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Jerusalem Is Ours, Victory is Ours
Artist: Burhan Karkoutly (Palestine)
Dimensions: 27.5” x 19.5”
Publisher: The Palestinian National Commission on the Celebration of the 1500th Anniversary of the Beginning of the Hejira
Circa 1977

This poster is a rare, full-color image of a poster by the Palestinian artist Burhan Karkoutly, whose works are usually printed in black and white.

The graphic is a fanciful illustration that would appeal to the child in any viewer. It depicts Jerusalem and features the Dome of the Rock mosque in the lower left-hand corner and a bright yellow sun rising in the background. Two lines of Arabic text — “Jerusalem is ours, Victory is ours” — are emblazoned on the face of the sun.

Karkoutly’s graphic style quotes the rich, filigreed needlework of traditional Palestinian women’s tatreez (Arabic: embroidery). Full of delightful visual details such as a peacock, palm trees, exuberantly fantastic flowers, and ornate window screens, this poster also contains a subtle religious and political statement. While there are many mosques shown, each with an Islamic crescent atop, as well as several Christian churches whose spires feature crosses, there is no synagogue representing a Jewish presence.


Relative to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which is about symbols as much as it is about realities, the exclusion of the other’s symbols from one’s own artistic narrative is not a simple oversight (See, for example, Unitary, Democratic, Non-Sectarian Palestine, which deliberately incorporates symbols of all three religions). Rather, it is a willful and deliberate continuation of the Palestinians’ struggle to be seen in their own right, not merely as a reflection of the other. However quixotic it may seem to outsiders, Karkoutly has created a virtual Jerusalem, an oasis in which Palestinians can feel their own unabused cultural and historical uniqueness without reference to their antagonists.

All Palestinians are aware, despite any public statements made in anger to the contrary, of the timeless relationship between the Jewish people and Jerusalem. With this poster, Karkoutly is not ignoring Jewish history; rather, he is saying that despite decades of occupation and exile, in some corners of their collective consciousness Palestinians have succeeded in celebrating or, indeed inventing, their own cherished childhood memories.


It is, in a sense, a Palestinian reflection of Khalil Gibran’s poem, Children:

...For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams...

Source: The Prophet, 1923

Jerusalem Is Ours represents sacred Palestinian geography, not in mere temporal terms but as a more mystical, psychological, and soulful landscape. Critics may say that the slogan “Jerusalem is ours, Victory is ours” is open code for an Arab or Islamic military reconquest of the city. Another way to read Karkoutly’s work is to consider that real victory lies not with those who merely control Jerusalem but rather with those who revere it most.

To the average American, for whom the idea of home is a mobile and transient concept, the Palestinian sense of identity with Jerusalem — and by extension Palestine — is practically unfathomable. The idea that this poster could represent anything more than a whimsical illustration for children comes as a shock to many Americans.

© 2003 Liberation Graphics. All Rights Reserved.

Questions for A New
Democratic Discussion

1) What other kinds of victory are there besides military?

2) The Star of David has been promoted by the Israel solidarity movement as a fused symbol for both Judaism and Zionism. What are the ramifications when two concepts are represented by a single symbol? What other symbols are available to artists wishing to depict either Israel or Zionism?

3) What tensions surround the use in art of the Palestinian national flag or colors?


Please send us your questions and comments (English only please!)