It Is Noble to Die For Our Country
The caption of this poster quotes the last words of the early Zionist military hero, Yosef Trumpeldor (1880-1920): “Never mind; it is noble to die for our country.”
Berliner has adopted a political dissent technique used by a growing number of contemporary Israeli poster artists: rendering it entirely in the colors of the Palestinian national movement — black, white, red and green. The Palestinian national flag was outlawed in the Occupied Territories via Israel’s infamous Military Order 101. By creating posters that flout that regulation Israeli artists not only highlight Israel’s surreal occupation policies they also manifest cultural and political solidarity with the indigenous Palestinians.
The fusion of Trumpledor’s quote and the Palestinian national colors implies that Palestinians can be just as noble as Trumpeldor and just as willing to sacrifice themselves for their country.
By focusing on Trumpeldor’s spirit of sacrifice Berliner, a graduate of Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, calls attention to the fact that the early Zionist movement attracted many phenomenally talented, experienced, and dedicated soldiers from armies around the world. As a result, the Jewish Legion (the precursor of the Israeli Defense Forces, IDF) enjoyed a marked psychological and logistical advantage over the Arab armies it faced off against in 1948 and later.
Born in Russia, Trumpeldor was mortally wounded while defending Tel Hai, a Jewish settlement in the Galilee. Considered a model of Israeli martial courage and selflessness, Trumpeldor’s life has been celebrated in Israeli song, poetry, film, books, and articles.
Trumpeldor was the son of a career soldier in the Russian army. He was a highly decorated veteran of the Russo-Japanese War (1902-1906) who went on to serve in the “Zion Mule Team” that fought heroically alongside British troops in World War I, including the debacle at Gallipoli. He epitomized the pioneer fervor of Zionism. Here is his personal definition of a chalutz (Hebrew: pioneer):
The military has always been at the center of the modern Israeli sense of identity: strong, selfless, and heroic. With this poster, Berliner is not ridiculing this national myth or exposing it as false; rather, he is showing that militant Zionism’s indifference to the humanity of the Palestinians is a historic shortcoming which, by itself, explains Israel’s tragic isolation.© 2003 Liberation Graphics. All Rights Reserved.
Questions for A New
1) Under what conditions and in what contexts is it “noble to die for one’s country”?
2) Do the Palestinians have a military hero along the lines of Trumpeldor?
3) Do Palestinians serve in the armed forces of other Arab countries?
4) Why did the Israelis outlaw, via Military Order 101, (1967) the public display of the Palestinian national colors in the Occupied Territories? What did they think that the suppression of these colors would accomplish? Was Military Order 101 a success?
Please send us your questions and comments (English only please!)
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