Caricatures by Naji AlAli : those from books I have called ” Naji AlAli 1 and 2 : the spokesman of the poor and the cause “
Honoring his memory : Like this day in 1987 he died , he was assassinated.
Naji Al-Ali grew up to become perhaps the most popular cartoonist in the Arab world. With brutal honesty, Naji Al-Ali analyzed the relationships between the governments of the United States, Israel and the Arab regimes and the ramifications for the Palestinians. Time Magazine described him saying, “This man draws with human bones.” The Asahi Newspaper, in Japan, once wrote, “Naji Al-Ali draws using phosphoric acid.”
Naji Al-Ali was well loved for his work but was also well hated, as illustrated by the many death threats he and his family received. On July 22, 1987, in London, Naji Al-Ali was assassinated as he walked towards the offices of Al-Qabas newspaper. He died in the hospital on August 29th. His murderer has never been apprehended.
Naji Al-Ali wrote: “The child Handala is my signature, everyone asks me about him wherever I go. I gave birth to this child in the Gulf and I presented him to the people. His name is Handala and he has promised the people that he will remain true to himself. I drew him as a child who is not beautiful; his hair is like the hair of a hedgehog who uses his thorns as a weapon. Handala is not a fat, happy, relaxed, or pampered child. He is barefooted like the refugee camp children, and he is an icon that protects me from making mistakes. Even though he is rough, he smells of amber. His hands are clasped behind his back as a sign of rejection at a time when solutions are presented to us the American way.”
Handala was born ten years old, and he will always be ten years old. At that age, I left my homeland, and when he returns, Handala will still be ten, and then he will start growing up. The laws of nature do not apply to him. He is unique. Things will become normal again when the homeland returns.
“Death to Imperialism, Death to Zionism, Long live the Heroic Masses of Palestine”
If Israeli Jews were attempting to kill all Palestinians, why would 20% of the Israeli population be Palestinian Israeli citizens? Yes, there is discrimination and stigmatization in Israel proper, but that’s not genocide.
Why, if the goal is to kill all Palestinians, do you think the IDF isn’t targeting the Palestinians in the West Bank? Why do you think Gaza is the focus?
Regardless of how inefficient you think the warnings the IDF sends out are, why would anyone seeking genocide send out any warnings at all? Why do you think Israel, with its powerful army, hasn’t already obliterated Gaza?
If the end goal is genocide, then why has Israel provided humanitarian aid to Palestinians? Water? Electricity?
Here’s the thing: death on a large scale is horrifying, but it doesn’t automatically constitute genocide. The deaths in Gaza are tragic, and I want nothing more than for the violence to end, but words have meanings.
Calling it genocide erases the ideological component of genocide. It’s either an ignorant, lazy, sloppy analysis of the situation at hand (which makes you seem uneducated, and makes me far less likely to take anything you have to say seriously), or it comes from a far more sinister motive of deliberately comparing Jews to Nazis. That is not powerful; it is anti-Semitic.
Genocide requires ideology. I mean hey, maybe if the IDF had a charter that said something like, 'the Day of Judgement will not come about until Jews fight the Muslims, when the Muslim will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Jews, there is a Muslim behind me, come and kill him,' I’d see your point. But we aren’t the ones with a charter that says that. (Article 7)
Let’s work through the zionist propaganda at play in this post.
Firstly, the internationally recognized definition of genocide is found in Article II of the Genocide Convention, which reads:
In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such :
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to
bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
As is apparent, it specifically states that it need not be the entire population that is targeted — i.e. even if only one segment is targeted for mass killings, it is still genocide. So just because Palestinians inside so-called Israel are not subject to systematic killings does not change the fact that what is happening in Gaza is genocide.
As for the manner of the killings, to ask why Israel doesn’t just kill all the Gazans is to demonstrate how little the OP understands about the nature of genocide. For example, the Bosnia Genocide took place Srebrenica and Žepa in 1995, even though the war had been going on for three years previously. The massacre resulted in the deaths of around 8,500 people, most men and boys. This number, as horrifying as it is, does not constitute the entirety of the Bosnian people nor even the entirety of the towns of Srebrenica and Žepa, but it was no less a genocide committed by Serb nationalists against a largely defenseless population. Similarly, the 2200 Palestinians may not be a significant portion of our population as a whole, but they were still murdered simply because of their ethnicity and their location inside of Gaza.
Now one of the key components of genocide is intent. The OP hints at this with the claim that there is no ideological component to the massacre that Israel perpetrated in Gaza. Unfortunately, this claim is false. There have many reports of Israeli demonstrations during which the main chant is “Mavet la-Aravim” (Death to the Arabs). This is one of the latest examples, and googling the phrase will turn up many results over the years. More importantly, over the past two months we have seen repeated calls in prominent newspapers from government officials and others “to suspend the laws of war,” to attack the entire Gaza Strip with no consideration for civilian casualties, describing the entire Palestinian people as the enemy and Palestinian mothers as snakes, and so on. The notion that Israelis are not calling for genocide or that genocidal intent plays no role in Israel’s actions is belied by the words of zionists themselves.
What Israel perpetrated in Gaza these past 7 weeks was genocide by every definition of the word. To deny that and to accuse people who describe it as such of bigotry is obscene.
Aside from “killing members of the group”, meeting the (a) qualification of genocide, the other qualifications describe in more detail what life is like under besiegement and occupation.
The Israeli-engineered humanitarian crisis in Gaza is so atrocious that 80% of Gazan households now live under the poverty line, and 80% of all Palestinian families in Gaza would literally starve without food aid from international agencies. Remember that even after the UN released a report on Gaza stating that it will likely not be “liveable” by 2020 because of Israel’s besiegement, in this latest “Israeli” operation, water and sewage systems were destroyed or affected, hospitals were destroyed, homes, mosques, UN schools serving as shelters, more than 360 factories destroyed or affected, and Gaza’s only power plant, leaving millions without electricity who already suffered from long power shortages every day.
Over 17,000 hectares of cropland in Gaza has been directly damaged by Israeli attacks.
The decimation of Gaza’s buildings and structures, shelters and any type of facility to aid in food, water or health irrefutably meets the (c) qualification of genocide in Gaza, being “conditions to cause destruction in whole or in part”. There are so many facts and statistics to list about Gaza from only the recent Israeli onslaught that evokes so many descriptions of genocide, which doesn’t even take to account all of the years of besiegement and other waves of massacre.
As for the “causing serious bodily or mental harm” (b) qualification of genocide, “at least 373,000 Palestinian children in Gaza require direct and specialized psychosocial support (PSS).”
As for (d), “measures intended to prevent births”, all the above qualifications apply obviously, as well as Palestinian women forced to give birth at checkpoints and then dying, or pregnant Palestinian women being targeted and killed by the Israeli Occupation Forces.
As for (e), “the forcible transferring of children”, we cannot forget that Palestinian children, 8,000 since the year 2000, have been detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system, which involves being abducted in the middle of the night by heavily armed Israeli soldiers, leading to many cases of PTSD.
Of course you can either transfer children, or exceed that qualification of genocide by outright murdering children. From the year 2000 to before the launching of Israelis recent operation, 1523 Palestinian children have been killed by the IOF. If calculated, that is one Palestinian child killed every three days for a decade.
Most of these statistics apply only to Gaza. There’s much to add from Israeli’s policy of demolishing homes in the West Bank for the expansion of colonies, or of the many killings in the West Bank, as well as arrests, ethnocide, and harshly unequal distribution of resources, etc. I mentioned Gaza because Gaza alone epitomizes the pinnacle Israeli genocide.
Now imagine if a high Israeli official demanded that Gaza be sent “back to the Middle Ages”, or an IOF general stating that all food and water should be cut off to Gaza – oh wait – that was actually said. And that is spoken on behalf of the settler-state of “Israel”, with all its advanced high-tech precision weaponry, which should therefore be held to incredibly higher standards when they have the capacity to NOT destroy homes, kill over 2,200 people, or wipe out, partially or in whole, 140 Palestinian families in Gaza.
Could it mean, they intend to?
dabkeh across 18 cities of palestine.
'Resistance Is Not Terrorism'
Gaza, 1988 by Robert Croma
Wherever I went in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1988, Palestinian children spontaneously gave ‘V’ signs in response to my camera.
It should be noted that these images are a blow-up of contact prints as Croma no longer has access to his original negatives.
More photographs from the First Intifada by Rober Croma here.
This anon exemplifies exactly how much of a disconnect and asymmetry there is between Palestinians and those who stand against them.
You think we’re doing this for a crummy PUBLIC RELATIONS campaign? How bloody disconnected from earth are you?
People are LITERALLY fighting for survival. Do you know how many people have suffered and died under siege? Do you have any idea of all the crap people in Gaza have to live in?
You think we can take the privileged detached position of public relations, like you?
Great victim blaming. You sound exactly like how abusive men justify their abuse “look what you made me do.” You’re acting as if Hamas threw people off a cliff, and not that Israel has been butchering Palestinians for over a month and a half.
Get your head out of your ass.
"What is your father’s name?"
"What is your father’s father’s name?"
"Where was he born?"
"You have Palestinian passport?"
"You have American passport only?"
"You have family in Ramallah?"
"You don’t have family there?”
"Who do you know in Ramallah?"
"You were born in Ramallah but you don’t know anybody there?"
"You JUST TOLD ME you were born in Ramallah."
A phone call in Hebrew I don’t understand a word of. A hostile glare.
I tell her I’m sorry, that I misheard her, I thought she was asking where my grandfather was born. He was born in Ramallah. I was born in Detroit. I have only an American passport. I am telling her this calmly, but in my mind, I am thinking I am fucked and this would all go so much more smoothly if the Israeli woman with the bad eyebrows behind the counter didn’t know my grandparents were from Palestine. Of course, the irony of the situation does not escape me. Being Palestinian is making it impossible for me to visit Palestine.
She gives me a Visitor Information Form to fill out, sends me to a grid of cold metal benches, separated by thick metal bars from the rest of the people waiting to cross into the West Bank. I don’t know why the Israelis need to know my father’s middle name, the location of my workplace in Michigan, or the address of the second cousin of the brother of the doctor of the shop owner who lived on the same street as the sister of the woman my great-great-grandfather might have met once, but I complete the form. It isn’t long before the rest of my group, thirteen other Arab-Americans, joins me. And not long after that, interrogation starts.
They take J. first. I am silently praying that she can stay strong, because I know she doesn’t know what to expect. Almost an hour later, she emerges from the tiny room, shaking, wiping tears from her eyes. They yelled at her. Accused her of lying. Told her she could be arrested. She is terrified, but she kept her composure. Already, I am full of this strange but familiar combination of rage and pride, the internal swell and crash of injustice and resistance, of indignity and resilience, of being Palestinian.
They call each of our names. They are the hardest on our boys. A. is shuttled between three different rooms, screamed at and threatened by three different officers. T., who has been leading delegations to Palestine for twenty years, warned us while we were still on the bus leaving Jordan: “Stay calm, don’t let them get to you.” We are laughing, joking, and playing games in the waiting area as the minutes tick by, as one by one, we are asked the same questions and the Israelis get the same answers. We wait, and talk, and dream of Palestine. We wait.
A baby-faced boy dressed in olive green, with a rifle slung across his shoulders, chooses to sit in the waiting area with us instead of taking C. to the interrogation rooms. “I’m sorry about this,” I hear him say. “I’m sorry you have to go through this.”
"I don’t even understand why we’re doing this, to be honest."
"I’m 20. This is only my second week in the IDF."
I sigh. He’s my age; seems like a sweet kid. But this is Israeli occupation, so because he is Jewish and we are Palestinian, he holds the gun and asks the questions. We can do nothing but wait.
(When it is time for iftar, for Muslims to break their daily fast during Ramadan, Baby Face sneaks N. and R. a bottle of water. We do not see him again.)
They take J. again; the same narrow-eyed woman beckons impatiently. “You know, you’re scaring her,” T. tells her.
The Israeli woman rolls her eyes, turns around. “That’s not us. That’s her personal experience. That’s personal, if someone is scared.”
We have been detained at the Israeli border crossing for hours, interrogated, accused of crimes, lied to, and threatened. There are men with guns casually wandering back and forth. The lines at the gates fill and empty, fill and empty, as we watch, waiting to be granted permission from military occupiers to enter our own homeland. That’s personal.
It is 8:30 by the time my name is called last and frankly, I’m wondering what took them so long. The woman with flat blond hair, the one who made J. cry, beckons me to follow her into a tiny room. I wink at my friends as I leave our waiting area.
She is coldly professional. I am polite. “Have a seat.” “Thank you.”
"This will be quick and easy," she says. Great.
"What is the purpose of your visit?"
"What is the group you are with?"
"What will you be doing?"
"Where will you be staying?"
"Will you be going anywhere else?"
"Will you be going to Ramallah, Nablus, or Jenin?"
"Will you be going to any refugee camps?"
"Have your leaders told you to say any specific information?"
"Was there anywhere else they said they might go?"
"Who do you know in Israel?"
"What are you doing here?"
My heart is pounding but I smile, answer calmly. Tourism; a Christian youth group; visiting holy sites; Jerusalem; maybe Bethlehem—you know, holy sites—So you’re Christian?—Yes—That’s personal; I don’t know; I don’t know; no; no; not that I know of; nobody; excuse me ma’am but what are YOU doing here? Did your great-grandparents walk this earth? Did your grandfather tell you the exact location of the fig tree he planted as a child? What are YOU doing here? Is this your home, your history? Didn’t think so.
"Are you sure," she asks, "because the consequences depend on your answers."
I am dismissed, told to stand outside with three other travelers. The blonde woman mutters to a stern-looking man, who instructs us to cross to the other side of the gate, where we cannot see or hear the other members of our group. He points for us to sit. So we sit. And we wait.
T. wanders back to our side, now with a grey sweatshirt on over the Bedouin-via-China dress she bought in Petra.”I think they’re going to deny our entry.”
I am staring down at a spot on the tile floor, a speck missed by the Black man who pushed the cleaning machine around us earlier. I know how Israel treats its African asylum seekers, and it doesn’t escape my notice that the white, European Israelis hold positions of relative power while every Black person I see has been cleaning. We have been sitting on the same metal bench, separated from the rest of our group, for at least an hour. Nobody has told us what is going on. The Israeli officer, who seems to have nothing to do but sit and watch us, spoke only to tell us not to talk to each other, the note in her voice too harsh not to defy—of course we talk to each other. We make sure she hears us laugh. Every small act of defiance feels like resistance to this occupation.
We are still waiting. T. and J. drift back and forth. They are calling the State Department, the Consulate General, waiting for our paperwork, waiting for what? It’s cold inside the Allenby border crossing, and we are tired. The Israelis eventually offer us cheap snacks. How benevolent, how generous they are.
Since I heard we may be denied entry, i am curled in my metal seat, refusing to let the words settle.
I knew before I boarded a plane to Amman that the Israeli border control could simply decide, for any or no reason, not to let me into Palestine. This is the reason I am careful in everything I do, careful to make sure I am never photographed, that I am un-google-able, that my name is not associated with Palestine solidarity activism in any way. I know they harass activists. They harass everybody. I avoid cameras and journalists. I know I am overly paranoid, but staying as anonymous as possible is just a precaution; it can’t hurt, and it sets my father’s mind at ease, as he worries constantly that even my modest activism will get me in trouble. I knew, but I didn’t think I had much to worry about. I expected questioning; I expected to be detained. This much is standard. To be denied entry is extreme, but not unheard of. So I worry, and I wait.
And I wait. The border crossing is still open, and we see a few families pass, a few single men. We are still separated from the rest of our group and from any access to information about why this is taking so long. There is nothing to do but try to make light of the dread, the weight of anxiety, the uncertainty simmering.
Finally, a young woman with a stud in her nose approaches, holding a stack of passports. N. trails behind her, catches my eye, shakes her head. Mouths the words “we’re not going.”
The Israeli woman clutches the stack of American passports, calls out a few names. Tells them they are going with her to get their luggage. Tells the rest of us to wait for our passports. More officers follow, holding our passports hostage, tell us to collect our bags & that we’re leaving. Not leaving the freezing, hostile border crossing to enter the holy land, but leaving through the door we entered from, leaving back to the no-man’s-land between the West Bank and Jordan. “You’re leaving.”
At this point, deportation doesn’t come as much of a surprise. As the words settle, as yet another thin, blonde Israeli woman approaches with my passport, J. emerges from the other side of the gate, biting her nails.
"We’re banned for five years," she says.
I stop breathing.
Banned from the place my grandparents were born, that I’ve heard endless stories and seen countless photos of, that I’ve dreamed of returning to. Forbidden to see the holy land for five years, a sentence handed down arbitrarily by bored officers who don’t know and don’t care what this means. They are laughing, flirting, leaning back in the chairs, killing time until they get off work, when they can travel freely wherever they want within historic Palestine. Our devastation is nothing to them.
I collect my bags. Later, in a hotel in Amman, I will find that the Israelis have folded all of my clothing, arranged my t-shirts and bras. The woman returns my passport, opened to page 9 to reveal a new scar.
Entry Denied. Not one but two ugly rectangular red stamps on a formerly clean page of my passport.
Five hours of waiting, of interrogation, of reassuring each other the border closes soon, they can’t keep us here forever, they just want to scare us, this is normal. Three hours is nothing. Four, average. Five, entry denied.
Banned. From my own homeland. For five years.
Standing on the street waiting for a bus to take us back to Jordan, I unwrap a piece of gum to mask the bitter taste rising in the back of my throat. A man in a plaid blue shirt and jeans lifts a semiautomatic rifle as he sees me move. Clicks the safety off. I snap a photo, trying to be discreet, as he stands with his finger on the trigger. Not discreet enough. He turns his eyes on me.
Suddenly two men appear on either side of me, speaking Hebrew-accented Arabic, switching to English when they see my blank stare. “Get your passport. Come with me. Give me the cell phone.”
I wait. “Why? Can you tell me what the problem is?” As if I don’t know the problem is the photo, the problem is the potential of sharing Israel’s brutality with the world with a click of a button.
"The security guard gonna ask you a few questions."
I’m too tired to argue, so I let them lead me away, tell them “I’m sorry, I didn’t know I wasn’t allowed to take a photo, it’s just that I’ve just never seen anything like that in America.”
"Okay, erase the photo."
"You’re holding my phone. You erase the photo." He does. "Maybe you took a video too?"
"You’re holding my phone. If I took a video, you’d see it there."
He thanks me, and in some bizarre attempt to ease the tension, casually asks “So, are you going back to Jordan?”
Something in me snaps.
Of course I’m going back to Jordan. Where else am I supposed to go? You and your people just TOLD me I had to go back to Jordan. Because of you—
T. grabs my arm, pulls me away; “stay calm, don’t let them get to you,” murmured in my ear for the thousandth time today.
The man thanks me again with a smirk. i can do nothing but stare back at him.
The next few hours are surreal, blurred memory of chaos and calm. We are silent in our devastation as the reality of what has just happened settles; we are shaking with anger, jaws aching from holding back furious tears; we are in tears trying to console each other, realizing some of us may never see our elderly grandparents in Palestine again. The Jordanian tour bus wants to charge us $300 for the drive from the Israeli border across no-man’s-land back to Jordan—hardly more than one mile. We need new Jordanian visas to reenter, though we were only out beyond Jordan’s borders for a few hours. The Jordanians check our passports; we wait; they check our luggage; we wait. Chaos and calm. Rage and disbelief. Exile and acceptance.
Eventually, the Jordanian officers show some sympathy, and taxis arrive to take us back to Amman. At some point during the hour’s drive, to break the heaviest silence I have ever felt, H. points out at some distant hills. “Hatha Amman?” Our driver jerks his lead to the left, “la2, Amman hon.” Amman is over there. And on the right, where she pointed? “Hatha Falasteen.” We are so close, separated from home by just a few miles. Minutes away, but it will be five years before any of us can return.
In Amman, we flip through Arabic television channels, desperate for news. Though I can’t understand a word of the anchor’s formal Arabic, I recognize images of Palestine. A photo of a teenage boy wearing a baseball cap flashes across the screen, followed by footage of protests. Muhammad Abu Khdeir has been kidnapped and murdered by Jewish settlers. Israeli soldiers are shooting at protestors in Ramallah and Jerusalem. They have begun airstrikes over the Gaza Strip. It is now 3:00 in the morning, and I am exhausted, struggling to understand; struggling to carry the weight of exile, the burden of my Palestinian blood.
As bombs fall over Gaza, and keffiya-clad youth throw stones at their occupiers, my bones ache to be across the border. To be home.