Arabic translation: (text at top) Together we liberate..together we build. (text at bottom) Fellow voter: Your vote is loyalty.
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Two unidentified men stand next to one another. The man on the left carries a shovel while his neighbor carries a rifle; both are clad in long trousers and boots. Above them reads, “Together we liberate.” Below reads, “Together we build” (Fig. 1). The two men share an identical stance, both driving the tools into the rubble. The man yielding a shovel stands as a symbol for Lebanon’s post-civil war reconstruction; his ‘weapon’ digs violently into a pile of bricks. Similarly, the right-hand figure holds his weapon in a downward position, digging into a desolated Star of David. In the lower left-hand corner, one sees the unmistakable mark of Hezbollah. The slogan, then, has two partially juxtaposing meanings. While the poster’s designer asks his viewers to unite in Lebanon’s rebuilding efforts, he also emits a war cry. Conflict is not over; rather, Lebanon’s true test of peace, victory, and armistice comes with attentive patience.
Now comes the time where reconstruction is equally important to maintaining stability, through violence if necessary. However, above all else, one must note that the image of the gun, typically portrayed in an upright, anticipatory manner, is facing downward. Has it been tamed? Has the artist domesticated the weapon? Or is he predicting a future where, despite current renovation, conflict is inevitable and the weapon will be of necessity? Southern Lebanon was still in need of liberation, a substantial struggle still looming over Muslims in the late twentieth century. Such ambiguity comes into play when examining the majority of visual culture, particularly in an analysis of political posters in the Middle East.
Source: “Momentary Memorials” Political Posters of the Lebanese Civil War and Hezbollah, Megan Elizabeth Miller.