Ismail Shammout (1930-2006) was a giant name among the Palestinian painters and probably the most prominent figure. With his exceptional talent he was able to portray the 1948 Palestinians uprooting and to record a revealing visual history following their exodus. As a result his name owned the undisputable right to be associated with the Palestinian cause and to be recognized as the most influential.
In those troubled days of 1948, Ismail was only eighteen when Israeli soldiers broke into their house in Lydda (Lod) and forced them to leave. Like hundreds of thousands they had to put up with the hardships of living in refugee camps. But Ismail’s soul was indestructible despite the injustice and destitution. His will power and ambitious spirit eventually lead him to study painting in Cairo and from there to Rome which he always dreamed of while walking through the bleak and barren alleys of Khan-Younes refugee camp.
Are we talking here about Ismail or about all the Palestinians who were the subject of extreme injustice by people who themselves were the victims of the same oppression and persecution?
Ismail in the story is then not just a protagonist; he is a metaphor for a whole nation who is trapped in a country that has become a minefield.