‘Palestine Through Graphics’: Program teaches Palestinian youth to tell their story through graphic novels

on 9 Comments

It was a bright and early start for everyone on the team as it takes roughly two hours in the saveese to snake up through the Samarian hills and reach Jenin from down town Ramallah. We were given a warm welcome from a full class of young people at the Sharek centre in Jenin. They immediately took interest in the idea of creating graphic novels based on their experiences of life under occupation. Consequently, it was a long and intense day of teaching showing the basic components of a graphic novel and how to construct one from scratch. It was a relief when all the work paid off the next day as we collected an array of moving graphic novels telling tearful and stirring stories pieced together from family memories. We were with them for a mere two days but lasting memories were made of wide eyed smiles, laughter and their steely determination to overcome the obstacles of life under occupation was truly inspirational. We had spent the previous week working hard to create a fundraising campaign and a platform through social media to broadcast the graphic novels to communities around the world and it was worth it!

All photos from the Palestine Through Graphics workshop in Jenin.

Feda Ayyash is a national volunteer at Sharek Youth Forum who has been committed to this project since its inception in October 2012. Her family lost their home in 1967 when they were driven from the rural town of Al-Ramlah. She now lives in northwest Jerusalem and still hopes to one day return to her ancestral town despite the long years of conflict and the on-going setbacks presented by Israeli occupation of the West Bank. Her story is just one among many that puts a face to the ever growing numbers of those simply wishing to one day return home. Feda has ambitious hopes to greatly expand this project over the coming months to equip more young Palestinians with the creative and empowering ability to craft their own graphic novels and share their stories. She is convinced there is no better tool for raising awareness, which at the same time promotes a creative means of non-violent self-expression.


A recent survey by UNRWA found that a quarter of Palestinian youth suffer from hypertension caused from exposure to traumatic events. By offering participants a space to voice their experiences in an innovative way ‘‘Palestine Through Graphics’’ aims to alleviate some of this distress and enhance Palestinian solidarity. The latter is a particularly pressing issue given the fragmentation of Palestinian identity boldly highlighted and debated by the recent 2013 Masarat conference (the Palestinian Centre for Policy Research and Strategic Studies) at Al-Bireh Municipality Park Hall. To learn more about Feda’s story track the progress of ‘‘Palestine Through Graphics’’ by visiting the Facebook page: www.Facebook.com/PalestineThroughGraphics


9 Responses

  1. Cliff
    January 31, 2013, 11:34 am

    This would be censored in the US following an Orwellian anti-‘anti-semitism’ campaign by the organized Jewish community (Zionists).

    In fact, it did happen:

    link to mondoweiss.net

    The Zionist censors simply didn’t want Brand Israel damaged.

    In 2004, art by Iraqi children hung on the museum’s walls. The pictures, made shortly after the U.S. invasion, included a picture of a helicopter shooting into a field of flowers.

    The art by the Palestinian children was similar in content.

    Read more: link to sfgate.com

    Why were Iraqi children allowed to express their trauma from war but not Palestinian children?

    What was the difference?

    One didn’t look too good for the US and one didn’t look too good for Israel.

    Same schtick as always. No surprises.

  2. RoHa
    January 31, 2013, 6:34 pm

    Publishing a set of “Palestine comics” is a wonderful idea. I hope this project succeeds. I’d like to see the results on paper and online.

    Comics are a great way to present material. (I used to assign my students the task of converting some of the course material into comic strips as a way of improving their own understanding.)

    But why lumber them with the poncy term “graphic novels”? The sort of people who will be impresed by that name aren’t the sort who read comics.

    • eljay
      February 3, 2013, 8:52 am

      >> But why lumber them with the poncy term “graphic novels”? The sort of people who will be impresed by that name aren’t the sort who read comics.

      I get the impression that that’s exactly who the term impresses. Graphic novels are serious comic books, created for those twenty- or thirty- or forty-something adults who, despite still living in their parents’ basements, are too grown up to be reading “regular” comic books.

      But that’s just the impression I get… :-)

      • Annie Robbins
        February 3, 2013, 10:10 am

        joe sacco’s footnotes in gaza was one of the best non fiction books i’ve ever read. or perhaps i should say ‘experienced’ since so much of the information was imparted graphically.

  3. Annie Robbins
    February 1, 2013, 1:18 am

    i loved the video, seeing all those up and coming artists..the smiles in their faces. thanks you.

  4. mcohen
    February 1, 2013, 8:18 am

    interesting. reminds of joe sacco,s work.

  5. Helena Cobban
    February 1, 2013, 7:54 pm

    What’s with “Samarian” hills? Why not say “hills of the northern West Bank”? Anyway, what do Palestinians call these hills?

  6. mcohen
    February 2, 2013, 6:52 pm

    What’s with “Samarian” hills?

    actually the name came from the song in the movie THE SOUND OF MUSIC -the “hills are alive with the sound of music” line in the main song was co-written by an arab gentleman yusef samarian whose great grandfather lived in hebron .in honour of this man who evidently was a great singer they named the hills the “samarian hills”,evidently he was a sheperd and when walking in the hills used to sing to his flock-the name has nothing to do with the judea and samaria referred to in the bible and in any event all that stuff is ………old as the hills

  7. Bumblebye
    February 3, 2013, 10:56 am

    Gangnam Gaza Style:
    link to antonyloewenstein.com

    A little late, but worth it!
    I like the description on the non-working ATM.

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