Joe Sacco's graphic novel, Palestine, deals with the repercussions of the first intifada in Israel/Palestine/the Holy Land. The story follows the author through the many refugee camps and towns around Palestine as he tries to gather information, stories, and pictures to construct his graphic novel. While the book is enjoyable at a face level, there are many underlying themes conveyed throughout its illustrated pages and written text. The most obvious of the themes is that of violence, brutality, and torture. Tied into this also is the idea of injustice. Many of these themes are intertwined. Constantly the reader is berated with violent images, or descriptions of violence. These must be on nearly every second page of the novel. A good example of all these themes together is in the section called "Moderate Pressure: Part Two" This deals with a story of a man called Ghassan who was accused of an affiliation with an illegal group that could not be proven. Ghassan was forced to stand or sit in certain positions for hours on end, he was beaten, deprived of sleep, and restricted from medical attention that he needed. Continually he went to court, and the case was adjourned to later dates to try to confiscate some kind of evidence against him. There was no justice for Ghassan until after several days (approximately 14); he was released for lack of evidence. Ghassan suffers from violence (which is unjust), from brutality (one of the inspectors trying to induce a heart attack), and torture. Ghassan's ordeal is illustrated in both written and pictorial form. Likewise to this, there are many other pictorial examples and textual examples from front to back of violence, brutality, injustice, and torture . There is also the theme of hypocrisy littered throughout the pages of Joe Sacco's novel. This idea of hypocrisy is mainly centred on what the Israelis do to the Palestinians. In images the hypocrisy is apparent. Often there are pictures of the Palestinians on the same page, or on the second page but aligned with the Israelis. Often the Israeli side is shown as more optimistic, brighter, or livelier than those portraying the Palestinians. An excellent example of this is on page 260, where both Tel Aviv and Nablus are portrayed. In Tel Aviv, Sacco is reclined on a chair, with two attractive women, and it appears to be a sunny warm day, in Nablus, Sacco is with a crowd of Palestinians, all look frightened, and there is a group of ominous soldiers behind them. The best way to illustrate this theme in the textual sense is to look at two parts of the text. The first to examine is near the end of the text while Sacco is leaving Palestine; he is sitting beside an old Jewish American . She states that it is a shame all the violence that goes on in the area, especially after all the hardships the Jews have already suffered. To contrast this, the reader must look back to an earlier instance in the book that is mainly textual . Here it talks about the opinions of the Zionists who first moved to Israel, as well as quotes from Prime Ministers of Israel. Quotes such as, "Palestinian Arabs have only one role left to flee." and "It was not as though there was a Palestinian people considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist." prove a type of hypocrisy. After all the Jews had suffered from other cultures and societies discriminating against them, one would think that they would not wish to inflict anything similar on another culture or society. Quotes like this almost seem reminiscent to those issued during the time of the Holocaust (i.e., the Jews are not human/people). Similar to this, instances of hypocrisy are apparent throughout the novel . Finally, there is also an underlying theme of the sensationalist nature of the media. At many times one finds Sacco talking about how he wants to see instances of violence happen, because...
Bibliography: Sacco, Joe. Palestine. Fantagraphics Books, Seattle: 2001.
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