Palestine Is Not Alone - Barati

Analysis / Interpretation / Press

"Another cartoon shows armed fighters at al-Aqsa Mosque with shirts that say “freedom with blood” putting ballots in a box that says “Public referendum for all Palestinians: from the river to the Nile”. Likewise, a similar submission displays on it a long Khamenei quote that includes the phrase “from the River to the Nile” as well, and another uses a Khamenei quote condemning “the fake regime of Israel” and calling it a “dirty page in history which will be closed.”"



Curator's note:

This ADL article has mistranslated the Arabic text in this poster in several places. The ADL text says that the Arabic on the ballot box reads "from the river to the Nile (river)". This is incorrect. The correct translation is: "from the sea to the river" and refers to the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, which bracket the historical land mass of Palestine. While the Arabic text on the t-shirts could be translated superficially as "freedom with blood": a more accurate and contextualized translation is "liberty via sacrifice" making the point that the depicted fighters are willing to take up armed struggle.

The use of the term "blood" has been used across human history as a metaphor for revolution, resistance and struggle. For example, Nathan Hale's "Give me liberty or give me death" or the Jefferson quote (1787 letter to William Stephens Smith): "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."  Its use is not unique to the Palestinians.

The five Palestinians depicted are all martyrs and the sacrifice that is referenced on the t-shirts is that of their own lives, not that of Israelis. To be rigorously consistent in this analysis we must consider the possibility that these Palestinians died while engaged in confrontations with the IDF (as opposed to having been shot while walking to the market by an IDF sniper or killed in a case of mistaken identity, etc.) Yet even in that case there is still no reference in the poster to Israelis or Jewish people. The fact remains that they are saying - to other Palestinians, not Israelis - that the sacrifice of one's own life is the price a people pay for their liberty and they have paid willingly. There is no mention or reference to Israel, Israelis, Zionism, the IDF, Judaism, etc.

This poster is hagiographic and it imagines an exclusively intra-Palestinian dialogue which can be summed up: If you want a free and democratic Palestine where peaceful, representative elections decide the future instead of war we (Palestinians) must be prepared to fight, and die à la Nathan Hale, for that future.

It should be noted that in their diaspora Palestinians have been forced into armed combat with Syrian, Lebanese, Jordanian, Egyptian, Israeli and other national forces. The point is that they are consistent in that they refuse to be occupied, oppressed or controlled by any outside force. 

"Blood" in the context of this poster is a metaphor for self-sacrifice in pursuit of democracy (as referenced by the ballot box). The ADL interpretation promotes a self-serving translation of the Arabic that ignores its authentic narrative and reduces it to a simple example of incitement-to-violence against Israelis, which with regard to this poster at least, is counterfactual.