How did a Palestine poster become a symbol of resistance?

How a Palestine Tourism Poster, Designed by a Jewish Artist in the 1930s, Took On New Meaning

How a Palestine Tourism Poster, Designed by a Jewish Artist in the 1930s, Took On New Meaning

The Vault
Historical Treasures, Oddities, And Delights
Nov. 13 2015 10:17 AM

How a Palestine Tourism Poster, Designed by a Jewish Artist in the 1930s, Took On New Meaning

VisitPalestine
Franz Krausz, 1936; published by the Tourist Development Association of Palestine.

The Palestine Poster Project Archives (PPPA)

In 1936, an Austrian Jew named Franz Krausz created this stylized view of Jerusalem's Old City. Krausz, who fled Europe during Hitler’s rise, designed a variety of posters for Zionist groups encouraging Jewish immigration to the Holy Land. This one is particularly arresting:​ the ancient, low-slung city rendered in a warm-hued Mediterranean palette​, crowned by the Dome of the Rock​.

After the 1948 founding of Israel, ​most Israeli Jews quit referring to ​the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean as ​"Palestine​.​" The poster was more or less ​forgotten for decades. A​t the height of the Oslo peace process in the 1990s, however, ​a Tel Aviv graphic designer and activist named David Tartakover reprinted Krausz's image. It w​as “a gesture of hope” for coexistence, according to Dan Walsh, the founder and curator of the Palestine Poster Project Archives.

As Oslo soured and the second Intifada broke out, Palestinians began ​repurposing​ the poster​. The onetime Jewish recruiting pitch became an affirmation of Palestinian rights, hanging in coffee shops and government buildings all over East Jerusalem and the occupied territories. At times, the poster’s provenance led to confusion. “[M]any Palestinians and others have assumed or asserted that this poster could not have been made by a Zionist or Israeli both because it features the word ‘Palestine’ and the detailed image of the Dome of the Rock,” Walsh writes. “But both assumptions would be wrong.”

​The poster has remained a symbol of Palestinian resistance over the intervening years, its usage changing in accordance with events on the ground. In a 2009 reinterpretation by Ramallah-based artist Amer Shomali, the separation wall between East Jerusalem and the West Bank blots out the view of the Old City; last year, the collective ABCNT added Israeli fighter jets on a bombing run. With violence again on the rise, there are likely to ​be more versions of this iconic image, tweaked for the times.

Chris A. Smith is a writer and college journalism and international affairs instructor in San Francisco. Visit his website or find him on Twitter.