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Read and Tell Monday

Hello one and all, and welcome once again to Read and Tell Monday!

Continuing our exploration of graphic novels (see Becca’s previous Read and Tell about ‘Maus’: http://bit.ly/zQNyIq) this weekend I read ‘Palestine’ by Joe Sacco.

It’s almost impossible not to take sides when discussing Israel and Palestine, and as the past seventy-odd years of conflict have shown both sides are equally determined that they are in the right. Perhaps for this reason, I would consider ‘Palestine’ an excellent introduction for anyone unfamiliar with the conflict as (perhaps like the reader) we see Sacco develop from someone visiting Israeli-American friends as a tourist, with little knowledge about the area’s history, into someone confronted with the reality of Occupation and determined to highlight the issue.

Sacco’s artistic style is highly confrontational, but then so are the people and incidents he is reporting on. The sample below is typical of ‘Palestine’: bold, striking but also informative and quite humorous.

‘Hebron’ in ‘Palestine’

Sacco is well-aware of how he is perceived by both the Palestinians and the Israelis – i.e. someone here to get their message across – and his frustration at feeling like he is never getting quite the whole story is apparent. Although ultimately pro-Palestinian, ‘Palestine’ certainly attempts to address the issues at stake in as nuanced a manner is as possible. Israelis feature as much as Palestinians, and both are seen in negative and positive lights.

I would certainly recommend ‘Palestine’ for anyone interested in the history and human stories that surround this conflict, although it’s worth pointing out that the situation has changed again since Sacco was writing in the 90’s. If anything (and if it’s possible) tensions and dividing lines in the region seem to be stronger than ever, with neither side appearing to be willing to even talk about peace as they are in Sacco’s accounts.

Graphic novels seem to me to be a great way of getting across messages in a powerful and unusual way, and ‘Palestine’ certainly fits this bill.