Declaration of the State of Palestine

Translation / Interpretation / Caption Text

Artist's Statement

January 26, 2013

In celebration, I made this poster shortly after the "original" declaration of the State of Palestine by Yasser Arafat on Nov. 15, 1988 and signed it with that date. The poster was printed from my painting in gouache and gold foil on paper.

In an ironic, affectionate sense it serves up all the symbolic cliches used by the Palestine revolution to define itself: the flag; an image of the PLO leader Yasser Arafat; the words "State of Palestine" in Arabic; the stone; the kaffiyeh (headscarf); the dove of peace holding the olive branch with the Arabic words "ya Allah" inscribed in it (this term translates colloquially as "let's go" and more literally, "Oh god!", as an intercession for help, an expression of wonder and also as a short prayer of praise.) Also featured are the steadfast eyes and the Dome of the Rock, itself a symbol of Arab Jerusalem. The hand upraised in the V sign for victory (another irony since the gesture was invented by Winston Churchill during WWII, the leader of the British empire that signed off Palestine to the Zionists.) The blood on the hand is a reference to the crucifixion of Christ, in Jerusalem.

I drew the white architectural lines of the Dome of the Rock using the Perspector, a mechanical instrument of my own invention and construction. In the background in violet shadows is the word "Al-Intifada" (Arabic: the uprising) writ large, and a pseudo-dictionary definition (which has since become a fact) of the new word now known around the world.

When the late Edward Said, a family friend, visited us in Tokyo and saw the poster he disliked it on sight, perhaps because of his well-known political objections to the unrewarded concessions the PLO made in the 1990's. Sadly, despite the 2012 UN vote to accept Palestine at the UN our struggle has yet to result in an actual independent Palestinian state free of Israeli settlements and military occupation.

Vladimir Tamari