Watermelon Emoji, a Symbol of Netizen Support for Palestine

By | 23 July 2021 11:00:12 | 265 | 0
picture by: https://primetimezone.com
picture by: https://primetimezone.com

In recent weeks, the watermelon icon has resurfaced on social media. This fruit happens to match the color of the Palestinian flag with red, green, white, and black.

Some Palestinians say watermelon emojis are used to prevent and avoid online censorship and content moderation. The social media users who uploaded the emojis, images and artwork were Palestinians in Israel, the occupied territories, and the diaspora, along with their supporters.

They used watermelon emojis to reflect activism and disguise Palestinian solidarity online beyond conventional political and geographical boundaries.


"Art can sometimes be more political than politics itself," khaled Hourani, a Palestinian artist based in Ramallah, West Bank, was quoted as saying from New Zealand's Stuff page on Monday (19/7).


Works from Hourani have been displayed among images of watermelons circulating online. The symbolism of watermelon stretches back to the tactics of organizing Palestine before the first intifada, the period before the 1993 Oslo accords created the Palestinian Government and moved the peace process that no longer exists.

Now, watermelons have discovered a new resonance. Palestinian artists use this fruity image as a metaphor for the Palestinian flag and avoid a ban.


Online, that tradition persists. Palestinians do not believe in social media platforms and are overshadowed by Israeli surveillance.


Millions of social media posts mostly supporting Palestine have been arbitrarily deleted by Facebook and Twitter in recent months. The move has heightened the anger of Palestinians who have long felt that their freedom of speech online is too much to be eliminated.

In fact, Palestinian-related hashtags and accounts are also blocked or their content removed. Both Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms reject accusations that they deliberately moderate, censor, or ignore Palestinian or pro-Palestinian content. The company claims they only prohibit uploads that incite or glorify violence as part of enforcing the rules.


"We know there are some issues affecting sharing capabilities in our apps. We apologize to anyone who felt unable to draw attention to an important event or who felt this was a deliberate silence," Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said.

Mona Shtaya, local advocacy manager at Haifa-based 7amleh, the Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media, said Israeli authorities and social media companies were trying to silence Palestinians online. This includes sharing stories of Israel's transgressions.


To circumvent the situation, Palestinians find creative ways such as removing punctuation, changing letters in words, or mixing political statements with private photos. This is intended to address and play with algorithms to prevent posts from being deleted, censored, or flagged.


When writing martyrdom, for example, users in Arabic enter 'h";in lieu of appropriate Arabic letters to try to avoid artificial intelligence looking for uploads with the word. In another trend, users in English use the Palestinian spelling as 'P@lestine'.