Saturday, December 27, 2008

Joe Sacco

Great Christmas present!  My son gave me a copy of Joe Sacco's comic book/graphic novel, "Palestine", published by Jonathan Cape in 2003.  Not normally a fan of the comic book and manga genre, I was entranced by Sacco's vivid account of his experiences in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza in late 1991 and early 1992 - the time of the first intifada.  As Edward Said wrote in his glowing introduction: "With the exception of one or two novelists and poets, no one has ever rendered this terrible state of affairs better than Joe Sacco".

Terrible state of affairs indeed.  In the 25 years since Sacco visited the region the situation has not changed for the better for the Palestinians: the Israelis have left Gaza but have turned it into a huge concentration camp, starving its population into submission; in the West Bank the resistance has been imprisoned and disarmed while the American-trained forces of the Palestinian Authority do Israel's police work; Jewish colonist settlements increase and flourish while politicians worldwide ("the scum floats to the top") turn their backs.

Two things that have not changed are the indomitable will of the ordinary Palestinians to resist this genocide and a growing core of decent people, in the West and within Israel, willing to speak up on behalf of Palestinian human rights.

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