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Review: White and Black: Political Cartoons from Palestine

When the movie, Good Will Hunting, came out so many years ago, the world fell in love with its two writers and rediscovered just how brilliant Robin Williams still was. There are more than a few takeaways from that movie as “never judge a book by its cover”, which applied to Matt Damon’s character. The other takeaway is “everyone has their own individual path in life”, which one of the messages Ben Affleck’s character carries with him.  I got those messages and then some, but my main takeaway from that movie, is discovering Howard Zinn.

I remember one of my old Navy buddies talking about his one book repeatedly, and it did not really click until I watched that movie, then it made sense. The People’s History of The United States, was the book Robin Williams’ character told about and gave Matt Damon’s character in the film. I would find it soon after and my life, was never the same, as rarely does the story, ever been told by the oppressed, but this book told it. This is what Mohammad Sabaaneh’s political cartoons evoke in me, it speaks a truth rarely heard, which is collected in White and Black: Political Cartoons From Palestine.

His cartoons collected in this book, speak of the true horrors of being oppressed, and gives the reader a rarely heard or seen side of Palestine. He divides his cartoons based on themes, and it works magnificently to effect. The first chapter delves into the history of Palestine, a reality that has never been realized until now. The last chapter gives the reader a full view of what it means to b a “Political prisoner”.

Overall, an excellent book, that gives a clear view of what is going on in that part of the world. The stories by Sabaaneh leaves the reader affected. The art by Sabaaneh is gorgeous and heartbreaking. Altogether, an important book in the canon of political cartoons but will give Westerners a better understanding of your fellow man in that part of the world.

Story: Mohammad Sabaaneh Art: Mohammad Sabaaneh
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Baddawi

The lives of refugees have been in the spotlight, over the last few months, some of it was because of politics, but also due to nationalism. As widespread fear mongering and hate towards these people who believed like the rest of the world, the words beneath Lady Liberty’s feet. The core element, that most people don’t realize, is that these are fleeing violence and most recently, war. The fear of losing your life, is the only constant these men, women, and children, know and that is not living.

When the Western World insinuates their impertinence on inhabitants of the Third World, our society can no longer call ourselves human, as we become less than. This why the fact that most people can’t tell the difference between refugees and immigrants is both disturbing and ridiculous. Living in a refugee camp, is one that rarely gets explored, if you don’t count Brian De Palma’s Scarface. This subject is meticulously explored and documented in Leila Abdelrazaq’s striking opus to her father, Baddawi.

In the first few pages, the reader is quickly introduced to what lead to her father being sent to a refugee camp, as the politics of Palestine play out in the name of ethnic cleansing. Ahmed, her father gets to Baddawi refugee camp, where children like him try to liv a life of some semblance of living and learning. As he struggles to find his place in this world, he also finds that life is not fair and people are just as cruel. By the end of the book, he is stronger, smarter and more resolute than ever, as he as a visa to go the United States but not on to come back to Lebanon.

Overall, a coming of age story in a place where war is commonplace and the tearing apart of families is as mutual as heartbreak. The story by Abdelrazaq is distressing, heartfelt and leaves the reader appreciative of their upbringing. The art by Abdelrazaq is beautifully incandescent and leaves traces on your heart. Altogether, a heavy yet important take on the lives of refugees that one finds complex and illuminating.

Story: Leila Abdelrazaq Art: Leila Abdelrazaq
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

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