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CSBG Archive

A review a day: Footnotes in Gaza

It’s the last day of the year, and why not look at a book that, according to some, is the best graphic novel of the year! But will this reviewer think so????

Joe Sacco’s latest, Footnotes in Gaza, is published by Metropolitan Books, part of Henry Holt and Company, LLC. It costs a mere $29.95, which isn’t that bad considering it’s over 400 pages long. And while I hesitate to call it a masterpiece because this might be how good Sacco is all the time (I’ve never read anything by Sacco, something I’m definitely going to have to rectify), this is a marvelous book. I’m going to have to mull over whether it’s the best of the year, but it’s in the running.

I ought to explain a few things about this book. First, it’s immensely difficult to review, at least after one reading, because Sacco packs the book with stuff that you really need to chew on for a while. I wanted to review it before the end of the year, however, to give you an impression of what’s going on without delving too, too deeply into it. If that makes me a bad reviewer, so be it. I’m sure much smarter people across the Internet have reviewed this sucker much better than I will, so if my meager ramblings interest you, hit Google and check better ones out! But I’ll give it a whirl!

The second thing I want to explain is my expectations going into this book. Without going all FOX News on anyone, I do think a lot of celebrities and literati seem to favor the Palestinians in the conflict with the Israelis. This is a bugbear of conservative commentators who think all Arabs are terrorists and all Jews are nobly fighting for their ancestral homelands. Similarly, many liberals seem to think the Israelis have become as bad as Nazis and the poor Palestinians are simply desperately clinging to lands they owned for centuries before the British and Americans betrayed them at the end of World War II and allowed Israel to come into existence. This incredibly simplistic narrative works for the attention span-challenged in the world, and as we all know, network news pander to those types. I suppose I come down on the side of Israel, only because I believe the country has a right to exist. Both sides’ behavior over the past sixty years, however, is often reprehensible, and the idea that one side is “right” and the other “wrong” doesn’t seem correct. Of course, even in the real world, people want heroes and villains, so the idea that both sides might be doing horrible things doesn’t seem to occur to many of them. Going into this book, I thought Sacco would be on the Palestinians’ side, mainly because of the way the book was described – he was digging into the reports of a massacre of Palestinians by the Israelis in November 1956 in the towns of Khan Younis and Rafah in the Gaza strip. Sacco doesn’t necessarily describe the incidents as “massacres,” but the press about the book did, and when you use a loaded word like “massacre,” you surely are aligning yourself with the victims. I was still very interested in the book, but I worried that we would get a simplistic narrative of noble Palestinians fighting a valiant battle against Israeli occupiers. I shouldn’t have worried. Sacco is too good to get caught up in simplicities. The book is slanted toward the Palestinians, but not excessively so.

Sacco is somewhat of an anomaly in comics. He’s a historian/journalist, not really in either world. This is not an unusual career in the world of prose – you can find several history books written by journalists; Robert Kaplan is probably my favorite, but he’s certainly not unique – but in comics, it’s somewhat unusual. Sacco is not only a good journalist and a decent historian, he’s a fine graphic artist as well, so his books are unique.

In this comic, Sacco tells two intertwined stories: He investigates the deaths of Palestinians in Gaza in 1956, but while he’s writing that story, he also tells the story of the current Palestinians and how the past both has and doesn’t have an impact on their lives. Sacco is desperate to get the story of 1956 down before all the survivors die off, as official records are remarkably sparse and sanitized (we get several documents at the end in appendices, but Sacco doesn’t interview any Israelis who were in Gaza at the time, possibly because he couldn’t find any or they wouldn’t speak to him), and so he wanders Khan Younis and Rafah looking for people who witnessed the massacres. While doing this, he naturally meets several people who are currently fighting against the Israelis, and he puts their stories into the book as well. The book becomes much deeper because of this, as Sacco must constantly try to balance his desire to figure out something that, for the people living through the trouble in 2003, is completely irrelevant. Sacco does a tremendous job showing how it’s still relevant without becoming pedantic – he never actually tries to convince the younger people that what happened in 1956 matters, allowing instead for his narrative to show how the events still resonate. (At one point in the book, he tells some young people that if they’ve forgotten what happened fifty years earlier, in fifty years no one will remember what they’re doing, but that’s as close as he gets to a soapbox.) The reader gets a fuller understanding of the irony that often accompanies history without Sacco being too obvious about it.

Footnotes in Gaza is a very balanced book, even if Sacco doesn’t try to get the Israeli side. He himself provides the balance, as do several people he interviews in the book. At one point a character tells him that the Israelis are all soldiers, so it doesn’t matter if “innocent” people are killed in bombings. The Arabs decry the practice of Israelis killing civilians indiscriminately, but they think nothing of sending women and children out as suicide bombers. Sacco doesn’t comment on this, simply lets the characters speak. He gives us many sides of the story, both in the Fifties and in the present. The biggest lack in the historical part of the book, as far as I can remember (and yes, I’m doing this from memory, so I could be missing plenty), is that the people who became the Jewish government in 1948 were willing to create a two-state system in Palestine, and the Palestinians, backed by the major Arab countries, rejected this because they thought they could defeat the Israelis in combat. This is never mentioned in the book, but Sacco does make sure that the Palestinians aren’t simply the good guys fighting against the evil Jews. He doesn’t bring in the Israeli point of view much, but when he does, he makes it clear that things are definitely not as simple as the Palestinians would like us to believe.

What’s interesting about the way Sacco tells the story is that he steps into the story quite often to question what he’s doing and what people are telling him. He doesn’t do this as much in the present, but when he and his translator assemble the facts of what happened in Gaza in 1956, he begins to ruminate on how much they can trust. Footnotes in Gaza becomes as much about how we create history as it is about what actually happened. Very early on, Sacco writes “This is the story of footnotes to a sideshow of a forgotten war.” A page later, he writes, “History can do without its footnotes. Footnotes are inessential at best; at worst they trip up the greater narrative.” He’s setting this up as ironic, because as we see throughout the book, history is made of “footnotes” (and I love footnotes, myself), but to a certain degree he’s right: All of the people he interviews in his book are “unimportant” in the grand scheme of things. Sacco steps outside his narrative quite often to explain what is happening in the wider world, from the machinations that led to the Suez Crisis of 1956 to George Bush’s invasion of Iraq, which was ramping up while Sacco was in Gaza. The “little people” often get lost in the sweep of history, as Sacco admits. But those people are the bricks and mortar of history, and Sacco does a fine job building the foundation. As he interjects himself into the narrative, this also becomes a story about how he (and, to a degree, the reader) reacts to the history – the end of the book has nothing to do with what happened in 1956 or what’s going on in the wider world of 2003, but how Sacco himself tries to understand the events. It’s history as self-absorption … and I don’t say that as an insult, I say it as the way we all have to process the world. Sacco has an epiphany at the end that, historically speaking, is fairly brilliant. But it also allows him to suddenly understand why digging into the past has been so difficult. We have been following this track throughout the book, and it’s fascinating how Sacco wraps it up so perfectly. How much can each of us really know about what’s going on? That’s the conundrum of history.

Not only is this the history of an event, it’s a social and cultural history as well. Sacco “embeds” himself in Gaza for a few months, and he sees how the Palestinians act in their everyday lives, with the threat of Israeli attack (or, more likely, house demolition) constantly on their minds. Sacco can’t understand why so many young people don’t want to talk about 1956, until we realize that they live with the fear of sudden death every day of their lives. Why should one event stand out when there are so many similar events to mourn? But what Sacco does by simply chronicling the lives of the Gazans is give us both an appreciation of their dilemma and a kind of a tragic resignation that they and the Israelis are so locked in their cycles that peace has no hope. He writes often of the Oslo accords of 1993 and how many Palestinians viewed it as a sell-out by their leaders. The rifts among the Arabs, both in the 1950s and in the present, are one reason Isreal has been able to survive (ironically, this was the reason the Crusader kingdoms survived so long a millennium ago). The people on the ground feel that they have been betrayed by the upper crust of the Arab world, because those leaders don’t have to live in a border zone where Israeli bulldozers might demolish your house at any time with very little warning. The leaders don’t have to worry about poverty and joblessness and the slow grind of life in Gaza, where a simple journey from north to south might take hours or even days because the Israelis can close the only road whenever they want, causing traffic jams that stretch for miles (they guard an east-west route from a Jewish settlement to Israel proper, which means they can block Palestinian traffic for any reason, or no reason). Sacco shows us all of this without excusing the horrors the Palestinians perpetrate on the Israelis, and it makes this a far more complex portrait of the region than we might expect. You know, from a comic book.

Sacco is a marvelous artist, too, with astonishing and meticulous attention to detail. He often gives us full-page spreads of Rafah today, with rubble lying on recently bulldozed ground, and the sheer scale of the destruction is impressive and tragic. When he returns to 1956, he wonderfully shows the mass of humanity that were herded into a schoolyard in November of that year and made to crouch for hours. When they’re released, we get a full page of the men breaking down a stone wall as they try to escape, and we can feel the relief mixed with terror that the men feel as they finally reach freedom. We get a true sense of the desert and the desolation of Gaza and the impermanence of even the large towns (one detail I noticed was Sacco showing the rebar sticking out of pillars on the tops of houses – I saw this in Egypt and never got a sufficient explanation for why it occurred, but it makes the houses look half-finished and therefore ready to be torn down). His large cast of characters tend to blur together, mainly because both the older men and women dress in traditional styles and aren’t in the book long enough to make much of an impression, but Sacco, his translator, and a few other key characters come to vivid life in the book. Sacco expresses the horrid banality of life in the refugee camps and the towns of Gaza, and whenever the kids run after him in the book, we can guess that some of them, at least, become soldiers to alleviate the boredom they feel. Sacco does a wonderful job showing how the boredom can suddenly turn deadly as the Israelis destroy a house (and Sacco mentions Rachel Corrie, the American protestor who was killed when an Israeli bulldozer accidentally crushed her) or, at night, believe they see people with weapons and start firing into the streets. Mainly through the precise art, Sacco shows how nerve-wracking this kind of life can be. He also does some nice things when cacophony is called for, overlapping narrative balloons and drawings to create an artistic assault on the senses that reflects the swirl of emotions that often override logic in the region. It’s nicely done.

I really can’t recommend Footnotes in Gaza enough. It’s emotionally wrenching, wonderfully drawn, meticulously researched, relevant, timely, and fascinating. Sacco manages to walk a fine line between compassion for his subjects and condemnation for some of their actions. He also manages to present a balanced look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict even as it’s clear he has a great deal of sympathy for the victims. The book is a wonderful historical document but also a gripping story of tragedy and cover-up. Sacco doesn’t attempt to explain why the Israelis would cover the events in Gaza up or even if they actively did so, but he does raise questions in our mind about the way it was handled by the authorities, and that’s always a good thing, no matter whose side you’re on. Footnotes in Gaza manages to be a human interest story that not only works well as history, but as something that explains why we study history in the first place. It’s really an amazing comic.

24 Comments

Your review struck me as quite objective (as does the book), and I appreciate your efforts to be ‘fair & balanced’.

No ‘but’s here, just appreciation for the skill that you demonstrated here as a reviewer (as much as the work by Sacco).

Congrats on a wonderful writeup!

Sacco’s book reminds me a lot of “Light Force” by Brother Andrew. Brother Andrew was/is known for going into Eastern Europe while there was still an iron curtain.
Currently, he has spent time in Israel/Palistine with Christian believers on both sides. Great stuff, and not baised toward Israel, but tries to simply tell a story. Thanks for the great review!
DFTBA

Hi1 Good review, but I would take issue with a few points. Your memory of history – i.e., the events of 1948 – is the Israeli version of history, not necessarily what really happened. The Israelis did accept the UN partition of Palestine, in part because they would be getting more and the best land, in part because they also felt that they should take what they could get when it was offered, with the intention of taking more when they could. The Palestinians rejected the partition because they felt – quite reasonably, I would argue – that the UN had no right to divide and give away their homeland. When the Arab states invaded after the Israeli declaration of independence, they did not do so with the simple intent of destroying the new Israeli state – they actually intended to seize as much land for themselves as they could and, ironically, they were also intent on preventing the creation of a Palestinian state. The Israelis beat them because at no time in its history has Israel ever been weaker than the Arabs it has fought against. 1948 was no exception – though fewer in number, the Israelis were better trained and equipped and so they won the resulting conflict and were able to seize the biggest share of the land for themselves, ultimately leaving the Palestinians with 22% of original mandate Palestine.

I agree with your comment that Israel has a right to exist, but that fact should not blind us to the reality that it was created at the expense and at the price of great injustice to the local population – people who had their land given away, in large part, because they were poor, predominantly Muslim, and had no sway in the corridors of power in the Western world, a world that was dealing with its guilt in the aftermath of the Holocaust. Israel’s creation is a bit more complicated than the typical story of the creation of other European colonial states, but it is, in the end, essentially such a state.

I’d also take issue with your claim that Rachel Corrie was killed by accident. That is, again, a highly debatable assertion.

Thanks for the review – I’ll be interested in picking this up.

Shaun: I’d agree with all your points, although nothing you write is terribly surprising – weaker people have always been screwed out of their “fair share.” Woodrow Wilson famously ignored his own belief in self-determination to screw over a bunch of different people because they were weak.

I have no idea what really happened to Rachel Corrie. I know there’s controversy, so “accidentally” may have been too concrete a word, but I’d be very surprised if the Israelis killed an American deliberately, knowing that the Americans are their biggest allies.

I’ve read Sacco’s most acclaimed stuff and loved it. I was really surprised when I found out you had never read him before especially considering your interest in history. I’ll check this out as soon as the library gets it. Did all the good reviews prompt you to pick this up or was it just a light Wednesday?

Da Fug: Yeah, I was late on Jason Lutes’ Berlin too, because I totally suck. I had heard good things about Sacco, so when this was offered in Previews, I decided to take the plunge. Now I have to go find his other books!

Greg: You’d be surprised if the Israelis killed an American deliberately?

What about the 34 crew members of the USS Liberty, June 8, 1967? That was no accident.
Never, ever forget….

The USS Liberty incident was officially declared a mistake, resulting from the ‘fog of war’, by both the US and Israeli governments. Yes, there are a lot of open questions about the official story. How could such a mistake occur, essentially, twice (for those unfamiliar with the incident, the Liberty was first attacked by jet fighters and then by torpedo boats)? It’s extremely suspicious.

On the other hand, there are open questions about criticism of the official story as well. There’s never been a good explanation for WHY the Israelis would deliberately attack a US naval vessel during a war in which the United States supplied them with key intelligence without which they might very well have been defeated. The most respectable critics of the official story offer little to nothing about the motivations for a deliberate attack. One of the foremost official critics of the official story helped to establish the official story, so he either lied then or is lying now or both and this makes it very difficult to decide which of his statements would be trustworthy. Those critics who DO specifically extrapolate motives for the attack end up losing themselves in anti-Semitic rhetoric and sometimes appear unaware they are even doing so: the notion appears to be that Israel attacked the Liberty because Israel is evil and Israel is evil because it attacked the Liberty. The motive is in the action and the action establishes proof of the motive. Not terribly sound logic.

I don’t know what happened. On this subject, however, the only possible logical decision is to admit that there are many unanswered questions on both sides. Claiming explicit truth about the incident is impossible without carrying the burden of proof and this has simply not been done.

I don’t get how the reviewer says that the book is unbiased when he clearly states that Sacco makes no attempt to get the Israeli side of the story. The reviewer supplied possible reasons for Sacco’s oversight, but they all seem like giving Sacco the benefit of the doubt and ASSUMING that he tried to get the Israeli perspective. Maybe Sacco IS biased against Israel and therefore didn’t care about their perspective.

Producing an historical document that purports to be unbiased but clearly chooses sides and does not seek out the perspective of the other side (and, it seems, provides no reason in the text as to WHY Israel’s version was not told) is self-contradictory. I couldn’t call such a biased story to be “good” if I were reviewing it, that’s for sure. Based on the review, it does seem that any attempt to mention Israel’s perspective is done in a rather purposely off-handed manner at best.

As for ShaunN’s comments about the real secret evil reasons Israel was willing to go along with the UN division of the land, that’s just a case of someone passing off his opinions as fact. After all, how could we know what was on anyone’s minds? To say that Israel was given the best land and that they knew they could steal the rest whenever they wanted is something that I’m sure never came out of an Israeli mouth, yet ShaunN presents it as if it were told to him personally by Menachim Begin. Please.

Then we get comments from others about Israelis deliberately killing Americans. Yes, no one seems to know WHY they’d do it, and the facts don’t support it, but they still feel the need to be suspicious anyway.

My personal biases lie WITH Israel in case you couldn’t tell, so I’m going to have to skip this book. In spite of the reviewer starting off by saying that the book does not take the easy route of portraying the Arabs as innocent victims and the Israelis as evil occupiers, the review that followed seemed to contradict that as much as support it.

On the subject of the Middle East, I always ask the more liberal knee-jerk supporters of the Palestinean Arabs exactly what Israel is doing that any other country in the exact same circumstances wouldn’t do. If you’re going to trash Israel’s actions as unconscionable, then you have to show how another country in the exact same circumstances would handle it any better. They never can.

then you have to show how another country in the exact same circumstances would handle it any better.

OK, how about this. If you are going to invade Gaza, then for God’s sake get rid of Hamas. Sure, they stopped the rocket attacks, but Hamas is still in charge of Gaza and still oppressing the Palestinian people. Which just means that Israel will have to invade Gaza again, probably in or before 2013, around the next election to the Knesset, and in the process hundreds more innocent Palestinians will die once again.

Compare this to how the US responded to the 9/11 attacks, the half-complete invasion of Gaza would be equivalent to the US going into Afghanistan, blowing up some al-Qaeda bases, then asking the Taliban very politely to be good. These band-aid solutions make me think that the people in charge of Israel aren’t really interested in peace, merely extending the status quo.

If you say that international outcry would be too great for such a regime change, then perhaps instead Israel should invite in international peacekeepers, like Indonesia did after the independence vote in East Timor.

Neither situations are exactly the same, but no country is ever going to be in exactly the same situation as Israel. I just don’t see why either of these two solutions couldn’t be pursued by Israel, and both of them would be better than what they did.

Well Ted, I’m glad you answered in a non-trollish manner. That’s all I want is for good conversation to take place, not fanboy sniping back and forth. Hopefully, that went out with Old-Newsarama.

I agree that no country is in the same position as Israel is in, and that’s why no one should be too quick to judge. I think a more approximate scenario rather than 9-11 would be if Mexico would start bombing us because they feel they have the god-given right to Texas. I think if that happened, there would certainly be a response from us at least equal to Israel’s response. I think the people would demand it.

Anyway, as far as Israel not getting rid of Hamas, I think you answered your own question. Hamas was elected by the people of the Gaza region so if you thought people were against Israel before, just wait until they try the regime change thing. As for international peacekeepers, if Israel feels that the UN is slanted against them, then inviting them into their sovereign nation to dictate terms would only put them in a weaker position. Remember that Arab and Muslim nations make up a considerable bloc of the UN, and that’s why Israel is always getting resolutions passed against it when other countries that are actually engaging in severe human rights violations (including many Muslim terrorist nations) don’t even rate a slap on the wrist.

It’s nice to say that some international peacekeeping force, whether UN based or not, would be wholly unbiased and fair, but there are political realities here, and in the UN and in much of Europe, the anti-Israel sentiment is just as high as the pro-Israel sentiment is here in the US.

Again, I just feel that Israel would prefer peace and many Israelis support a two-state solution, but they aren’t going to put their national security in jeopardy to achieve it, and it’s foolish of anyone to ask them to or expect them to. We wouldn’t do it if we were in their position, and no other country would either.

A two state solution would never be fairly determined or fairly implemented. Only a single-state, one-citizen-one vote system would be fair. To insist on anything less is to accept a racially-based society, of the occupiers and the occupied. Apartheid, in other words.

And where are these facts FrankS cites that don’t support the repeated deadly attacks by israel on the clearly-identified american vessel, prominently flying tthe American flag, in international waters?
Just because Lyndon Johnson agreed to ignore the attack doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Johnson also insisted that Oswald was definitely a lone gunman, didn’t he? Never really trusted Johnson’s perceptions on these things.

Actually, a two-State Solution doesn’t have to be ‘racist’. There are Christian & Muslim Israelis, as well as other races and religions. All have equal rights. In fact, Israel is one of the few (if not only – I think Turkey also might still) nations that still have Millit law, where one can take a civil case to religious court, and that court can be Jewish, Islamic, or Christian.

Of course, a “two state” solution can’t exist today anyway, as Gaza and The West Bank are effectively entirely separate nations.

I think a more approximate scenario rather than 9-11 would be if Mexico would start bombing us because they feel they have the god-given right to Texas.

I don’t think it is fair to say all Palestinians believe that they have a god-given right to Palestine, certainly no more than Israelis that believe that they have a god-given right to Israel. Many Palestinians believe that they have a right to Palestine because they were their first, and at least 700 years of Muslim settlement are hard to argue against. Perhaps a better example of people thinking that had a god-given right to land would be those that believed they had a ‘manifest destiny’ to conquer the lands of the Native Americans. Certainly then the Native Americans were entitled, and perhaps still are entitled, to defend their national security.

Of course Mexico did control Texas, before the Texas Revolution of 1835. If Israel is entitled to defend its national security against illegitimate rebellions, then surely Mexico should be so entitled too, against illegitimate Texican insurrectionists. Furthermore, just as the demographics of Pre-Mandate and Mandate Palestine changed from that of majority Muslim to majority Jewish, the demographics of Texas is changing from majority White to majority Hispanic. Should then a Hispanic state arise in Texas, surely that state would be entitled to defend its national security against a White majority United States.

As for international peacekeepers, if Israel feels that the UN is slanted against them, then inviting them into their sovereign nation to dictate terms would only put them in a weaker position.

But the peacekeepers wouldn’t be in their sovereign nation, they would be in Palestine. Yes, a contingent of international peacekeepers may be slanted against Israel, but who is currently the impartial umpire of the Israel-Palestine conflict? Israel itself. Are you telling me that Israel is not pro-Israel? When Israel closes Palestinian border crossings, are they equally considering Israel and Palestine’s positions, or are they just worried about themselves. Israel is also an economic rival to Palestine, and by closing the border they can steal much of their business. Yes, international peacekeepers may be unfair, but they can’t possibly be more unfair than Israel itself.

they aren’t going to put their national security in jeopardy to achieve it, and it’s foolish of anyone to ask them to or expect them to. We wouldn’t do it if we were in their position, and no other country would either.

Really? So we can never ask or expect a nation to put their national security in jeopardy? So we can’t ask China to legalise free speech, because that might their national security in jeopardy? We can’t ask Iran to give up nuclear weapons, because that their might national security in jeopardy? Can we even ask George III to give the American colonies self-representation? No, I guess not.

That’s nonsense. To put national security above all is the origin of all tyranny. “Those that put temporary safety over essential liberty deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Democracy itself is a risk to national security, as are all civil liberties, and I, for one, would definitely risk national security for essential liberty. What’s right is right, national security be damned. We can ask, nay, we must demand righteousness from all nations, and if they are unwilling to do right, then we should put a gun to their head and make them. We did it in WWII, we did it during the Cold War, and we did it in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Furthermore, what of Palestine’s national security. Surely they should be as entitled to defend their lands as Israel, with whatever tools they may have at hand. If Israel are in the right, then why not Palestine?

Brian from Canada

January 3, 2010 at 4:29 am

Ted, you are missing out on five key facts of the recent Israeli-Gaza conflict:

One, the rockets didn’t cease. According to the UN itself, there have been over three hundred rockets fired from Gaza on Israel during the “cease fire.” If that’s not a contradiction in terms, I don’t know what is. And you would have to be an idiot not to see the Israeli government would be under pressure from those living in the area to make them stop being forced to run into bomb shelters on a regular basis.

Two, you cannot have peacekeepers unless you have peace. This was a mistake the UN made in the former Yugoslavia. Its peacekeepers become targets from all sides. No country wants to put its soldiers into harm’s way from another country just because the UN can’t figure out another way to put pressure against war. And they’re still doing it! Just look at the UN observation tower that was hit during the conflict with Hezbollah (formerly southern Lebanon): what the hell were they doing keeping people in the middle of an identified war zone? If you were in charge of your country, would you send your people out to be shot at?

Three, the border actions are grossly misrepresented in the media. Gaza borders TWO nations, not one, and Israel does not control both. The other one is Egypt. And Egypt also has tight border control to prevent weapons being smuggled in — weapons, it should be noted, which are being purchased by nations that would like both countries’ governments to be replaced with strongly Islamic states. Hence the tunnels from the Egyptian desert which Israel cited as the central problem in the Gaza conflict. Sadly, the Egyptian point of view is rarely covered and when it is, it’s viewed as anti-Muslim.

Four, the options for Palestinians themselves are very poor and limited. Hamas won because Hamas is less corrupt than Fatah. Look it up. Under Arafat’s rule, half the budget automatically went into his discretionary fund which required no oversight, and the other half had at least half under the control of his office. Infrastructure is poor, and Hamas rightly did help people who were affected. The problem with Hamas is that it refuses to see any vision of the future with its neighbour still around — and that puts the rest of the world in a catch-22 situation: keep funding them, you support the destruction; stop funding them, you hate Palestinians.

And, finally, five: even if the United Nations were to step in — and that’s a big IF — who COULD they get to assist with the effort? Palestinians would reject North American presence, Australia won’t go, and most east Asian countries are using their militaries elsewhere. And since Africa doesn’t have the force strong enough, you’d basically be putting the pressure on Europe, which still believes in using sanctions and biased decisions through agencies like the UN.

You’re also making two erroneous assumptions.

Firstly, territories recognized for the State of Israel in 1948 were already predominantly Jewish. Their establishment as Jewish communities predated Muslim control of the territory by centuries, and their populations increased at the end of the nineteenth century/early twentieth century when Jews were forcibly exiled from northern African communities they were also living in. (This is opposed to those living in eastern and central Europe who mostly went to North America instead.)

Secondly, Israel is NOT an economic rival for Palestine. It’s not. Palestine has no industrial base — something Tony Blair recognized immediately when he went in to try and mediate the situation. Investment in Gaza and the West Bank is almost non-existant except for war; factories are not being built because the collateral damage would be too high.

And therein lies one crux of the real problem: a two-state solution can only exist if the two states have a common goal to work upon. But unless you have economic stability, you don’t have a focus on trade. And the only way the leadership can perceive of getting that stability seems to be violence, and that’s all thanks to the media: much of the western support comes from reaction to scenes of senseless death and destruction. You weep for the child hit by stray bullets; you weep for the schools hit by mortar shells. And those tears lead to outrage and calls for punishment — emotions that sweep past the real causes of the shooting.

Because the reasons aren’t something they want to get around. The recent decision condemning Israel for its use of weapons in the last conflict doesn’t blame Israel alone: it also puts blame on Hamas for its use of civilian shields, improvised weapons, and other tactics. The Palestinian authority had to do a quick about-face when Abbas supported its anti-Israel slant because they didn’t want to be seen as the perpetrators as well.

The other crux of the real problem is the UN itself, or rather its inability to present an unbiased approach to the situation. The UN does not seek to end the suffering of Palestinians living in camps in Lebanon who are being denied rights far worse than anywhere else in the Middle East. The UN refuses to accept that Israeli children have the right to live peacefully like their Palestinian neighbours. The UN declared the desire for living in a state where Jews are not persecuted automatically for their religion (the real meaning of zionism) as being racist, but not the calls by Hamas and Hezbollah amongst others for all Jews to be driven into the sea and massacred as hate language.

The UN has joined in the voices of condemnation of Israeli treatment of Muslims and Arabs in its territories. But if the right to vote, free movement within the country, free medical care and funding for education (not to mention sewers and garbage pick up) are things to condemn, then by all rights the entire western world should be condemned for offering it to all its citizens too. The only Muslims locked up in Israel are those who openly admit acts of violence which run against the law, and some openly admit that their lives inside the prison are better than what they would have back home even though they would still love to go around killing Jews if they can. Yet the UN wants them to send such criminals back because it would be a good gesture for peace?

Even in its study of the last conflict is the bias clear. Israel was found guilty of using the illegal weapon of white phosphorus against civilian targets when there is no law against the use of such weapons. (In fact, the Israelis used them as they were recommended to be used in other countries as an urban warfare tactic.)

And so the United Nations loses its ability to mediate any type of settlement in the conflict itself. The fact that it observes a cease fire with rockets still being fired across the border means it has lost perspective. And that forces the three other major powers we have — the US, the EU and Russia — to step up in its place, a problem in itself because the Arab nations see only bias towards Israel by the US, and the EU is far too concerned with defining itself as something other than American-like to really deal with the issue at hand. (As for Russia, they are just a mess internally as well.)

And the US has every right to be pro-Israeli. The Jews didn’t sign up with the enemies of America, the Arabs did, first with the Nazis and then with the Soviets. (Arafat’s job during the war was to be building the concentration camp if Hitler would approve one, but the Germans were only focused on Europe.) Israel is also a democracy with western ideals, which is the type of government the US has always sought to support.

Is that a pro-Israeli stance? Maybe, but consider this as well: the UN sees no reason to help the Kurds against the Sunni and Shiites in the Middle East and it should be their mandate to help all people. The UN did not rush in to Rwanda, nor into the Sudan when there were crises there whose results were far more devastating than what’s happening in Gaza.

And where is the UN in Afghanistan or Iraq? According to America, the war is over. But the UN, which has entire sub-agencies dedicated to supporting refugees refuses to go in and help those in need in those former war zones.

Of course, I’m a little biased too: the UN identifies Canada as a far worse violator of human rights than China!

I’ve read this text. I disagree with the reviewer. Socco makes a terrible mistake with this text. It’s not in the way he tells the story — I think he’s learned a lot from Spiegelman about how to humanize world events and that’s a good thing for moving the medium forward into respectability. The mistake lies with his own definition of his role here.

Spiegelman presented himself as a chronicler, nothing more. He asked his father for the story and this is what he heard. He makes no judgement other than to draw the bad guys as bad guys, but that is the perception of the story teller. You are sympathetic to his plight but you don’t need to know the Nazi story because this is one man’s perception of events and how they went down, not one man’s setting of history down on paper.

Socco, however, presents himself as a “journalist” AND a “historian” who should not have to be unbiased. That undermines what he’s doing, not supporting it. The story becomes presented as fact rather than a perception of fact no matter how many times he tries to inject himself as someone who is just curious about what happened. There are just too many voices here, and none of them offer any type of alternative view. It becomes more a work of fiction than fact, and you end up dismissing what could have otherwise been an important reminder of past tragedy as something not based on reality.

The footnotes in Footnote would have been far more effective as perceptions on fact rather than fiction. And that’s why this book deserves the criticism it’s gotten (the reason I was interested in it in the first place). This book is not going to change any perceptions about the situation; if anything, it will entrench it further on an emotional level only.

Brian from Canada

January 3, 2010 at 4:31 am

Sorry, just want to apologize to anyone who thinks the last post is a little too long-winded. Sadly, the situation this book deals with is not something we can sum up in one or two sentences (like “Nazis bad”).

I always feel weird when people call me “the reviewer.” It makes me sound like some aloof reviewing deity, dispensing reviews from Mount Olympus like lightning bolts. My name is Greg, people! We’re all friends here!

FrankS: That’s cool if you skip the book because it doesn’t sound like your thing. Maybe I do give Sacco the benefit of the doubt, but I still maintain that, while he’s sympathetic to the Palestinians, he’s not completely on their side. As I mentioned, in the appendices he gives the official Israeli accounts of what happened. That’s why I gave him the benefit of the doubt with regard to finding people to interview from the Jewish side – he goes through a lot of trouble to assemble documents that show the Israeli point of view – at least the official one – so why he wouldn’t follow up with Israelis who were there makes no sense. But that’s just me.

Your point about not calling a “biased” history good is interesting, mainly because absolutely NO historical document is unbiased, no matter what the writer claims. History cannot be written without a bias. Sacco is fairly clear about his biases, but he also tries to undermine those biases by pointing out when the accounts he’s listening to don’t jive with each other. Many historians present their documents as absolute fact, which is impossible. At least Sacco doesn’t do that.

Brian the Canadian: Thanks for the good comment, and I don’t care if it’s long-winded. In much the same way as FrankS, I have to disagree with your assertion, mainly because there’s no way Sacco can be unbiased. Your point about the perceptions of fact is interesting, because I tried to get across in the review how much this book is about just that – how we write history, what we choose to focus on, whether we deal in “great man” history – Nasser, Dayan, Ben-Gurion, and the like – or whether we deal with events in the trenches. Sacco is telling a story, and I think the problem some people will have with this book – it sounds like the problem you have with it, and correct me if I’m wrong – is that they expect it to be “straight” history. But that gets back to what “straight” history is. Sacco is not a historian by trade (I call him only “decent” in the review), and even historians who train at it can’t keep their own perceptions out of their history. Sacco might be egregious (I don’t think so), but he’s not the only one. What makes this book so fascinating to me is that Sacco does get into the way history is constructed, which I think is very valuable. You may not think so, though, and that’s fine.

I’m not sure if you’re right about this book “entrenching” opinions. Maybe it will. I think that the way Sacco both humanizes the Palestinians but doesn’t let them simply spew anti-Isreali rhetoric (some characters do, of course, but they are presented as a bit extreme) goes a long way toward showing them as people trying to survive. Some are desperate, some are willing to work with Israel, some are angry at the leadership … in other words, they’re just people.

Oh well – I do like that the book makes people want to talk about things. That’s a good thing!

Brian from Canada

January 3, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Greg:

I don’t expect it to be a straight story. What I expect is Socco to either state that he’s chronicling the Palestinian perception from today of what happened back then, or state that this is his interpretation of how the Palestinians were telling him their side of this event was. But he does neither. He positions himself as a historian, rather than a chronicler, and I find that definition quite problematic.

Our western definition for historian is someone unbiased. That’s how history stands next to science and mathematics in the halls of academia. There are strict rules for presenting facts. But claiming to present facts and not being interested in verifying them — he had the opportunity to ask Israeli officials who are on record as disputing this record of events they participated in but refused — runs contrary to that. Whoever comes next is going to have a hard time competing against Socco’s very human view of events in order to present something that, while not needing to be even in judgment to both sides, has to present the messages of both sides.

That’s why I say it’s entrenching. Socco does a masterful job of presenting that there are various opinions and reactions to the events he presents as facts, but the identification of these events as facts still remains at the core. It either reinforces the idea that Israel is getting away with murder (literally) because of their close association with the west, or that the Palestinians continue to use emotions without both sides of the story in order to sway to opinion against Israel. I’ve seen that happen with too many events recently — and we don’t need to add more fuel to the fire.

It’s not Socco’s intention, at least not overt (he wants to create understanding of the people on the ground, something we all need about both sides) but he is doing just that by not presenting this as people alone. Facts are facts, and in a war in the press like the Israeli-Hamas conflicts, facts are as powerful as weapons as emotions.

Wish it weren’t true, but it is. And, like you, I think it’s a good thing we’re talking about things (especially politely and intelligently!). Especially for the graphic medium of comicbooks; it breaks out of the funny book idea even further and presents it as a legitimate medium for story telling.

Brian: Yeah, fair enough about Sacco chronicling rather than distilling the events into a historical record. I don’t have as big a problem with it, I guess, because despite your assertion that the western definition of a historian is someone unbiased, that hasn’t been true even as an ideal for years. You read some of your classic historians of the 20th century (A. J. P. Taylor leaps to mind), when history became more of an academic pursuit and not an amateur one, and it’s astonishing how biased they are. Yet they’re the ones who claimed we could study history “scientifically.” But you make good points about how skillfully Sacco presents the case, and how that might color future endeavors about it. I tend to think it won’t, but that’s just a difference of opinion.

Brian, I wasn’t really arguing that we should be “pro-Palestine”. Such positions seem terribly reductive. What I was arguing against was Frank’s assertion that no way that Israel could have handled the crisis better. Even if Israel had acted mostly right, something that I’m not going to argue against, I can’t believe that they have done nothing wrong. No nation can claim that. It seems to me that such knee-jerk pro-Israel positions are as incorrect as the knee-jerk, often anti-Semitic, anti-Israel position.

If I can address your particular points:

the rockets didn’t cease

Is your point that rockets continued to fire after the Gaza invasion? Because then I don’t see how you’re really arguing against my main point. I said that Israel half-assed the invasion and only helped themselves. If your saying that Israel failed to even stop the rockets, then the invasion was a complete failure, and all those innocent lives were lost for nothing. Right there is something that Israel could have done better: actually stop the rockets.

Two, you cannot have peacekeepers unless you have peace. This was a mistake the UN made in the former Yugoslavia. Its peacekeepers become targets from all sides. No country wants to put its soldiers into harm’s way from another country just because the UN can’t figure out another way to put pressure against war. And they’re still doing it! Just look at the UN observation tower that was hit during the conflict with Hezbollah (formerly southern Lebanon): what the hell were they doing keeping people in the middle of an identified war zone? If you were in charge of your country, would you send your people out to be shot at?

Yes, heaven forbid we put soldiers in a war. They might get their guns dirty. Yes, I would send soldiers to get shot at, if it were a worthy cause. That’s what soldiers are for. You point to Yugoslavia, but that seems to miss that fact that Yugoslavia, for the most part, has achieved a peace that Israel can only dream of. Yes, many innocent people died in the process, but if you gave me a choice between living in pretty much anywhere in the former Yugoslavia and in Palestine, I would easily choose Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia is the best kind of success story we can hope for in International politics. If you tell me that putting peacekeepers in Palestine will mean that Palestine will be like Yugoslavia in ten years, then I say go for it. You say that “the UN can’t figure out another way to put pressure against war”, but what is your solution? The only things I can think of are angry words, sanctions and military interventions, and I don’t think angry words and sanctions don’t really work.

Gaza borders TWO nations, not one, and Israel does not control both.

Yes, but of the seven major border crossings out of Gaza, Israel controls six. And two wrongs don’t make a right, Egypt is an illiberal dictatorship which oppresses its people, ‘Egypt did it too’ isn’t much of an excuse. And the US, bastion of all that is good and righteous, seems to be curiously unconcerned with the crimes committed by Egypt (and by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States). Perhaps the UN isn’t the only unfairly biased party.

The problem with Hamas is that it refuses to see any vision of the future with its neighbour still around — and that puts the rest of the world in a catch-22 situation: keep funding them, you support the destruction; stop funding them, you hate Palestinians.

I agree it is an almost impossible situation. My point is that if you aren’t going to tolerate Hamas then you need to put another group in its place. You can’t just subvert Hamas then leave Palestine with a power vacuum. If you’re going to decide the leadership of a country then do it completely, don’t half-ass it.

who COULD they get to assist with the effort?

That’s a hard question to answer. I don’t know the internal politics of every state. The one state I know best would be Australia. I don’t know if Australia would join such an effort, I would vote for it, if it came to a vote which it wouldn’t. I imagine that Australia’s involvement would have more to do with other countries, I don’t know if we are capable of not joining a war the US are involved in. At the very least Israel could try, and then the onus would be on the other nations of the world. Perhaps they may even surprise you.

territories recognized for the State of Israel in 1948 were already predominantly Jewish. Their establishment as Jewish communities predated Muslim control of the territory by centuries,

I don’t know where I disagreed with this fact. Sure, Israel was controlled by Jews two thousand years ago, long before the birth of Mohammad. But since then there has centuries of Muslim control. Does that not give them any right to the territory? If we are going by ‘whoever was there first’ then we should give the entire territory over to the Canaanites, if we can find any. I do think that the Israelis have a claim to Israel, but I also believe that the Palestinians have a claim to Palestine. If Israel’s claim gives it the right to defend its land and culture, then surely the Palestinians have the same right.

Israel is NOT an economic rival for Palestine.

I think you misunderstand how I use the term rival. I mean that all countries are economic rivals, and that Israel has an unfair advantage against Palestine in that rivalry because they control most of Palestine’s international trade. When Israel blocks Palestine’s borders, I can’t help but to notice that as I side-effect they keep millions of dollars of trade that might have otherwise gone to Israel, and I can’t help but to think that might effect their decisions.

the only way the leadership can perceive of getting that stability seems to be violence

The problem I have is that violence is the only way I see of getting stability. I’m a creature of my times, if you have a problem with a country you invade them and fix the problem. War seems to me to be the only form of international relations the works. If you have a better solution, I would like to hear it.

Finally, all this talk of anti-Israel bias, seems to me to be ignoring the fact that Israel can look after itself. Israel has plenty of money, the most powerful armed forces in the Middle East and nuclear weapons. I’m not sure why we need to protect them from the big, bad UN. If we remember, the forces of the Arabic nations already attacked Israel, and Israel defeated them all, basically single-handedly. I think they are going to be OK. I believe in protecting the weak against the strong, because it’s the weak that need protection.

There’s a lot of stuff here I feel a need to reply to, and it’s all too interwoven for me to want to take the time to single out individuals and individual statements. This is a situation where everything is connected to everything else in the most intimate ways and the discussion of the situation (from either side or even an attempt to be neutral) is equally interwoven with every facet of the situation.

I will comment on the issue of ‘liberal support for the Palestinians’ in its own right, because I believe it is a simplistic description of many peace activists who oppose or condemn specific Israeli actions. There are many liberal peace activists in many countries (including Israel) who are neither ‘anti-Israel’ nor ‘pro-Palestinian.’ They simply note the current state of existence is obscene. Which, regardless of whom one chooses to blame, it is.

There are people on the left (especially in Europe, but also in the US) who do equate Israel with European colonialism and blame Israel very strongly and I will not deny that. There view is equally simplistic.

There are an immense number of cultural, ethnic, historical, and religious points on which the current conflict turns or the have influenced the conflict in the past. The rise of the Fatah party to international prominence was directly a result of the Cold War, as a Palestinian Communists combined Communist liberation politics with existing racial tensions. Hamas arose out of the post-Cold War reaction against secularism, though the seeds of such reaction have been there since the Secular Pan-Arabists of the 1950s first decided to modernize and Westernize the nations of Egypt, Syria, and Iraq with varying and questionable success. Conflicts between Arabs are central as well. The refugee camps took the form we now recognize and condemn when large numbers of Palestinians were expelled from Jordan and Syria for the assassination of King Abdullah I of Jordan and Yasser Arafat’s attempt to overthrow the Syrian government and establish a socialist state. Anti-Semitism, and equal prejudice against Muslims on the other side of the argument, is frequently very difficult to distill from more legitimate moral convictions. Mike Huckabbe made the moronic argument that all the Palestinians should go someplace else, as if that would solve the problem… it’s part of why there is a problem.

‘Pro-Israel’ and ‘pro-Palestinian’ are simply the wrong prisms with which to view the conflict. Both sides have been terribly wrong and terribly justified; both sides have great evil and suffered great evil. Such is the nature, unfortunately, of conflict. One can argue, with some legitimacy, that the Israelis have made a greater attempt to resolve the conflict than the Palestinians. One can also argue that the Palestinians have suffered far more than the Israelis (purely in the prism of the Israeli-Arab conflict) and are more in need of outside support in order to advocate for their side of any negotiation. One can make the argument that much of the Palestinian suffering was the result of Palestinian (and Arab) choices, but today’s Palestinians did not make those choices. They simply live with the consequences. Likewise, today’s Israelis (with some notable exceptions) did not commit the crimes of 1948… yet they also live with the consequences. In the big picture, everyone is to blame. In microcosm of today’s conflict, very few people are to blame but a great many people suffer for their decisions.

From the viewpoint of modern, Western morality there is only one ‘just’ solution. This would be a single, democratic state in which Israelis/Palestinians would be one citizenry of one country regardless of ethnicity or religion. In point of fact, this is probably not possible in the foreseeable future. Yet there are Arab, Muslim Israelis (most notably the Druze) who are entirely Israeli and identify more with Jewish Israelis and Arab Christians than with their fellow Muslims. So such a resolution may, ultimately, be possible.

It is far more likely that any resolution would require separate national identities. Not because this is moral or just. It is not. Rather, it may simply be the only way to resolve the problem. Each state would have to recognize the citizenship rights of its minority population and protect their safety.

Here we have the real bar to peace, as far as negotiations go. Jewish settlers in the West Bank are unwilling to become citizens of ‘Palestine’ rather than Israel, yet they are unwilling to leave the West Bank. Palestinian leadership, regardless of its political bent (from Fatah to supposed pacifists), cling to a 19th century definition of nationalism that refuses to recognize the citizenship rights of non-Arabs. This does not just include Jewish settlers, but also Armenian and Greek Christians who have lived in Palestine for as long Jews or Muslims. Hamas would also reduce Arab Christians, who are traditionally the majority religion among Palestinians in the West Bank and in ‘Diaspora’, into second class citizens under the strict dictates of Sharia law. Conservative Isaeli leadership has become increasingly militant and increasingly, let’s be honest, racist. Avigdor Lieberman is singled out most often, but anyone who really believes Benjamin Netanyahu is any less racist than Lieberman has not paid close attention to Netanyahu. Most Israelis, even most moderates, are unwilling to see large numbers of Arab citizens join the Israeli state as Fatah’s ‘right of return’ demand would require Israel to allow.

The worst part of all of this is that, on both sides of the conflict, we now have both Israelis and Palestinians less motivated to find an end to the conflict because they have grown up with the conflict being status quo. It is all ‘normal’ to them and they are not truly conscious of how horrible it all really is.

The question of ‘Pro-Israel’ and ‘Pro-Palestinian’ is simply a symptom of the conflict itself, as the larger world outside Israel/Palestine is drawn into the conflict. The paranoid and sometimes stupid military decisions made by the Israeli government tempt us to forget the exceptionally difficult position in which they find themselves. The suffering of the Palestinians tempts us to forget that Arab and Palestinian leadership is as much to blame for Palestinian suffering as evil Israeli oppression. Yet the Western ethos of the Israeli government frequently leads many to forget that the Israeli government has actively thrown a match onto troubled gasoline when it could least afford to do so. The actions of zealous Palestinian leaders tempts us to forget that there are quite a lot of Palestinian people with little-to-no direct personal investment in the conflict who are genuinely suffering.

I am trying to be as neutral as possible, but I have frequently been criticized as heartlessly pro-Israel by one side and naively pro-Palestinian by the other. There is probably some truth to both charges… I am somewhat heartless about the suffering of the Palestinians as a justification for their behavior and somewhat naive about the proper behavior I feel should be expected from the Israelis.

Peace is only possible if both sides want to make peace and can come to agreement. The Israelis want peace, under conditions favorable to them, and aren’t willing to go beyond a certain point. They are simply too afraid of the consequences of a real and equitable settlement with the Palestinians. The ‘pacifist’ movement in Palestinian politics does not see ‘peace’ as a goal, but rather sees pacifism as a tactic by which to achieve victory. Their goals and rhetoric are indistinguishable from those of Fatah or Hamas, in terms of the desire to see a single, Arab Palestine in which any Jews or Christians are safely Arab and Europeans, Armenians, and Greeks all ‘go home.’

Until both sides make a fundamental change in their thinking, nothing is likely to change in a meaningful way for many years. The fact that the Israelis are ‘more flexible’ than the Palestinians is ultimately meaningless when one considers their flexibility is limited by their ability to maintain the superiority they believe necessary for their safety. Their attitude is no more conducive to true peace than that of the Palestinians. Even if the Palestinians completely changed their attitude and were willing to negotiate for real co-existence, the present Israeli position would prevent it from succeeding.

Yet one can NOT get away from the fact that the Palestinian leadership is entirely opposed to the idea of real co-existence. It is the simple fact. Peace is another tactic in the conflict. The fact that their position is entirely opposed to real co-existence, however, is as meaningless as the limited definition of peace the Israeli leadership is willing to make. Nothing will happen unless both sides change their thinking, their prejudices, and their outlook on their entire conflict.

Nothing illustrates this more clearly than the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, by an Israeli, for simply agreeing to peace with the Palestinians in mere principle. It is mirrored by the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat the previous decade, and the assassination of King Abdullah I of Jordan a few decades before that, for simply agree to peace with the Israelis in mere principle.

Both sides are to blame, and both sides deserve condemnation for their share in the whole mess. Today’s Israelis have a right to self-identify as a nation and live in peace and so do today’s Palestinians. Neither side is willing to fully recognize the rights of the other. That is the simple fact.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

January 11, 2010 at 8:44 pm

If that makes me a bad reviewer, so be it.

I’ve never wanted to get a book more after reading a review!

Seriously, I’m heading to the shop as soon as I finish at work – and I hadn’t been planning to before!

And because I love political pissing contests on the internets…

What about the 34 crew members of the USS Liberty, June 8, 1967? That was no accident.
Never, ever forget….

Unless of course we’re talking about American War Crimes/Accidents and then it’s deny, deny, deny, deny, sorry, forget, forget, forget, forget’.

It’s a simple situation; Israel and the Palestinians have both been wrong in the way they have handled matters. However, Israelis have been targeting terrorists while Palestinians have been taught to target ANY Israeli, including civilians. From Yasser Arafat to Hamas, unfortunately, the Palestinians have had corrupt leaders who were not willing to gain land for peace. It took Arafat decades to even recognize Israel’s right to exist and then when former Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Arafat 90+% of ALL Palestinian lands, he rejected the idea and called on his people to start a mass rebellion (intifada).

Without power, Mahmoud Abbas (Arafat’s successor) was unable to control terrorists and was therefore sidewapped by the promising, conniving terrorist group, Hamas, who refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist and continues wreaking terrorism.

Israel is willing and ready to make peace — but with whom? Egypt’s former President Sadat sat down and accepted fair terms, as did Jordan’s President Hossein.

Terrorism must stop and corrupt terrorist leaders must be replaced with functioning, more liberal leaders.

Let’s pray for peace because BOTH the Israelis and Palestinians deserve their own land and to live in harmony as they relatively did before World War Two.

[...] or website here and there. That said, I have been seeing his latest, Footnotes in Gaza, praised far and wide throughout the internet, in both long-form reviews and in a plethora of 2009 best-of lists- so [...]

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