Building Israel Through Posters

Dan Walsh’s incredibly rich Palestine Poster Project Archives includes much in the way of protest, but it also contains a trove of rare Zionist/Israeli posters from the 1920s through the ’50s, largely before partition. The ones excerpted here are from the Mahmoud Darwish Memorial Gallery, which includes a collection of Zionist Worker agency posters calling for increased development of Palestine.

The affairs of the workers of Eretz Israel should be in the hands of the workers of Eretz Israel, 1935.

To experience the role of posters in the birth, growing pains, and ultimate conflict, this is perhaps the best online resource. Here’s what Walsh collects: 1) international artists and agencies; 2) Zionist and Israeli artists and agencies; 3) Palestinian nationalist artists and agencies; 4) Arab and Muslim artists and agencies. And here is what he says about his collection of over 6700 posters:

I first began collecting Palestine posters when I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco in the mid-1970s. By 1980 I had acquired about 300 Palestine posters. A small grant awarded with the support of the late Dr. Edward Said allowed me to organize them into an educational slideshow to further the “third goal” of the Peace Corps: to promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans. Over the ensuing years, while running my design company, Liberation Graphics, the number of internationally published Palestine posters I acquired steadily grew. Today the archives include some 3,000 Palestine posters from myriad sources making it what many library science specialists say is the largest such archives in the world.

To fortify our home - use Hebrew cement, 1937.

Come and See the Palestine Exhibition - Vienna, 1925.

Text in logo in upper left hand corner - The Worker, 1937.

Build Industries In Palestine!, 1927

4 thoughts on “Building Israel Through Posters

  1. Asya

    The Israeli professor’s response is correct. The Hebrew text in the last poster reads “Land of Israel a place to build industries”, while the English reads “Build industries in Palestine”. Palestine and Eretz Israel (“Land of Israel” in Hebrew) were then synonymous.
    I’m not sure if the poster really has much to do with Zionism… I feel it is more about developing the land and creating an industry in that part of the world… Much like Soviet posters called for people to help out in the Kolhoz, or Canada’s immigration posters in the late 1800s and early 1900s tried to get people to farm the land in the west. It is likely thanks to these posters that what once was mostly a desert is now a highly developed country not just compared to the surrounding countries, but by Western standards.
    As for the posters themselves, I think they are great. I especially love the almost cubist style in the last one. It may seem somehwat unattractive today when factories became symbols of greenhouse gases , however in 1927 that huge factory must have appeared almost like a huge fort or castle in the middle of an arid land which reperesented development, economy, and the way of the future.

  2. Gary W. Gorman

    I sent your story to a friend, that I often share your ‘stories’, too.
    This time he:
    “sent the article on to an Israeli professor he knows.  Here is his response.
    I think that an historical error was committed by Heller in understanding these posters.  Before the creation of Isreal in 1948, there was no separate, Arab entity called Palestine.  The whole area west of the Jordan River was labeled Palestine by the then rulers British, after the Biblical name of this area.  The Jews called it in Hebrew “Eretz Israel” (the ‘Land of Israel’), and Palestine when using English.  This is reflected in the posters below predating the state.  Hence, the last poster (1927) refers to the building industry in the ‘land of Israel’, and not to Palestine in its present meaning.  Only after Israel’s independence the non-Jewish areas were singularly called Palestine.  Before that, both Arabs and Jews living there were referred to as Palestinians.

  3. Nadine

    On my first trip to israel in 1999, I bought a reprint of a Franz Krausz poster from 1936.  It simply says Visit Palestine with an amazing graphic of the old city.  It was the most perfect keepsake from my trip.  I’d love to see the Palestine Poster Archives Project.  It would be very inspiring.