“I came to realize that we Palestinians have a duty to show ourselves in a realistic light,” writes Mohammad Sabaaneh in the preface of his collection of political cartoons, White and Black. “Not quite as ordinary people (because people who are able to live in the conditions of the life they face are anything but ordinary), but not quite as legendary heroes either. What is challenging about the Palestinian experience is that a rational Palestinian cannot identify with either picture.”
White and Black, a graphic telling of the human rights abuses perpetuated by the Israeli state against citizens of Palestine, was recently released by Just World Books, an organization dedicated, among other things, to better understanding the challenges facing the Palestinian diaspora. The drawings by Sabaaneh, who is wrapping up the final leg of a US book tour in support of the release, are populated by hollow-cheeked and weary-eyed Palestinians, huddled in refugee camps, navigating armed checkpoints, or trying to carry on some semblance of life while shackled to balls and chains. Spoiler alert: there is nothing remotely funny about these cartoons.
Image: “Love Surrounded by a Wall” woodcut by Mohammad Sabaaneh (courtesy Just World Books)