Why watermelons are a symbol of Palestinian solidarity

Watermelons have become a symbol of Palestinian solidarity, employed as a workaround to online censorship and to communicate support for the Palestinian cause.

The Conflict and the Symbol: Watermelons were adopted as a symbol of Palestinian solidarity due to their color matching the Palestinian flag.
* The fruit’s imagery is now being used in protests, on walls, and in online posts and profiles.
* This method of communication is employed as a response to documented reports of online censorship on platforms like Meta, notably when relating to the Israel-Hamas war.

The Online Censorship Conversation: Human Rights Watch published a 51-page study detailing how Instagram’s moderation policies have censored or suppressed peaceful content.
* Deborah Brown from HRW indicates that if social media censorship continues, it could impact the collective response to events in Gaza.
* Despite these allegations, Meta’s rep denies bias in censoring content from Palestinian supporters, suggesting that the polarized and intense conflict has led to increased content reporting.

Origins of the Watermelon as a Symbol: The connection between watermelon’s and the Palestinian flag came from an Israeli soldier during the times when public display of the Palestinian flag was banned in Israel.
* Renowned Palestinian artist Sliman Mansour recounts how an Israeli soldier forbade him to use the colors of the Palestinian flag in his works and mentioned that even if he painted a watermelon in those colors, it’d be confiscated.
* This incident encouraged artists to use watermelons as signs of resistance, making it more than just a symbol of solidarity but also artistic defiance.

Impact on Mansour and Other Artists: The gallery incident was a turning point in Mansour’s art, which originally focused more on depicting Palestinian culture and less on politics.
* Mansour’s story inspired many artists worldwide to integrate the watermelon symbol into their art as a sign of Palestinian resistance.
* The restriction imposed on him by the Israeli official led to his detention and later, a shift in his artwork towards more politically charged themes like watermelons as symbols of defiance.

Watermelons in Today’s Context: Amid social media and self-censorship, the watermelon symbol is gaining new significance as a form of identity and resistance.
* Tamara Taha, a Palestinian American activist, describes the use of the watermelon symbol as a modest act of defiance, transforming everyday injustices into a canvas for displaying resistance.
* Despite crackdowns on displays of Palestinian flags and symbols, Mansour believes Palestinian symbols like the watermelon will persist.
View original article on NPR
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