Who Will Utter the Mighty Acts of Israel?

Translation / Interpretation / Caption Text

Photo by: David Seymour

Artist-supplied text printed on back of poster: "Poster published after the massacre in the Sabra-Shatila refugee camps, September, 1982"

"During the controversial 1982 war in Lebanon, they pasted posters in the streets and distributed them at demonstrations and on university campuses as a way to comment on and investigate the larger effects of the reality that ―war [had become] the central common and private experience of the "Israeli man."

Rather than supporting the decisions of the IDF as necessary to State security, Tartakover and Molcho created posters in response to the First Lebanon War that emphasized the destruction, death and devastation the war caused for both sides. Through the juxtaposition of text and image, designers questioned the motivation and success of the military campaign given the high price that everyone involved seemed to be paying. In "Who Will Utter the Mighty Acts of Israel", produced after the massacres at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, Tartakover overlaid lyrics from a popular Jewish song about the heroic acts of the re-consecration of the Temple in the story of Hanukkah on top of an image of a woman in despair. The use of lyrics from a popular hymn about the Macabees, heroic Jews, subverted the original meaning and placed it in a new context that raised questions about the merits of fighting.

Tartakover questioned the Zionist ideology in which military strength and patriotism had become inseparable. The nationality of the woman remained unknown and called to light the reality that both the Israelis and Lebanese were suffering from the "mighty acts" of the IDF. The ambiguity of the image allowed Tartakover to explore the idea that meaning and values are neither fixed nor natural. The timing of the poster, produced just before the IDF entered its second year of the Lebanon War and as the Israeli government declared the upcoming year the "Year of Heroism", accentuated Tartakover‘s subtle attack on the Zionist mythos being promoted by the Israeli government."

"Peace, Politics and PostZionism: Contemporary Left-Wing Graphic Design in Israel" - Graduate thesis by Bareket Kezwer - 2011