Backlash over Khaled Jarrar’s Rainbow Flag Mural on West Bank Wall

The rainbow flag mural spurred a debate in Palestine Photo: the artist via hyper allergic
The rainbow flag mural spurred a debate in Palestine Photo: via Haaretz

The rainbow flag mural spurred a debate in Palestine
Photo: via Haaretz

The controversy over a rainbow mural painted on the separation wall in the West Bank by artist Khaled Jarrar still continues, days after the mural has been completely obliterated.

Only hours after Jarrar completed the mural on June 29 local youths started whitewashing the work. By evening it had already been covered, Israeli daily Ha’aretz reports.

But the backlash over the piece is still being felt. Palestine is a deeply conservative place, and the LGBTQ debate remains taboo.

By nightfall the mural was already whitewashed by angry locals Photo: Fadi Arouri via Facebook

By nightfall the mural was already whitewashed by angry locals
Photo: Fadi Arouri via Facebook

Jarrar has since been subjected to death threats, rape threats, and other abuse on social media.

“People don’t accept different thinking in our society,” he said, adding he drew the rainbow flag on the barrier to put a spotlight on Palestinian issues.

His mural was meant as a reminder that Palestinians live under Israeli occupation, at a time when gay rights are in the news after the U.S. allowed same-sex weddings. It “reflects the absence of tolerance, and freedoms in the Palestinian society,” he told the AP.

Khaled Jarrar Photo: Art Daily

Khaled Jarrar
Photo: Art Daily

However, Jarrar also rejects the way news sources “hijacked” his statement to focus on the lack of tolerance for LGBTQ rights in Palestine (and implying the contrast that exists on the other side of the wall). Commenting on the website Electric Intifada he wrote:

Everywhere, images of rainbows went viral and even the White House was lit up in rainbow colors. This got me thinking about all these international activists and ordinary citizens who were celebrating freedom for a group of people who have historically been oppressed, and the use of the rainbow as a symbol of freedom and equality and what it could represent for other oppressed groups. It also made me think of our daily struggles for equality, freedom and justice here in Palestine.

Jarrar is no stranger to controversy, having been denied an exit visa by Israel to attend his own opening and getting into trouble with police for using a handgun in a performance in Geneva.


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