Culture & Society

How Palestinian Art Stands Against Israeli Occupation

As the Israeli occupation is also cultural and intellectual, Palestinian art is also a tool to document the history and lives of the Palestinians under occupation and their historical entitlement to their land, writes Amjed al-Siyabi.


Artwork: Amjed al-Siyabi (Watercolor in paper. Original size: 61 cm X 46 cm - 24 inch X 18 inch.)

All occupations are not just military occupations. Occupation is also cultural, intellectual, and psychological. The military occupation is of course the most obvious. The Israeli occupation has always tried to eradicate our culture, which is a method of ethnic cleansing. 

Art is one of the pillars of human culture. It is our way of expressing ourselves and communicating with people. Art has walked alongside history even before the human race learnt to read. The humans chronicled life with inscriptions in caves. Art is so inherent to humans. Therefore, the Palestinian artists and the art in Palestine also tell the story of the land and its relation with the original people with historical entitlement or what life looks like under occupation. 


My artworks are a documentary of Palestinian cities like Nablus, one of the biggest cities of Palestine. They call it ‘The Den of Scientists’ for being a scientific and literary centre. Ibrahim Tuqan, one of the poets born in Nablus, wrote the Palestinian national anthem ‘Mawtini (My Home)’. The city is also called ‘The Queen of Palestine’, ‘The Small Damascus’, and the ‘Fire Mountain’ for resistance against the occupation. It is famous for its delicious kunafa dessert and factories of olive oil soap. 

My art has also documented the horrors of Israeli occupation, such as the portrait of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed by Israel in cold blood while she was wearing her press vest and helmet. 


Art is not only for historical documentation. It is a very important thing in society because it works to satisfy our sense of beauty and wonder about the world. It provides a window for creative expression, feeling, and resistance, which is very important in keeping the faith and hope for liberation. Through my artworks, I try to show hope by attaching Palestine with future vision and freedom. 

Art has a very powerful emotion. Vincent Van Gogh once said, “I love poetry, but I notice the difference between eloquence and frankness in the word. The word in the text says, while the colour in the painting indicates.” Through my artworks, I try to indicate the most eloquent feelings of human emotion expressing the moment feeling of the suffering of Palestinians. 

My political artworks aim to analyse the real situation that Palestinians are experiencing, including problems and crises, in a way that explores how to reach solutions. It is also a means of expressing and preserving the Arab-Islamic identity in all its cultural, social, and ideological dimensions and confronting the influence of the opposing Western visual tide. 

The saying that art is the mirror of the people sums up the importance of art in human civilization. My art shows the Palestinian vision of the world.