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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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06/05/2005 Archived Entry: "Comics journalism review: Palestine"

Palestine
Story and Art by Joe Sacco
Published by Fantagraphics

Review by Kathy LaFollett

I've put off writing this review on Palestine for about 2 weeks. I can't find a place to put my foot down on the opening sentence to this article. How can I possibly meet the author's extreme skill, intelligence, patience, empathy and artful execution I find myself thinking "I am not worthy" to write a word.

The Israel/Palastine conflict (and I use that word "conflict" VERY loosely in reference) is SO convoluted, so OLD, so very very deep and painful only those in the theatre of conflict and inherent to the history truly understand the immensely doomed situation. Until 2001 when Palestine was first published.

Any reader who carefully reads and studies the art of this publication will finally get a toehold to this god-forsaken situation. And after you read Palestine you must admit, God has VERY little to do with the day-to-day life, death and torture that is the Palestinian experience.

I'll bypass the politics and religion for now, and stay within the boundaries of this historic publication. It is historic in that one of history's and present's most violent and least understood human drama is explained in such a manner that anyone of any age, religion, race or gender can finally grasp where it came from and why it is what it is today. Not that it will make a difference to the situation. Generations contained within the context of the Gaza conflict do not even KNOW what it means to live without fear or poverty or hunger, or terror, or torture or threat. They only know this state. This sad, horrendous human state of affairs brought on by deeply engrained religious prejudice over a swath of land covered in sand. It's really hard to bypass the politics and religion of this, come to think of it.

It's a mess. It is a travesty. It is useless, and it will never end.

Mr. Sacco has provided a first person expression of his experience on the ground breaking bread with the very souls that struggle in Palestine. His art drives points home that are barely a blip on the television news ticker.

Truly, this book should be mandatory reading in every school of every nation in the world. It should be studied and discussed just as the Holocaust is in every history class. Yes, there are two sides to every story and conflict. And yes, Israel has a side to all this as well. But considering Israel has had the World's stage for decades now, it is heartening, if not enraging at times to hear the Palestinian side.

I dare any open-minded reader to view the history and present of this conflict the same after reading Joe Sacco's perspective. The term "occupied territories" will no longer be a vague undefined place of despair.

Palestine is a frightening, riveting, compelling, landmark publication.

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