Khaled Jarrar is stamping the passports of tourists arriving at the West Bank with a voluntary entry stamp for Palestine. This isn’t official practice or policy, though. The Palestinian artist is mounting his own form of political protest through a conceptual work of art, seen in a video by NTD TV.
Palestinians don’t have the right to set their own border entrance policies and lack any kind of recognized statehood. Jarrar’s piece functions as a critique of the area’s conflicted politics and lack of self-governance. Considering the political heft of an Israeli passport stamp and the exclusionist border policies that keep holders of Lebanese and other stamps out of the country, Jarrar’s stamp is a loaded symbol.
“I believe in art that makes a difference, that talks change,” the artist says, “And the art that I am making, is making a political statement.” Jarrar “hopes his stamp will remind people that [Palestine] is a nation waiting to be born,” writes Lourdes Garcia-Navarro for NPR station WGBH. The stamp depicts a hummingbird next to a flowering branch and is emblazoned with “State of Palestine.”
Jarrar’s project comes in advance of an initiative for Palestinian statehood; Palestinians now say they will take their drive for statehood to the United Nations this September. In the meantime, Jarrar’s stamp functions as part of the state as it could be, representing the possibilities of self-governance and the potential for stable infrastructure. Tourists and Palestinians alike seem to be supportive, though NTD notes a New Zealander who refused the stamp citing possible visa issues.
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