Saturday, February 18, 2012

Better to Light a Candle...

Naji al-Ali, creator of the character Hanthala, has truly lit a candle to lighten the darkness of the Palestinian refugees.  Hanthala has stolen the hearts of Palestinians everywhere.  Al-Ali says that Hanthala “represented the honest Palestinian who will always be on people’s mind.”  Joe Sacco wrote the introduction and describes Hanthala as epitomizing the “poorest, most powerless Palestinian.”  His hands are behind his back, and his back is always to the reader.  He is only an observer, but he observes everything—Israeli oppression, Arab leaders, the U.S., and even his neighbors.

   A Child in Palestine was published in 2009, twenty-two years after al-Ali’s assassination, yet sadly, Hanthala’s observations are as relevant today as they were when they were first published in newspapers throughout the Arab world. 

   The English captions and introductions to each section give the Western reader a greater understanding of the plight of the Palestinians than they could ever get from Western publications.  Al-Ali presents a view of the Palestine problem as seen from the inside. 

   The simple cartoons are heavy with irony.  Like Hanthala, the cartoons observe the absurd whenever it exists.

   A Child in Palestine, published by Verso, is available from Amazon at

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