Resilience in red and green: Styling watermelon as a symbol of Palestinian resistance

Farah Samir, Tuesday 19 Dec 2023

With the Israeli war on Gaza, which began on 7 October, watermelon has regained prominence on social media, demonstrations, and manifestations of art and style, emerging as a symbol of Palestinian resistance.

Palestine in works of The Velvet Box.


For decades, the watermelon has held a symbolic place in Palestinian iconography, notably mirroring the colors of the national flag when cut open—red, white, black, and green—serving as a substitute when the flag was prohibited following the 1967 War.

Following the flag's criminalization, Palestinians embraced the watermelon's resemblance to show national pride, leading to arrests for possessing watermelon slices in the 1990s due to its colors mirroring the prohibited flag.

This led artist Khaled Hourani to transform watermelon into an art project in 2007, creating the watermelon flag and cementing its status as a symbol of Palestinian resistance.

This marked the evolution of the watermelon into a symbol of Palestinian resistance that endures today.

Additionally, brands are showing solidarity with Palestine through the launch of watermelon-themed collections, where the proceeds go towards supporting donations for the cause.

The Velvet Box, a local jewelry brand owned by Omar Zanaty and Noura Hossam, created a new watermelon collection, dedicating all proceeds from a three-day sale of their watermelon collection to aid Palestine through the Red Crescent and the Egyptian Food Bank.

"Discovering the meaning behind the watermelon, when the Palestinian flag was banned, people used this creative symbol as an act of resistance. It mirrors the current situation, where Palestinian content is being shadow-banned. That's why we chose the watermelon — it represents resistance during these times of widespread censorship surrounding Palestine," Zanaty and Noura told Ahram Online.

“Our recently launched watermelon necklace and ring received significantly more engagement from our customers than usual,” they explained.

This shows that many are embracing the watermelon as a symbol of resistance while also using it to contribute to donations for Palestine.

Various other brands are joining in solidarity with Palestine by releasing their watermelon-themed collections. These collections include items like t-shirts, pins, caps, and bags, with their sales proceeds aimed at providing medical aid and humanitarian assistance for Palestine.

Beyond merchandise, the symbolic watermelon persists across digital platforms realm as a response to Meta's shadow-banning of pro-Palestinian content.

Therefore, numerous artists have expressed solidarity with Palestine through the sharing of watermelon-themed artwork.

Furthermore, a trending TikTok watermelon filter has surfaced, enabling users to raise funds in support of civilians in Gaza. The filter is gaining widespread popularity among TikTok users, with millions of content creators posting with it.

Women are also participating and posting about the watermelon blush trend as a way to express solidarity with Palestine.

Amid social media censorship challenges, the Watermelon Movement Instagram account shares updates on the ongoing war in Gaza, cleverly adopting its name to navigate potential content restrictions.

The watermelon symbol is not limited to social media; it has also found its way onto buildings and streets.

Moreover, during certain demonstrations, they distributed watermelons, framing the act of eating watermelon as a political statement. 

Watermelon can now be seen at rallies across the world, serving as a symbol of resistance against the Israeli occupation.



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