Watermelon become a symbol of the Palestine cause
- In the many posts showing support for Palestine on social media, a popular symbol is the watermelon.
- Pictures and emojis of the sliced fruit, as well as artwork featuring it, are often used to express solidarity with the people of Palestine.
Why a watermelon?
- A watermelon when sliced shows the colours of the Palestinian flag — red, green, black, and white.
- As carrying and displaying the Palestinian flag has often been barred by Israeli authorities, a watermelon is used to symbolise it instead.
- On social media, many claim that posts with overt Palestinian symbols are restricted by the US-headquartered bigger platforms, and hence, the sliced watermelon comes in useful here too.
- The watermelon is also widely cultivated in Palestine, from the West Bank to Gaza, and features prominently in Palestinian cuisine.
Its use in protests:
- Palestine has been on the boil the whole of this year, much before the Hamas attack that triggered the bloodbath in Gaza by Israel.
- In January, Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir claimed he had instructed the police to tear down any Palestinian flags flown publicly, after a terror convict waved the flag after his release from prison.
- Flowing the Palestinian flag is not legally banned in Israel, but the police often crack down, claiming the flag could “disturb peace”.
- As the arrests continued, in June, an organisation called Zazim began adding images of sliced watermelons on taxis playing in Tel Aviv, with the accompanying text reading “This is not a Palestinian flag”.
- Another prominent example is the work of Palestinian artist Khaled Hourani, who in 2007 painted a slice of watermelon for the Subjective Atlas of Palestine project.
- His work received wide viewership, and served to associate the watermelon with the Palestinian cause strongly.
Origins of usage in protests:
- What is less clear, however, is how the watermelon first came to be used in protests.
- While many Western media organisations have reported that it was a prominent symbol of resistance during the First Intifada (1987-1993), Arab news websites and blogs have contradicted this.
- After the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, Israel occupied West Bank and Gaza, and criminalised public displays of the Palestinian flag.
- Thus, it is plausible that sliced watermelons were used during the First Intifada, which was against the occupation.