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(en) Ireland, Workers Solidarity #80 March 2004 - Book Review - Palestine by Joe Sacco Brutality Brought Home

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Mon, 12 Apr 2004 07:31:21 +0200 (CEST)


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In the book '1984', Winston Smith is told what the future is going to
be like. He is told to imagine a boot grinding a face into the ground
over and over again. That's the type of reality that's been going on in
Palestine since 1948. Recently someone gave me Palestine, by Joe Sacco,
as a present. It's a story of the Israeli occupation told using the
form of a graphic novel, a form that is used to great effect.
For example, beneath the wide expansive picture of everyday
western life in Jerusalem, he takes us into the small subterranean
world of the torture and beatings dished out to Palestinians a few
metres below the surface. Each frame in the book gets smaller and
smaller creating a claustrophobic effect until we are right there,
tied to the pole with our arms aching in a tiny black box losing all
hope for the prisoner. There were times when I had to stop
reading because my heart was so heavy.

Sacco's account is set at the end of 1991 as he, the quiet rational
anti-hero, goes on tour to all the hot spots that we are familiar
with: Gaza, Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin, and Hebron. Here in
overcrowded living rooms he meets, what Edward Said calls in his
introduction, 'history's victims'. Young boys sit around and talk of
throwing stones at soldiers. Old men talk of what it was like to
have their land seized in 1948. People lift their jumpers to reveal
the cuts and scars, the remnants of interrogations. A mother tells
the story of how she had to bury her sons in the dead of night,
after they had been shot by soldiers and refused treatment long
enough so that their deaths became inevitable.

The same characters appear again and again in the West Bank. In
Jabalia, a refugee camp that vies for the position as one of the
most densely populated places on earth (65,000 people within two
square kilometres) Ariel Sharon's troops bulldozed large sections
in 1971 in order to 'pacify' the Gaza strip. This is the same camp
where the first Intifada started in December 1987. Now, sixteen
years later a new Intifada involving a new army of youth and
suicide bombers rages, whilst Sharon sits as Prime Minister of
Israel. Now he and his ilk are building a wall around the West
Bank that they failed to pacify thirty-seven years ago.

There is one picture that's always stayed with me from this
conflict. It's the footage of the Israeli soldiers breaking the arms of
some youth by bringing down rocks on his extended arm. When
you brutalise someone in this manner, you demean all humanity.
This book brings home to us the terrible and tragic reality of the
Israeli occupation - of the boot that continues to grind Palestinian
faces into the ground.

See also

Anarchism and the fight against Imperialism
http://www.struggle.ws/wsm/imperialism.html
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