600 Palestinian villages were destroyed and Palestinian history erased". This refers to the "wider period of war itself and the subsequent oppression up to the present day"

As for the "Occupied Palestine and refugee camps in neighboring countries are rich in various and colorful graffiti expressions ranging from drawings of the pre-1948 map of Palestine to political party logos to the calligraphy of religious texts and poetry. Rich in form, ranging from murals to stencils to calligraphy, as well as the free hand-written slogans, Palestinian resistance aesthetics influenced the neighboring rural towns in the Levant", the Cyberspace is noticeably poor. Palestinians who show no interest in search engines show the least interest possible.

This Changes Even More!

Graffiti Vs Skunk Trucks

The story of Graffiti and Walls did not start at Sheikh Jarrah!

In authoritarian regimes where a regular citizens’ voice has little opportunity to be heard, graffiti and street art can be used as a political tool to rally the masses. Graffiti offers an alternative form of political participation. In a society where it can be gravely dangerous to voice opposition to the ruling regime, A Battle For Jerusalem


A Battle For Jerusalem

Not only were the 28 Palestinian refugee families forcefully evicted from their homes in Yafa and Haifa in 1948, during the Nakba and housed in Sheikh Jarrah in 1956 with support from the Jordanian government and UNRWA, but they have also banned the right to visually voice opposition to a new phase of ethnic cleansing. "Discriminatory policies in Jerusalem, including planned displacement, are constant"

Dispossession and forceful eviction

That is 27 Palestinian families refugees who were uprooted from their homes during the 1948 Nakba are set to be forcibly displaced to make way for Israeli settlers in Occupied East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah.

Not a property dispute!

It is part of the "demographic balance” policy. Israeli has focused on keeping a 70:30 Palestinian/ Israeli ratio since the illegal occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967 – later adjusted to a 60:40 ratio, policy reported not attainable”

Not home eviction, but a city!

Since 1967, an estimated 14,500 Palestinian citizens have been stripped of their residency status in Occupied Jerusalem.

Graffiti VS “skunk trucks”

Sprayed with putrid water at high pressure, Sheikh Jarrah's Palestinian Youth chose to draw on walls. Graffiti was as all Palestinian protest forms were also fought and effaced.


Graffiti Revolution

Recalling back the repressive Taliban regime, young Afghanis insisted on drawing on the Walls of the Afghani capital i.e. Kabul which was for them a military prison. They sought to disarm the regime through a graffiti revolution. Within a short time, the task was not only the “masters of Art” work, Kabul’s new regime participated in the change and began tearing down Walls. The decision can after years of public demands; people were tired of the memories of war spreading everywhere.

Discriminatory policies in Jerusalem, including planned displacement, are constant". Eventually, it is a long-time Israeli tradition and endures. Things Started Long Before!

Nostalgia to a homeland

I draw fish because it reminds me of the state of displacement that never ends. It reminds me of the refugees jostling to collect their quarterly UNRWA ration of different staff including Tuna. The refugee is like a fish taken out of water and forever has a nostalgia to return home.
Alaa Al Baba - The Fish Path Project

Peeling (off)
the Wall

Dim Pal. Graffiti Presence at Cyberspace

Palestinian graffiti found itself no considerable place in the virtual space. Cultivation of cyberspace reveals a dim presence. in Palestine, Interest in looking for graffiti-related words for the last 12 months in both languages (A&E) reveals an average of 2% searches in comparison to 64% searches for games, google trends reveal.

contrary to the plethora of graffiti on the walls of the Palestinian cities, refugee camps, and the Segregation Wall, the visual presence of the Palestinian graffiti on the most popular search engine i.e. Google is fairly dim. Data scratched (by Python) for Graffiti Palestine/ Gaza in both languages, interalia other sites, reveals ……

Palestinian Graffiti is not only effaced, nor are forbidden to be drawn on the walls, the Palestinian graffiti visual content on search engines and SN's is restricted compared to the extent of its spread on the ground. "# to search query" reveals that Graffiti Palestine was mentioned (99) time, Graffiti Gaza (98), Palestinian Graffiti (99) were mentioned approximately the same. this applies literally to times for جرافيتي فلســـــطين and جرافـــــــــــــــــيتي غزة.

On Facebook, (4) pages claim a Palestinian graffiti identity. However, one site published (1) video; another site published (4) albums containing (4) photos, for all albums. Gaza Graffiti page published (240) photos since 2015 with a total number of (168) posts. Reactions for all the posts varied. A total number of (190) likes, (846) shares, (317) love, (25) wow, (1) haha, (6) sad, and (2) angry faces were scraped ( by Python). The mean of these reactions varied accordingly. Ads library shows that no graffiti-based ads were sponsored in Facebook to promote graffiti-based content the Palestinian graffiti based content

On the search engines, Palestinian graffiti storytelling spreads under the name "Israel's graffiti". The story of obliteration and replacement does not begin with a delicious Palestinian, Yemeni, or even Moroccan dish that the occupation claims; or a traditional embroidery costume that the occupation turned into a disputed space. Nothing is protected from erasure.

Palestine spaces and counter-spaces of resistance on murals!

Contrary to their presence on cyberspaces, Graffiti have long brought Palestine spaces and counter-spaces of resistance to Murals; none the least, the walls of the Refugee camps and the Israeli Segregation Wall. On the ground, The Palestinian graffiti forra over different manifestations "from small signs or signatures to political drawings".

First Intifada activists found in the walls a means of media and communication. The walls were the mural newspaper of the revolution stone billboard.  Calls for strikes, political statements, and the fall of the martyrs. graffiti enriched the Palestinian visual space, as "the history of the ancient use of walls as an alternative means of writing all kinds of messages is as old as the Palestinian struggle. It flourished at a time when all media was under control; where the “national institutions such as state media or state education” were totally absent.

Palestinians and international activists tactically use "space and networks surrounding the apartheid wall to reach transnational communities. While there are instances of Palestinian voices being amplified in transnational space".

"Zionist colonization, even the most restricted, must either be terminated or carried out in defiance of the will of the native population. This colonization can, therefore, continue and develop only under the protection of a force independent of the local population – an iron wall which the native population cannot break through."
Vladomir Jabotinsky, The Iron Wall (1923)

The 85% of the 670 km long Israeli Segregation Wall snakes into the West Bank lands.

Ranging from 4.5 and 9 meters, the wall suffocates Palestinian populated localities. More than 5,000 Palestinians are isolated in “closed” areas. The Israeli occupation authorities established a network of gates in the wall and systems of traffic permits to allow people to move

As for Bethlehem, the Israeli Segregation wall has become a visual museum; a voice out against the Israeli Occupation and the American bias. Stories from around the world; activists from around the globe have been expressing their political attitudes high.

In Ramallah, graffiti is eroding silently, Hanna Arendt did not walk in the streets of Ramallah, there are no trials for the sons of "higher gods", no trials for the banality of evil.


seguimos en pie

A phrase written on the wall of an old house in Old Town Ramallah, in Latin, reads: "seguimos en pie. The phrase was translated into Arabic "Samidon", "stead-fasting"; it was a surprise. Asem Nasser continues: In the place, there are many old walls, with many phrases written on them. We translated phrases into Arabic, and laughed: graffiti reads as “Aziz loves Rasha,” and, another reads “Hitler”, still, incorrectly spelled.

Seguimos en pie was drawn by Joseph, a tall, blond and very cheerful Argentinean young man. He used to work with the Jerusalem Caratas Association to restore old houses in Old Town Ramallah three years ago. He wrote this phrase when he finished the old house rehabilitation. He wrote it to say "goodbye", he said goodbye in his own way, he told Palestine "Stead fasting", in his own language, Asem Naser adds; a short but very moving story; bearing many dimensions, we were all surprised by these simple details, just as simple as the phrase and the wall that the municipality keeps away from demolition. This Wall shall remain untorn holding that word.

Asem Naser- Photo, Down Town Ramallah, Palestine

Asem Naser- Photo, Down Town Ramallah, Palestine


Many Palestinian graffitists refuse to write on the Israeli Segregation Wall; considering compliance to the temptation of drawing on such surface with a load of political racist implication a reconciliation".

The same thing applies to The Berlin Wall, it was not a masterpiece, it was ugly, and every graffiti on it .. was... It was a scar from society, from time, a place of wound
Hamza Abu Ayyash - a Palestinian Graffitist

Inventing colors


Beauty Vs Ugliness

Under the Israeli Occupation, Walls and graffiti suggest a contrast between beauty and ugliness. They story-tell how the life of the Palestinians has been hooked in between dichotomies, paradoxical impositions, iconicity, and murals. Throughout history, they have been trying to grasp beauty although they were walled off by tents, uprooting, diaspora, refugee camps, bitter choices, wars the Segregation Wall; and were literally abandoned and excluded out of their space and time. They have been suffocating for 73 years now. What have they done to face ugliness and the stealth of their land? Drawing! They kept on drawing everywhere even on the Israeli Segregation Wall. Graffiti escorted Palestinians in hard-rock miles of diaspora and talk. It tells their way of fight: their depression, anger, love, and cling to life.

Paradoxically saying, Palestine is reskinned: a color and life. Voices of the Palestinians are visualized and made a pass through history and time. This is not meant at making the aesthetics of the moment but to point to the ugliness; a must be peeled off and removed. A contrast that would live until the Walls fall. Let the Walls fall.



Let the Wall Fall!

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 جدار الفصل العنصري 4/6/2021

الجرافيتي والفن 8/3/2020



Created by: Nida Younis



Presented to "We Are Stories" project
Supervised by Dr. Nader Salha
Media Department | Al-Quds University | Spring 2021