Mideast: political 'Palestine Comics' in Jerusalem

Event for Palestinian cartoonists, as well as Guy Deslisle

17 October, 20:19

    The Palestine Comics' poster The Palestine Comics' poster

    (ANSAmed) - JERUSALEM - Comic strips as a form of art and a tool to understand current events and engage in political resistance is the object of 'Palestine Comics', the first international festival of Palestinian comic strips. The three-day event in the West Bank wraps up on Sunday, October 19.

    ''Very few Palestinian artists turn to comics, most are cartoonists publishing their work on local papers, this is why I thought it was important to get the Palestinian public acquainted with this art, most of all youths'', the director of cultural center Jabous in Jerusalem, Rania Elias, told ANSA. The center, together with Ramallah's NewPal and Zan Studio, organized the event.

    Leading Palestinian artists who are taking part in the event include Amer Shomali, Mohammed Sabaneh and Osama Nazzal, as well as two icons like Guy Deslisle (author of the famous Chronicles of Jerusalem) and Albert Drandov. Maximilien Le Roy, author of the comic strip 'Faire le Mur' (making the wall) should have participated but, the event's organizers said, he was stopped at Ben Gurion airport upon his arrival and banned from Israel for 10 years.

    ''The quality of artists is exceptional although we are sorry artists from the West Bank cannot be here in Jerusalem with us'', said European Union representative John Gatt-Rutter, who inaugurated the event at cultural center Jobous with the French consul.

    Cartoonists living in the Territories will have the possibility of meeting the public in Bethlehem, where their work was exhibited in Manger Square and where a number of meetings and laboratories will be organized for those vying to follow the example of famous cartoonist Joe Sacco.

    Most of the work exhibited has a strong political message connected to the Israeli occupation and is also openly at odds with policies of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA).

    Mohammed Sabaneh, a political cartoonist for daily 'Al-Hayat al-Jadida', was arrested by the Israeli army after he returned from a conference in Jordan at the Allenby crossing and jailed for five months on administrative detention. Due to his satirical cartoons against Ramallah's ruling class, Sabaneh has also been harshly criticized by several PNA officials.

    But the event's organizers and artists did not want to give the festival only a political connotation. Indeed, they stressed that narrative power, graphic design and the interpretation of reality - key elements of this art - were very much the protagonists.

    ''You just need a piece of paper, a pencil and the will to tell the world what is around us'', said Guy Deslisle.

    ''Cartoons are inexpensive and very effective, I very much hope this event will succeed in attracting many youths and make them love this art''. (ANSAmed)

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