Palestinian artist Khaled Jarrar, from the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, has been stamping people’s passports with a seal of a “State of Palestine” to send “a strong political message about our existence as human beings.”
He has invited people to have their passports stamped with the “State of Palestine” seal — his original design featuring a bird and floral motif — in both the occupied West Bank and in Germany.
In this video interview with the German magazine monopol, Jarrar says he chose the site of “Checkpoint Charlie” — the crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War which is now a tourist attraction where people pay for a souvenir stamp — because checkpoints still are a fact of life in occupied Palestine.
Jarrar explains that Palestinians “are the ones who have the right to welcome anybody to Palestine. And this is my slogan: ‘Welcome to Palestine’ to anybody.”
It is ambiguous whether Jarrar’s project is an endorsement of the two-state solution — though on the project’s Facebook page wall, someone asked Jarrar to comment on the one-state solution and the page administrator replied “I need one state for all so its Palestine for all.” It’s also unclear whether the project is a direct endorsement of the Palestinian Authority’s statehood bid at the UN, which has been criticized by many Palestinians as “insufficient, on its own, in bringing about a real end to Israel’s occupation and colonial rule,” as the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) has stated.
Jarrar’s project seems to be more in the spirit of the Welcome to Palestine project, a Palestinian-led initiative which encouraged hundreds of international supporters to fly to Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv en masse to challenge and highlight how Israel isolates the occupied West Bank by denying entry to people who say they are traveling or working there.
In any case, judging from a gallery of photos on the project’s Facebook page (my favorite one is above), people seem to be excited to have a “State of Palestine” stamp in their passport as a symbolic challenge to Israel’s denial of the Palestinians’ right to self-determination.
Jarrar has been following up with the people whose passports he has stamped and photographed to record their experience with their stamped passports at the Israeli-controlled borders, so the project is evolving and ongoing.