web stats

CSBG Archive

She Has No Head! – Sarah Glidden’s How To Understand Israel In 60 Days Or Less

How To Understand Israel In 60 Days Or Less.  Sarah Glidden.  Clem Robins (letters). DC/Vertigo. Full Color, Hardcover, 208 pages. $24.99.

Godless heathen that I am, Sarah Glidden’s How To Understand Israel In 60 Days Or Less appealed greatly, because despite being an aforementioned godless heathen, I definitely WANT to understand Israel, and I think as an atheist I’m sometimes at an even bigger disadvantage than those that have a better understanding and perhaps relation to or with religion and the conflicts that sometimes come with it.  Not only that, but as someone with no real knowledge of her genealogy beyond “we come from a people that burn easily in the sun and are not meant to be out in it” I don’t know much about where/who/what I come from.  My mother is adopted and so we know little from her side of the family, and my father (an only child), whether out of sensitivity and solidarity with my mother, or just plain old lack of interest, has never showed much interest in tracking down his family tree either – as such, I have no ties to anything remotely resembling a homeland.  Definitely there is nobody likely to pay for me to go on a birthright tour should I find a homeland interested in having me.  Regardless I find myself very interested in Glidden’s search for self and a more definitive truth as explored in her book.

But Glidden’s book (which already won her a 2008 Ignatz award for Promising New Talent when in its self-published incarnation) is also a good fit for me because it approaches a touchy and loaded subject with logic and rational critical thinking, but ultimately is not afraid to also get caught up in emotion when necessary.  Glidden approaches her subject as a Jew, but not a religious one, as someone emotional and concerned about the world and seeking her place in it, but skeptical of anything resembling indoctrination or propaganda.  Glidden was the prefect narrator for me, because she never felt like she was preaching, in fact she out right resisted what she was being told the same way that I resisted it here and would resist it in her shoes.  She resisted it because sometimes resisting is the only way to find truth – subjective though it usually is – but she also seemed to realize along the way that sometimes giving in can help you find truth too.  That thinking things through is never wrong, but that feeling things isn’t wrong either.  That there is certainly room for both, and that perhaps that’s the only way to see our way through.

The actual story, part memoir, part travelogue details Glidden’s Birthright Tour to Israel in 2007.  Glidden, a liberal Jew that doesn’t believe in God, is both excited and skeptical about the trip.  Full of wonder and anticipation about all she is about to experience, but wary that she will be getting a balanced reality when it comes to the past, present, and future of Israel.  Considering the trip is paid for entirely by the state of Israel, which clearly has a stake in which side Glidden (and others) ends up on, her hesitation about indoctrinations is not unwarranted.  For what it’s worth, I found Glidden’s account wonderfully balanced and while never illogical, full of poignant emotional moments that moved even my cold heathen heart.  I suppose I was moved mostly because it felt honest.  I believed both what Glidden experienced, what she resisted, what she embraced, and ultimately what she took away from it.  Her conflict, both internal and external, felt real and believable to me. Despite our differences (and perhaps in part because of our similarities – young progressive liberal artistic women living in NYC that don’t believe in God – and I use the words young and artistic extremely loosely in my case) I found myself relating to Glidden easily and feeling similar conflicts in myself as I tracked her physical and emotional journey.

The writing is simple and utilitarian, which though it doesn’t sound like it, is a compliment.  Flowery language or the overly poetic would be out of place here. Instead Glidden works in a conversational narration style that is easy to follow and comfortably relatable. You can hear Glidden’s voice clearly throughout, and it’s a voice worth listening to – full of insight and also prejudice as Glidden struggles with her own fight between a surging emotional connection to Israel and the Jewish people and her intellectual beliefs and sympathy for the Palestinians.  Had Glidden been any less of a narrator, and I’ll just say it – any less of a person – this book easily could have plunged into something far less nuanced and insightful, as it is, it’s quite wonderful.  I certainly wish my news was this balanced and well-considered.

Story continues below

The art is lovely.  It’s a simplified line work style – a nice linge claire look that’s well suited to the story and to the exquisite layered watercolors that Glidden provides.  The book is subtly beautiful which is perfectly fitting for the tone of the book.  In fact, anything more detailed or bold I think would be too gaudy for the story Glidden is telling and might actually take away from the larger messages throughout her book.  Glidden sticks to a rather traditional three tier panel layout, and frequently a traditional nine panel per page layout and I think it’s a good choice in that it allows the story to take the lead and the art to follow in a functional way, never overpowering the story.  Although the work is subtle throughout, Glidden also knows when to pare down even further for smaller scenes and when to let loose on beautiful landscapes, city views, and landmarks where she needs to convey the vastness and importance of what we’re seeing…to better see through her eyes and thus to better experience her emotional and conflicting journey.  This was a favorite emotional moment for me:

Like Glidden, and unlike apparently the “majority of the United States” I find myself highly conflicted and emotional when it comes to the specific ins and outs of Palestinians and Israelis.  I can’t help but sympathize with both parties, and wish there was a simple answer.  If you’re looking for one in Glidden’s book because of the title you’ll be sorely disappointed because there is no answer, which is of course to be expected.  There isn’t now and likely never will be an answer to this ongoing question of Israel and I knew this going in, but I couldn’t help hoping for a moment in which all would be revealed like the man behind the curtain in OZ.

*sorry for the blur and trim on the right side - tough pages to scan

But I suppose what is revealed is hope.  The hope that others could read this book and come to some better understanding the same way that Glidden did thanks to her trip. The conflict within Glidden to both have that elusive feeling of wanting so much to belong to something – in this case to a rich culture and people – and her insistence on seeing things clearly and rationally without the rose colored glasses is palpable.  Even without any of those emotional ties to the country and land and people I could feel it, almost taste how nice it would be to be a part of something so unique and special and powerful.  Ultimately, Glidden – the intellectual, the skeptic – was able to see that there was more than just her specific viewpoint and that others opinions were perhaps more valid than she might have previously assumed, but she never lost sight of what was important to her and in the end she emerges from her experience neither brainwashed nor unaffected.  She emerges from her experience to give us this wonderful work – a work that can stand in for people like me who are unlikely to ever visit Israel period – and certainly not on a Birthright Tour.

After reading Glidden’s book do I ACTUALLY understand Israel?  No, probably not, I may spend the rest of my life not understanding it, but I did learn a lot that I didn’t know and perhaps more importantly I was moved repeatedly and forced to examine long held and perhaps unconsidered views, which is more than most of the best books do.  I think the best bit of wisdom I came away from in Glidden’s book, was from her experience listening to the Bereaved Family Forum, and the personal tragedies faced by both a Palestinian woman and an Israeli man.  Both having lost loved ones to violence relating directly to the conflict, the woman suggested that they leave their experiences in Israel and declare themselves not Pro-Palestine or Pro-Israel, but pro-peace, and while the normal cynical Kelly would be likely to guffaw at such an unrealistic naive hippy-ish statement…coming from a real victim suffering from a situation I can barely begin to comprehend…I have to say, it touched me.  It moved me to want to declare myself pro-peace if ever asked…and maybe more.  And I hope I will.

How To Understand Israel In 60 Days Or Less by Sarah Glidden released on November 3rd, 2010 by Vertigo is available in comic and book stores everywhere, as well as online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and others.


[…] New She Has No Head! is up – a review of Sarah Glidden’s How To Understand Israel In 60 Days Or Less.  Check it out! […]

As a community-organizer who focuses on the impact art can have as a vehicle for promoting cross-cultural understanding, I think it’s wonderful to see this exploration of “going back to the homeland” in a graphic novel presentation. There seems to be a backlash against media stories that suggest Israel could do better (a little less on the genocide approach to palestinians would be great) in its relations to the people of Palestine, but I always find it good when Israelis (or people of Jewish descent) honestly reflect on Israel’s relation to Palestine from a human-to-human connection. I would love to read this and learn more about her perspectives after traveling to Israel. Thanks for letting me know about this artist, Kelly :)

@Keegan: Your comment is great. No surprise really there – but I think this book would be ideal for you – your comment about human to human connection rather than politics is a lot of what I felt this book was about.

Also this will definitely be one of the books offered in Ladies Comics Project: Phase II…so when I send out that list of books email…get on it fast if you want it! ;)

If the Israelis wanted to inflict a “genocide” on the Palestinians, they (the Palestinians) would have been dead and gone 50 years ago. Say what you want about the merits of this particular point or that particular point, but to casually accuse the Israelis of attempting to destroy the Palestinians when it would have been so easy and so beneficial to the security of the Israelis to have done so decades ago, and with no acknowledgement at all of the risks the Israelis incur decade after decade by trying to find peaceful solutions with their neighbors, is both ignorant and extremely offensive. Jews know what a genocide is. Show me when and where the Israelis have murdered 1/3 of the Palestinians living on the face of the earth. Oh yeah, that’s right, it never happened. In fact, the Israelis have been sacrificing and putting themselves at risk for over 60 years trying to find a peaceful way to live in that land.

I really really really want to read this but I can’t afford it at the moment and can’t find a library that has stocked it yet.

This does sound like a great book.

It looks like the political arguments have already started here in the comments.

Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin

November 22, 2010 at 5:18 pm

@Craig B.

Israeli soldiers fill a house with Palestinians and then burn it down to the ground. How do you call that? You don’t think that’s genocide?

I won’t be ignorant. I know that Palestinians have also done terrible things. Their suicide bombers have killed many innocent people. But, when provoked, Israeli soldiers have also done some really terrible things out of revenge. It’s an endless circle of violence.

Honestly, as I see it, the only way out of this one is a joint Israeli-Palestinian state. Muslims, Jews and Christians have coexisted there for centuries. Why not now?

Kelly, I’m sorry. I know a comic book blog isn’t a place for conversations like these, but I needed to respond. I love your review and I find the book really interesting. I’ll certainly give it a read.

@ Craig

Keegan’s accusation of genocide may err on the side of hyperbole, but Theodore Herzl’s work points to the adoption of a racist Western hierarchy in its definition of a “people”. The man thought Eastern Jews were primitives, he couldn’t be bothered to see Palestinians as people at all (not that he was alone in the Arab world either). I’ve read excerpts from the book at my shop, but I’d be curious to know if Sarah spent her entire time in Birthright, or if she did anything like Birthright Unplugged or went into Gaza or the West Bank at all. I don’t think you can fully understand the conflict if you only ever hear Israel’s side no matter how skeptical you may be, and it has often bothered me that only real comics work that offers that perspective is Sacco’s Palestine as his approach to journalism strikes me as too self involved. I was also going to say that being an atheist is necessarily a disadvantage in understanding Israel as it started as a very secular movement, and while there is a lot of hope and pride in its narrative there’s also a cynicism there too. To an American Jew in diaspora, and all that comes along with it, it’s continued appeal to religion in issues of settlements seems to exemplify this strange disparity.

That should read *only real comics work that offers an alternative perspective*

I also like how her lines remind me of a looser Rutu Modan, and her watercolors impart such a sense of place, texture, and atmosphere so elegantly.

This isn’t the place for an extended discussion about the historical record or debating the best solution the problems of a particular corner of the world, but I suggest that Akay and Keegan familiarize themselves with the both the historical record and the actual meaning of the word “genocide” (it’s a legal term with a very precise definition) before making accusations.

I prefer to imagine that Akay and Keegan are people of sincere moral convictions, so I trust they will do so and will not misspeak on the matter again.

As to Akay’s question:

as I see it, the only way out of this one is a joint Israeli-Palestinian state. Muslims, Jews and Christians have coexisted there for centuries. Why not now?

There has never been a jointly run state and coexistence has never been without tensions. Though to Israel’s credit, Muslims and Christians are free to practice their faiths without interference, have the right to vote, and serve in government. This does not mean Israel should not be criticized ever: it merely means that it’s important to get one’s facts right before launching a criticism.

I suggest everyone read this book. Immediately.

@ Julian: Glidden does spend some time on her own outside of the Birthright Tour.

@Akaky: “Israeli soldiers fill a house with Palestinians and then burn it down to the ground. How do you call that? You don’t think that’s genocide?”

It’s called mass murder and a war crime – but it’s not Genocide by even the loosest definition.

Get over your anti-semitism – perhaps by visiting a place where genocide WAS being perpetrated on Muslims, such as the former Yugoslavia.

I wonder if things had come out any different, had the proto-Israelis taken the Palestinians under their arm, and took Jordan for them – after all, JORDAN was meant to be the Palestinian homeland, but got co-opted by the Hashemite royal family. Ironically, Jordan is one of the more tolerant nations in the area – except to the Palestinians who by all rights should be citizens there.

The Israelis, Palestinians, and Lebanese would be much better off, and a hell of a lot closer to peace, if the Syrians, Iranians and Arabs would stay the hell out of the Mediterranean coast’s politics, instead of using the Palestinians as pawns in their own bigotry against the Jews (and against the Chrstians in Lebanon, to an extent).

After all, it’s not like Israel’s offering tens of thousands of dollars to the families of poor Iranians or Saudi subjects, if they go kill themselves attacking innocent civilians.

Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin

November 22, 2010 at 9:49 pm

“It’s called mass murder and a war crime – but it’s not Genocide by even the loosest definition.

Get over your anti-semitism – perhaps by visiting a place where genocide WAS being perpetrated on Muslims, such as the former Yugoslavia.”

I usually use the word “genocide” instead of “mass murder”. Whether it’s an error on my part is open to debate. But, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does seem to be ethnically, racially and religiously driven, which, one way or the other, tends to mark the atrocities committed with a stigma of genocide.

I’m not sure if the “anti-semitism” label was meant for me. I apologize if I sounded that way, it most certainly wasn’t my intention. I tried to view the matters objectively. Any loss of life saddens me. It frustrates me to see what we are capable of doing to our fellow man under the mask and excuse of such vague terms as “race”, “nation”, “religion”, “territory”, “money” or “power”. Somehow, the idealistic world of Star Trek always seems to be out of reach.

Also, I am well aware of the wars and killings that went down in former Yugoslavia. Believe me, genocide wasn’t perpetrated only on Muslims.

To Basara– I agree with much of what you said. However, I was under the impression that Jordan did grant citizenship to the Palestinians that live there, and that it is the only Arab country to do so.

And one more thing, Akaky – can you give some historical citation to your claim that Israeli soldiers filled a house with Palestinians and burnt it to the ground? Something I could check in the records of a major, reputable news source? Because I don’t recall hearing of anything like that, and I’m pretty sure that would have been front page news and the subject of multiple U.N. sanctions motions for months if that had happened.

What is actual, verifiable fact is that the Palestinians in Gaza continue to launch missiles at Israelis living within the internationally-recognized borders of Israel proper, and that terrorists regularly attacked buses and restaurants with the expressed purpose of killing and wounding as many civilian men, women and children as possible.

Didn’t take long for the antisemitism accusations to start here. What’s great about a book like this that it tries to approach the Israeli question critically, something that is extremely difficult to do in America without being labeled antisemitic. In other words, Basara, you’re a jerk.

I don’t think it should be too controversial, though sadly it is, that there was a concerted effort to remove Palestinians from their homes or kill them by both State actors and extra-state militia in Israel’s early history. Call that genocide or don’t. The term is so loaded corrupted, and zealously protected as a political tool, particularly by Israel and its supporters that I’d rather it not be used in these kind of discussions.

To anyone that is interested in this topic, I recommend Joe Sacco’s “Palestine” and Robert Fisk’s “The Great War for Civilisation.” Sacco’s work is, to my mind, the best graphic journalism in the history of comics. Fisk’s book is an intimidating tome going beyond the Israel/Palestine question and examining conflicts across the wider middle east over Fisk’s career. It is absolutely fantastic and I cannot recommend it enough.

@ Julian

Sacco’s personalized approach to Journalism is what I love about his work. Often, the only way to approach anything close to truth is to focus closely on individual experience. This is particularly so when the official narrative of the subject matter is so fraught with political b.s. and shoddy or biased journalism, as is the case with Isreal and the problems in what was Yugoslavia (Safe Area Gorazde).


As mentioned: “Genocide” is a very precisely defined term under international law.

“acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”

There is a certain threshold that must be crossed in terms of evidence before legal experts or social scientists use the word. As such, no one credible in either the legal community or the social science research community has ever accused Israel of such a thing. We don’t even have evidence of genocidal rhetoric from the Israeli government– which is one of the first things that human rights watchdogs look for. In fact, up until the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, Israel had been footing the bill for social services in the Gaza and West Bank since 1967– not really what genocide researchers look for.

We do however, have many instances of genocidal rhetoric by the governments of predominantly Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa, and Iran, coupled with actual ethnic cleansings of the respective Jewish populations of those countries. In fact, the best documented genocide in the mostly Arab middle east has nothing to do with the Arab-Israeli conflict: It was the Iraqi genocide of Kurds during the 1980s.

In short, genocide is a very serious charge, and must be backed up with evidence. False accusations of genocide are odious and they become particularly odious when leveled at a population that has recently gone through the experience of genocide. Basara549 is perfectly justified to suspect antisemitism at work (maybe not with anyone directly involved in this conversation– but perhaps in the authors whom some rely on as sources.)

I agree that genocide is not a constructive definition of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, but saying

What is actual, verifiable fact is that the Palestinians in Gaza continue to launch missiles at Israelis living within the internationally-recognized borders of Israel proper, and that terrorists regularly attacked buses and restaurants with the expressed purpose of killing and wounding as many civilian men, women and children as possible.

Ignores that the IDF is the authority for settlement construction in the West Bank and Gaza.

Thank you, Kelly, for reviewing this book and bringing it to our attention.

To various posters — this is not the place to start having historical debates and arguments.

Instead, read the book, incorporate it (and others) into your thoughts and let’s move forward to seeking peace and tolerance. The biggest obstacle is people’s inclination to look for vengeance and/or allocate blame. I think we can safely stipulate that parties on both sides have done terrible things — it does not matter who did it first or who may be more culpable. We have to move beyond that.

I may be naive — but it takes more courage to extend a hand in peace than to hurl a weapon. When enough people reject the violence/hate, progress will come.

Look, I understand that this is a comics forum, not a political one, but if someone casually makes a false and harmful statement, I’m not going to just ignore it. Say what you will about the Israeli government, but stick to the facts. When a person throws around the term “genocide” in circumstances where it does not apply and in a way that is intended to inflame and incite hatred, I’m going to confront that statement.

And Julian, if the Palestinians want a halt to Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank (it already stopped in Gaza several years ago when Israel voluntarily pulled out its settlers and settlements), they have but to sit down and negotiate a lasting peace agreement with Israel, instead of walking away from the negotiations after having wasted 9 of the 10 months of the prior settlement freeze.

I was hoping to get this book through an inter-library loan, but alas, though copies are out there, they are not available for lending. Perhaps it’s too soon. (This is how I was able to read I Kill Giants. :) ) But I’ll definitely keep an eye out for it.

Ignores that the IDF is the authority for settlement construction in the West Bank and Gaza.


There are no Israeli settlements in Gaza. Zilch. The only Israeli citizen in Gaza is Giliad Shalit, who is a prisoner held by Hamas.

IDF has nothing to do with constructing settlements anywhere. They are a military force.

This isn’t a place for a political debate, but it’s also not the place for representing things that aren’t true and representing them as facts.

Go read Sarah Glidden’s book and and form an opinion on the book.

Excuse me, major misspeak. I got Gaza and the Golan Heights mixed up. I apologize for such a gross misstatement. I have every intention of reading Glidden’s book as what I have read has struck me pretty hard.

There are so many things that I would like to say about this situation and the politics at work in Palestine/Israel.
In the past I would have spoken my mind. Unfortunately, I live in Canada and realize I better stay quiet. See, in Canada our federal government is drafting new legislation that will make any criticism of Israel or its army legally defined as Anti-Semitism. This means that if I say anything negative about anything Israel ever does, in Gaza, Palestine Lebanon, Syria, Iran or WHATEVER I will be guilty of hate speech.
So I should probably take the opportunity to go on the record and say sorry if my criticism of the IDF, the occupation of Palestine, political Zionism per se, the attackers of the USS Liberty or ANY OTHER ISRAELI EVER may have caused any offense and may have made me appear in any way anti-semitic.
Oh, and just in case, maybe I should also apologize for sounding anti-white when I talked about South African Apartheid, for appearing anti-german when I discussed the holocaust and the Third Reich pe se, and, yeah, sorry to any Mongolians I may have inadvertedly offended when I was so intolerant about the limited niceties of Genghis Khan and his fellows.

I sincerely hope this in no way sounded sarcastic because they can probably add a second count to the charge.

Really, can’t we just talk about


It’s not criticism that’s the problem, it’s deliberate misstatements of fact meant to inflame and mislead that’s the problem,compounded by your inability to tell the difference between the two.

And it’s is still amazing to me that it’s people who refuse to stick to the facts and rational argument who complain that there are “not permitted” to engage in a serious discussion.

No, I was being sarcastic: it doesn’t amaze me at all; It’s a typical rhetorical strategy of people incapable of honest debate.


Thank you for your commitment to verifiable facts over untruth.

Thank you for alerting me as to my apparent inability, Ian. You must be a truly gifted psychic.
Do you do parties?

And how can there be ANY debate in a society where any dissenting opinion is automatically judged as hate speech?

How about everybody calms down a notch?

[…] Why I’m loving her work right now: I’ve only known about Glidden since November when I read her Vertigo book How To Understand Israel in 60 Days Or Less, but it left a distinctive impression, and was without a doubt one of the best books I’d read in this year.  Interesting, beautifully illustrated and unafraid of asking the complicated and tough questions, Glidden’s book impacted me both intellectually and emotionally and left me feeling changed.  While I still don’t understand Israel or have any miraculous answers to the problems that plague it, I was changed by her book, and I can say that about precious few comics I read these days.  You can read a more detailed review and see more sample pages here. […]

You’re all idiots.

I’ll just quote from a brave activist and thinker, Abraham Serfat:

“Zionism is above all a racist ideology. It is the Jewish reversal of Hitlerism… It proclaims the state of Israel ‘Jewish above everything’, just as Hitler proclaimed an Aryan Germany”.

Any defense of Zionism, whether under a liberal or fanatical narrative, is a defense of racism and colonialism.

This, ultimately, is a comic book that tried to deal with the internal struggle of an “atheist Jew” (whatever that means) of a nation-state thats foundations are based on a Euro-centric and ethno-national grounds.

Let’s be absolutely clear here about what we are talking about. Please.

“Arguing from facts” does not mean simply quoting slogans, Anti-Zionist. It’s particularly telling that you can be dismissive of the author for identifying as an “atheist Jew” since it doesn’t fit into your simplistic schema. Also telling is your need to post “you’re all idiots” to a discussion thread that has been quiet for weeks.

The world (and even this particular conflict) is more complex than a slogan. Kudos to those who acknowledge the complexity: you’re the ones most likely to see how to arrive at a peaceful solution.

Oh, please. My crude ways does not mean I’m not interested in a peaceful solution. On the contrary, I dream of a peaceful transformation of this ethno-national racist state into a democratic single state for all parties.

Why I find so pathetic in the above argument is this notion of equality of suffering between the Israelis and Palestinians. Additionally, considering Zionism as a racist and colonial ideology is hardly a slogan. One has only to read the early zionists literature and diaries, they were hilariously blunt about that their project was a colonial one and how they viewed the indigenous population as inferior.

I’m very well aware of the complexities of the world, sir. In fact, I remember Afrikaners arguing that apartheid south Africa was a “complex issue”, as if somehow that justified what they did.

You want to understand Israel ?

It’s quiet simple really: Europeans horrifically slaughtered other Europeans and then decided that the best thing to do, rather than deal with the continent’s antisemitism, was to force an indigenous population in the West Asian region to lose their land…and the rest, of course, is history.

Of course as Americans, you aren’t told that, nor are you aware that your own tax dollars go to arm this state and fund it’s colonial building in the leftover crumbs allocated for the Palestinians…heh, yes a comic book about Birthright and a stroll to see some Palestinians will clearly create awareness of the issues at hand.

I’ll let Mr. Falk do the talking:


And yes, I don’t bye this atheist Jew nonsense. Especially in this day and age, where blood lines are mixed and racial purity is nonsense. Ironically, studies have shown that the Palestinians genetically are the descendants of the biblical Israelities…how’s that for complexity ?

I love how the moderator deleted my (albeit long-winded) reply, good show CBR.

I’ll try again: http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2010/12/201012188187905194.html

Oh and don’t forget, your tax dollars go to funding the colonies in the West Bank and the Israeli Military. tia.

google it.

Of course, Anti-Zionist. You ignore the other complexities when they don’t serve your claims. Your crudities are to justify your misrepresentation of the historical record.

Richard Falk is an apologist for Hamas’ human rights abuses towards women and religious minorities amongst the Palestinians as well as it’s calls for genocide against Jews. He’s hardly an advocate for the democracy you claim to favor. The 1948 UN Partition plan also provided a homeland for Palestine. It was Jordan’s annexation of the West Bank and Egypt’s of Gaza that prevented this from becoming a reality.

Based on genetic studies all modern Jewish groups are also descended from the Biblical Israelites and half of modern Israeli Jews are descended from populations that never left the Middle East region. But what these genetic studies demonstrate is that the Jews– even the Jews of Western Europe are indigenous to the Levant. In fact, it’s well known that Jews remained in the majority in this strip of land well until the Arabian invasions– but there has always been a Jewish presence.

These Israelis also fought a anti-colonial struggle against the European powers. Furthermore, this half of the Israeli population either always lived in the region of modern day Israel and Palestine, or were forced out of other Middle Eastern countries under threat of violence.

Anyway, have you read the book? How does it stand up as a graphic novel?

Ah, my mistake…paranoia and all.

But I do want to add one final thing, which, at least to me, is striking:

“When I came here I wanted to receive confirmation of the fact that Israel is the bad guy in the story. I wanted to know that I could remove it from my life once and for all,” her comic incarnation confesses in the book, under the monument built by sculptor Yigal Tumarkin in Rabin Square, to one of the Israelis accompanying the group. “But now I don’t know any more. Suddenly I understand why Israel did some of the things it did. You’re good people. At least some of you. Or maybe I’m simply getting brainwashed here, just as everyone warned me would happen!”

To me this is a significant moment, because, as any complex human being can fathom, there will always be a justification for an act. Do you honestly think that the Nazis, or the Afrikaners, or the KKK did what they did because they were “bad people”!

In their rationale, they perceived their actions as righteous, as self-defence, as (insert your other justification). That is a human act, which should not surprise anyone. However, and this is the key here, even an inkling of understanding does not justify what was done (and continues to be done).

What troubles me most about this work, which I admit is far better than most comics out there, is its self-indulgence. It’s unawareness of the main character’s (the author, the artist) position of privilege. She can afford to experience shame, guilt, and internal conflict and just fly away. The Israelis have the leisure to go on vacations, buy homes, live normal lives – which, the Palestinians under occupation in West Bank, or blockade in Gaza, or living in absolute misery in the refugee camps surrounding the area do not have.

That is ultimately the inherent problem of this work. And that is why I think this discussion’s above were idiotic. And idiotic not in the sense of mental retardation, but in the sense of not comprehending the aspect of “power” that underlines this work. I’ll even give you a comic analogy, not a perfect one, but consider Tintin in Congo – particularly, how Herge was influence by the colonist mentality of the time, which he later admitted too.

Glidden’s work here follows the same pattern, although in a much more liberal and kinder manner.

Ian you appear to neglect the large numbers of Ashkenazi Jews who are descendants of the vast Khazar empire, a Eurasian people with no connection to the Holy Land. They converted their entire empire to Judaism in the middle ages to avoid converting to Islam or Christianity, thereby avoiding pissing off their Christian and Muslim neighbours, respectively. With the decline of their empire they drifted westward and established large Jewish populations in Russia, Poland, etc.
Jews they may be, but not Hebrews. How is their claim to this land greater than that of its indigineous people?

“The 1948 UN Partition plan also provided a homeland for Palestine. It was Jordan’s annexation of the West Bank and Egypt’s of Gaza that prevented this from becoming a reality.”

Actually, it was the 1947 Partition Plan, which if you’ve even read the document clearly states that nothing should be done to affect the rights of the people in the areas. What you seem to be forgetting, is the process of ethnic cleansing that began from 1947, prior to the Arab response in May, than ended the partition plan.

What you also fail to mention, is that the partition plan does not account to the sentiments of the native population (in that being the majority, they were allocated a minority of land and the Zionist ownership was only less than 10% – yet they were given over 50% of the land). Secondly, it was the Israelis, from 1948-1950, that denied the Palestinians the ability to return to their homes – not the Jordanians – and the Israelis continue to do so.

Also, what you fail to mention, which Joel Kovel’s Overcoming Zionism touches on, is that the first opposer of European Zionism were Jews living in Palestine.

You also fail to mention that Arab Jews did not leave at 1948, they stayed in Arab countries throughout the 20th century – eventually leaving when the situation with Israel got worse, and the Arabs failed to articulate clearly the difference between Zionism and Judaism (two completely different philosophies).

And, if you’ve read the works of Arab Jews (which I have) they were not supportive of Zionism, which they viewed as a European action – hence the quote above by Abraham Serfat – a Moroccan Jew, a leftist, who was fought against colonialism, Zionism, and the Moroccan dictatorship.

Zionists were colonists, not anti-colonists. Let’s be clear here, they even said so. And in fact, the relationship with the colonial powers, particularly the British, is undeniable. Yes, certain Zionist groups committed terrorism, but a lot of them lobbied the British to help them (which the Colonial power did) – meanwhile, the Arabs were the “sand niggers”, the other, ignored, vilified, and dehumanized.

“Richard Falk is an apologist for Hamas’ human rights abuses towards women and religious minorities amongst the Palestinians as well as it’s calls for genocide against Jews.”

Ah, this is so problematic in a number of ways:
1) Falk does not apologize for any human rights abuse
2) Hamas’s alleged abuse towards women is: a) questionable, i agree, but no worse than the abuses of Israeli women within Israeli society, or the abuse of Palestinian women by the Israeli occupation (i.e. forcing women to give birth on the street, because of checkpoints).
3)Religious minorities, the Christians, are actually better off and have voted for Hamas in the elections in 2006. If we are to compare the experience of religious minorities under Hamas to those under Israel, its quite striking.
4) Although, I will not dispute that Hamas’s rhetoric has been fucked up. They have been clear that their fight is with Zionism and not Judaism. Secondly, Hamas’s over-the-top rhetoric is akin to the Black Panther rhetoric in regards to white people.

Also, If you actually read the modern studies, including Shlomo Sands “The Manufacturing of the Jewish People”, a best seller in Israel, you notion of Jewish continuity in genetics does not hold. European, and in extension American Jews, are actually far, far beyond the spectrum of Semitism. And, I might add, this assumption that all Jews are similar is “simplistic schema”. A Jew from India is culturally, socially, political different from a Jew from Hungry.

The world, after all, is much more complex than the usual Zionist mythologies.

Anyways, as a graphic novel – its decent, if you put aside the inherent problems of power and privilege underlying the work- and I do like the art.

But it doesn’t beat Joe Sacco’s Palestine or Footnotes from Gaza in emotion and depth.

Oh and before I forget Ian, the Partition Plan stated clear border. If we are to accept the Partition Plan, it was the Zionists that expanded beyond what the 1947 plan dictates.

but that’s a mote point, i guess.

john the zionist

March 25, 2011 at 12:59 pm

How is it that every neanderthal (read: anti-zionist, et al) is able to find and then quote all the self-hating Jews that have a problem with their people not being victims?

Gawd, what a mess of manure…first off, you can’t be a colonist unless you are representing an empire: which empire where the nearly-annihilated russian jews representing when they settled into Israel …the antisemitic czar?….your statements are ridiculous….who were the sephardic jews representing when they were kicked out of every nazified arab country? the califs? no, every jew came to israel as a victim…it is the arabs in israel who are colonialist….they came when they smelled the economy getting better after enough jews moved in. the palestinians until 1964–actually the PLO–saw themselves as an extension of the syrians and saw israel as a part of syria…only later did they make up the fact that they were the caananites, or adam’s children, the real jews…pick a lie, the pals have used it….

the real issue is if the pals have no claim on israel because there have been jews there forever–in spite of the mosque that they built on the temple mount–why do they want to destroy israel? after all, jordan was removed from the british mandate of palestine and given to the hashemites, so just 20% of the mandate was left for jews…again, why do they want israel? simple antisemitism…to deny jews their heritage is what the pals want to do….

As a current Israeli solider I can tell you this book is merely for people starting to learn about israel but also has lots of inaccuracies and teaches you very little about israel and the conflict. In the book Sarah Glidden will make claims of things that if asked she can never ever back up.

Also These posts recently that some people have written like israeli soldiers have forced people into a house and then burned them alive is not true and a complete lie. If anyone actually believes that happened they are idiots.

Also to “Anti-Zionist” the arabs rejected the partition plan so all of your whole point is moot. Even you knew anything about israeli arabs today you would know they hope there never will be a palestinian state because they are afraid of losing their freedom and most likely breaking any laws would result in death as the PA puts anyone to death for just selling any land/home to a jew.
Forcing Women to give birth on the streets that’s a laugh, I’ve personally guarded at checkpoints and have never seen that happen. There are procedures for people who need to get by and people who need a hospital are cared to first and foremost. There is a check on ambulances because more than plenty of times in the past terrorists have tried to sneak in pretending to be injured. Have put weapons in ambulances to get through with someone injured and soforth. Even when these things are found the person who is injured and needs help is still cared to by israeli soldiers and sent to a hospital. If the arabs don’t like the checkpoint they have Hamas and the PA to blame not israel.

Also if you think hamas doesn’t abuse women than you know nothing of hamas. Hamas also puts gays to death. Will stone a woman if she is dressed “improperly” a women can be put to death for pretty much almost anything under hamas rule. I have yet to see my country every put a women to death. In fact we have used the death penalty once.
Women, arabs, blacks, christians, muslims, and so on and so forth all have the same rights as jews and israeli’s.

I’m not going to bother with alot of the other stuff because I just wanted to address the really really absurd things I read. Then again I didn’t read all the comments and just a few but enough to know that alot of americans don’t know anything about israel.

lol Zev, always hilarious to see someone try to defend Zionism. Disgusting.

Leave a Comment



Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives