So this week I was finally able to borrow Guy Delisle’s “Jerusalem: Chronicles From the Holy City.” It’s excellent. Maybe not as great as his amazing Pyongyang but fascinating. Delisle is an excellent sarcastic observer of a place. And Jerusalem is surreal, if not quite as bizarre as the cult of the Kims in Pyongyang.
Honestly the first 1 star review of “Jerusalem” in Goodreads is what really got this column going for me. There is a political viewpoint by many in America, and this includes Fox News America, that whatever Israel does is right. This is also the viewpoint of one of the major lobbying groups in American politics, the AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee). Which is frankly wrong.
The situation in Israel right now is apartheid. One country, two systems. If you are a settler you get walls. You get separate roads, you get police protection.
The most extreme example is in Hebron. Where 500 settlers have 500 policemen/military and separate a West Bank city completely. The Old City and the Cave of the Patriarchs are in the Jewish zone (H2) which is much more settled by Palestinians, and no Jews at all in the H1 zone. It’s a bizarre situation which you can see from the Wikipedia on Hebron. FYI, I love Wikipedia. It started as a minor site with lots of fabrications and has turned into an amazing resource.
Hebron is one of those places that the more you look the more bizarre it is. Here is an example of a Palestian news article. 800 settlers make the lives of 35,000 Palestians in the Isreali military controlled side extremely difficult with 80% unemployment and constant threats of violence.
Delisle shows this with the insanity of having nets above the roofs to capture the stones settlers throw. He also shows that settlers often carry assault weapons on family outings. Graphic novels can show absurdity with a few images in a way that chapters can’t quite describe.
As wonderful as Delisle’s surreal take on Jerusalem is. Joe Sacco’s treatment of Palestine and Gaza is even more devastating. While Delisle is an observer whose wife works for MSF (Doctors Without Borders) in Gaza. Joe Sacco is a reporter and a journalist who use the graphic novel to devastating effect. His work is harsh and brilliant.
Two of Sacco’s classics are “Palestine” and the even more adored “Footnotes in Gaza.” Seth Hahne of the site goodokbad.com does a better job describing both “Palestine” and “Footnotes in Gaza” than I can do and the power of Sacco’s imagery. Here is his review, of “Footnotes in Gaza” his #14 graphic novel of all time. This review also includes comments on Palestine. His review also has images from the amazing graphic novel.
I do support Israel, but Palestinians deserve rights. They deserve the right to move about their country. The right to their land. The right to not have settlers take over and bully them.
Jimmy Carter was right to call Israel an apartheid state and I hope if changes soon. I am not very hopeful.
I have not even finished Delisle’s book yet (I am about 2/3rd of the way through (I got in from the library on Wednesday) and it’s very good. Joe Sacco’s books are amazing. As are his books on Bosnia and being in a seige. Especially “Safe Area Gorzade.” But warning to all they are severe.
I did read some other books this week but will either talk about them tomorrow or likely next week.
Read “Footnotes in Gaza” and “Palestine” though. They will change your views on Israel.