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Freedom Funnies: ‘You Can’t Just Continue’ Part II

on 26 Comments

Here is the second part of Ethan Heitner’s interview with Palestinian filmmaker and writer Annemarie Jacir. You can read the first part here.

(Click on the first image below to view it larger, and then click in the upper right hand corner to scroll to the next page.)

Jacir 4
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Ethan Heitner

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26 Responses

  1. pabelmont on March 8, 2012, 1:29 pm

    Terrific. And really explains why (certain) “normalization” things (Israel-Palestine cooperation things) are really destructive and should not be participated in.

    • Hostage on March 8, 2012, 1:54 pm

      Terrific. And really explains why (certain) “normalization” things (Israel-Palestine cooperation things) are really destructive and should not be participated in.

      Recently some Israelis and Palestinians held an event where they were expected to vote for a joint parliament that would offer itself as a “third government” for the two peoples. The cultural boycott against “normalization” was invoked as an excuse to help shutdown the event. So I suppose a person can take this stuff too far, or flip it and prolong the conflict, e.g.:

      • LeaNder on March 8, 2012, 2:46 pm

        Do you have a different source, Hostage? Shouldn’t there be nowadays some traces on the web? After a campaign against the German Center for Antisemitism Studies in Berlin, and especially it’s head, I am really careful what news items I will trust on the Jerusalem Post. I did trust Derfner, but he is gone, as you know.

      • Hostage on March 8, 2012, 10:14 pm

        Wednesday, 14 December, 2011« Wadi Hilweh Information Center – Silwan, Jerusalem

        Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) –

        Jerusalem activists successfully had the Ambassador Hotel cancel their hosting of events in the planned Israeli Palestinian Confederation Conference on Tuesday, 13 December. The conference, organized by Jerusalem University director Dr. Sari Nsaibeh and former Israeli foreign affairs minister Shlomo Bena’mi, was to see the election for the parliament and a chairman for the so-called Israeli- Palestinian Confederation.

        Conference events taking place in Beit Jalah and Haifa over the next few days have promoted a false illusion of Palestine already being liberated and contributed to the normalization of the Israeli occupation. One demonstrator commented that “how would such a confederation even be possible under the occupation?”

        The management of the Ambassador Hotel announced their decision to cancel the conference events in a printed statement posted at the hotel’s entrance. A hotel manager stated that “we have been manipulated by the conference organizers, who did not reveal to us its real purposes. We refuse to take part in their attempts to veil the reality of Palestinian suffering.”

        Protesters gathered outside the hotel to condemn the process of normalization of the occupation promoted by the conference, amidst the collapse of the peace process, continuing settlement construction and the confiscation of Palestinian land.

        Al-Hayat Al-Jadida – Dec. 13, 2011

        “The Israeli delegation left in shock, and Ubeidat demanded the dismissal of Sari Nusseibeh from the position of President of Al-Quds University – Jerusalem personalities obstruct conference on normalization in Jerusalem”

        “National figures from Jerusalem forced the management of the Ambassador Hotel in Jerusalem to prevent [the holding of] a conference on normalization, with the participation of Palestinians and Israelis, including President of Al-Quds University, Sari Nusseibeh; [Israeli professor and former MP] Shlomo Ben-Ami, and others, which had as its aim the holding of general Palestinian and Israeli parliamentary elections, in an attempt to achieve peace, according to their claim.
        Shortly after a sitting strike opposite the hotel, with the participation of dozens of [Palestinian] Jerusalem residents, including representatives of factions and national forces, and after some youth managed to break into the lobby and to remove posters for the conference… the Israeli delegation fled in shock, with angry screams in the background. It should be noted that several hundred meters from the stolen homes in the Sheikh Jarah neighborhood, some Palestinian and Israeli academics and politicians had intended to hold a press conference under the slogan, ‘Palestinian-Israeli Confederation Congress’, to establish a joint Palestinian-Israeli parliament, but the angry voice of the Jerusalem street succeeded in sabotaging the conference, because of its normalization objectives… Writer and media personality Rassem Ubeidat demanded of President Mahmoud Abbas and of [head of the Department for Jerusalem Affairs and former PM] Ahmad Qurei to dismiss the president of Al-Quds University, Seri Nusseibeh, following his participation in the conference, while the occupation is destroying Palestinians’ homes and expel elected members of the Palestinian Parliament (Legislative Council) (i.e., from Hamas) from the city. He said, ‘It is a disgrace that Nusseibeh is serving as president of the largest university while he plays a role of normalization with the occupation.'”

        Its damned if you do (1ss) and damned if you don’t (2ss).

      • LeaNder on March 9, 2012, 6:54 am

        Thanks, Hostage, shame on me, I should have taken a closer look. I have to admit it was a spontaneous shot from the hips. So yes they exist: Israel Palestine Confederation. And the protesters may have been recruited by Fatah ..?

        Complicated. I heard and read about these experiences, the conflict between the desire for dialogue on one side and the fear of betrayal, the suspicion someone only wants to sell Palestinian rights, on the other side. And the resulting group-pressure and fear.

        Problem is this group-pressure, only united we succeed, is on both sides:

        Do you think they will grant Mondoweiss press credentials?

        An interesting combination, threats & suspicion

        Part II – Meet the Special Guests, Writers and Editors of The Jerusalem Post

        First Panel – “Regional threats: The Iranian nuclear program, the Arab Spring and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict”

        Moderator: Caroline B. Glick – Jerusalem Post Senior Contributing Editor

      • Hostage on March 9, 2012, 10:50 am

        Do you think they will grant Mondoweiss press credentials?

        With the deck of speakers stacked that badly, I wonder if the Jerusalem Post deserves press credentials. Most of the participants belong in the dock at the Hague. If you’re the sort of person who worries about the possibility of divine or more mundane forms of retribution, you’d best avoid being under the same roof with that much bad karma;-)

      • Hostage on March 9, 2012, 11:07 am

        So yes they exist: Israel Palestine Confederation. And the protesters may have been recruited by Fatah ..?

        Yes the symbolic efforts to implement a 1ss are predictably triggering hate, discontent, and ankle biting from the largely symbolic 2ss resistance movements over the propriety of launching normalization efforts in light of the on-going state of affairs under the occupation.

      • LeaNder on March 9, 2012, 11:25 am

        Hmm? I should have used press card or press pass? I wondered about that. OK, i have to make another confession, I do not know how exactly it works in the US. All I know is that Jim Lobe is banned from AEI events, and surely all Mondoweiss members may be on a list to not even be allowed in, if they don’t exploit the advantage of the writing trade, and pay their way in like every ordinary citizen. ;)

      • Hostage on March 9, 2012, 1:05 pm

        Hmm? I should have used press card or press pass?

        No, I knew what you meant. I was just commenting that the moderators were more likely to be partisans than press in this instance.

  2. seafoid on March 8, 2012, 2:03 pm

    It’s also a nonviolent way of saying ” **** Israel” !

    I studied with one of Jacir sisters at Bir Zeit. They are related to the Jacirs from Bethlehem and are wonderful ambassadors for ahla Filisteen.

  3. Denis on March 9, 2012, 12:35 am

    The Israel Firster group Stand With US has a funny book, too. Have you seen it? Here is LogoPhere taking the mickey out of it.

    I’m not sure I get this “funnies” approach. This is not humor directed a nasty human behavior the way Doonsbury was directed at the VN war. This is not discourse. It is one-way, forced projection. Of course this example is not nearly as bad as “Captain Israel,” but maybe I don’t see it as bad because the opinions being pushed in Captain Israel are grossly offensive to me, whereas these certainly aren’t.

    But my point is political “funnies” that are not backed by humor strike me as propaganda. Maybe it’s because I got so much of it shoved down my throat as a kid in the 1950’s through Superman and WWII comics.

    Funnies should be funny, and using humor to fight apartheid or other malicious human behavior is a very, very difficult thing to pull off. It is sort of like I find Michael Moore’s techniques revolting for their cheap tactics, biased tenor, and gross polemic, while Jon Stewart, making the same points, often makes me think as I laugh.

    • Ethan Heitner on March 9, 2012, 7:58 am

      Hi Denis-
      Hopefully you see more differences between my comics and Captain Israel than just which side of the debate we are on. While I agree that satire is a great weapon, it’s not one that I always feel I have in my arsenal.

      Anyways, I’m using “funnies” a bit sarcastically and a bit in the sense of the word “comics”– they are not funny, they are not comic. But that’s what the artform is, from Joe Sacco and Chris Ware to Mutt and Jeff. Cartooning can have a wide variety of registers, targets, modes, just like writing prose. I thought it would be interesting to use my platform at Mondoweiss to interview Palestinian artists, and talk to them about making art under apartheid.

      I also really hate the use of “graphic novel” to mean comics that are serious.

    • Chaos4700 on March 9, 2012, 8:45 am

      There is no discourse with Israel’s supporters. You haven’t been in these types of forums very long, have you?

      • Ethan Heitner on March 9, 2012, 9:34 am

        Who is the Israel supporter you are referring to? I’m hoping not Denis, but all I read in their comment was a critique of the comics’ manner of presentation, not of the politics.
        I have been around these forums long enough to note that there may be a tendency to leap to attack anyone who offers dissenting viewpoints, which I think is unhealthy.

      • edwin on March 9, 2012, 10:49 am

        I think that is in part a function of the internet. As a medium it promotes debate or conflict. Nuances are much better done face to face.

        Interestingly I kind of agree with both of you – the need to tone down the attacks, and the frustration Chaos expresses.

        In one sense I know that Chaos is wrong. It is possible to discourse with Israel’s supporters – especially “liberal” Zionists. On the other hand it can be a project measured in years – and in a confrontational setting like this is just is not possible at all. So for all practical purposes I guess I fall into Chaos’ camp. It is interesting that I often seem to find myself there. An yet I have found myself quite put off by the easy tendency to attack anyone.

        The one area that I’ve seen very little on in the Palestinian conflict is what drives the supporters of Israel. What do they believe, and how do they think.

        provides some insite into what Chaos is saying – but I think that the comments

        DC: The right-wingers are more honest?

        GL: Exactly.

        should be a starting point, not an ending point. I don’t think we understand what liberal Zionists believe and why they are less honest than the right wing. The right wing will never ever be in our camp, but the liberal Zionists… one would think that we should be able to reach out – but it is as if a wall is there.

        My impression is that liberal Zionists are in a crisis where they are trying to reconcile two mutually opposing philosophies that can not be reconciled. One is obviously Zionism and the other I think can be called liberalism – universal human rights centered on the individual with the individual more important than the state.

    • Donald on March 9, 2012, 9:09 am

      I understand your points and agree with one of them. There are two that I see–

      1. You don’t like unsubtle nasty humor. Without necessarily agreeing about Michael Moore (I thought the Heston scene in his anti-gun movie was a cheap shot, but mostly I think he’s on target), I agree that humor that hits people over the head a little too hard or is offensive might sometimes do more harm than good.
      2. You think “funnies” should be funny. No disrespect intended, but that’s just your personal foible. It’s like me not caring for certain styles of music or art. This isn’t an argument at all–you’re just telling us your personal taste. There was nothing wrong with this piece–it conveys information, it’s not nasty, but you were hoping for Doonesbury.

  4. philweiss on March 9, 2012, 8:42 am

    I thought the icy quote balloon for Real Cool was pretty funny!

    • Ethan Heitner on March 9, 2012, 10:08 am

      Man, I was also pretty pleased with the drawing of the Israeli soldier using one hand as a hand-puppet with the tragedy and comedy theater masks. Tho maybe that was a stretch as a metaphor for how Israel uses cultural institutions to whitewash or distract.

      • philweiss on March 10, 2012, 11:10 am

        o i missed that on first viewing. that is very nice. though i felt the achievement there was the scary size of the dude coming over the building, which was enuf for me. but good funnies reward on second and third viewing.
        also, Ethan, thank you for saying people should be cordial and we should have wide ideological range of commenting. i think it may be impossible, but i am for it. i certainly get sick of what i think, and yes at times even of some commenters’ ideas…

  5. Denis on March 9, 2012, 5:59 pm

    @ Chaos: There is no discourse with Israel’s supporters.

    Except for someone trying to stretch my comment into grounds for a smear, I don’t think any reasonable person would read it as referring to a discourse with Israel’s supporters.

    Let me spell it out for you. What I had in mind was the discourse about the Israeli land-grab and the tragic way Israelis are treating and killing the Palestinians. IOW, the ongoing discourse between those of us who visit this site and who are trying to understand these issues so we can take actions we feel are appropriate, whether casting votes, sending Emails, offering financial support. . . whatever.

    Understanding the facts is hard enough with all of the conflicting assertions of what the facts are. My point is that adding fictional characters and fictional accounts to the mix is not helpful. Fiction only and always distorts truth based on the writer’s/artist’s perceptions of what the truth is, or what it should be.

    While the fiction may be beautifully executed and have immense aesthetic value, its validity as a medium for political discourse is questionable, in my opinion, whether it be Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 1984, or Captain Israel. With respect to “funnies” specifically, this problem is greatly exacerbated as can be illustrated by reviewing the way “funnies” were used to depict Jews in Europe in the early part of the 20th century. How different was that from using fictional cartoons to depict Israeli Jews in a bad light in this century? I’m not saying there is no difference; I’m asking.

    The problem is, I believe, that “funnies” appeal to half-functional, lazy minds that can’t be bothered sorting it all out. The kind of people who buy Playboy for the photographs and ignore the interviews with people like Malcom X and Ayn Rand.

    Ethan obviously saw my point and has clearly explained his, which I appreciate and understand.

    • Ethan Heitner on March 10, 2012, 10:40 am

      Ok, now I don’t understand you. At first I thought you were in favor of “Doonesbury”-style satire and I was like, yes, it would be awesome, I’m just not the artist to do it.

      Now you are rejecting fiction entirely as a medium for artistic expression regarding politics? I’m not even going to engage with that, it seems too absurd on the face of it. Suffice to say I actually credit much of my development as an anti-Zionist Jew to reading Hebrew and Arabic literature, from A.B. Yehoshua’s “Facing the Forest” to Anton Shammas’ “Arabesques” to Elias Khoury’s “Gate of the Sun.” I think fiction is incredibly powerful, precisely because facts can be contested.

      But I’m not even sure why you bring that up in this discussion, because these particular “Freedom Funnies” comics are non-fiction interviews with actual people. It leads me to suspect that you took one look at the word “Funnies” in the title, immediately lept to your pre-conceptions of what a comic is, and failed to read the comic in front of you.

      And then you end by pissing on my entire medium. Of course, if you believe that “‘funnies’ appeal to half-functional, lazy minds that can’t be bothered sorting it all out” I’m not sure why I’m bothering to talk to you. You’re the literary snob version of a Zionist claiming that all Arabs are racist bloodthirsty savages ;).

      • Denis on March 11, 2012, 2:46 pm

        @ Ethan: And then you end by pissing on my entire medium.

        Ethan, pah-leezzze. I was not “pissing on” your medium. Read what I said. . .

        I was pissing on your audience: people who think that reading comics is reading. Maybe comics like yours is the only way to get such people engaged in important topics. Most of them are, I suspect, teenagers or younger, which is why, in the context of Captain Israel, I have referred to such comics as pedo-propaganda.

        Political comics are propaganda. People justify producing such propaganda or reading it on the basis that, well, it’s my position, which is obviously the right one, therefore, it’s OK to caricature the other side.

        In this particular case, are the words you ascribe to Ms. Jacir propaganda? Not if they accurately quote or paraphrase what she said. I would consider that a form of reporting.

        Is the caricature of the IDF guy propaganda? Of course it is. And it’s not something I think should be a part of a rational and honest discourse on the problems Ms. Jacir’s story raises.

        And so when you refer to this comic as a “non-fiction interview”, you are clearly misrepresenting what it is, unless that IDF soldier was a part of the interview. Your comic comprises more than just the words in the dialog bubbles.

        I have argued long and hard about the deleterious effects of SWU’s Captain Israel pedo-propaganda initiative. I would be a hypocrite to ignore the same tactics from the other side of the Israeli apartheid issue, your good intentions – or theirs – notwithstanding.

      • annie on March 11, 2012, 3:47 pm

        denis, your comments are insulting. seems like a strange battle you’ve chosen here.

        I would be a hypocrite to ignore the same tactics from the other side of the Israeli apartheid issue

        as the Captain Israel comic? what.ever. i have nothing more to say to you.

      • Ethan Heitner on March 11, 2012, 11:05 pm

        Yeah, so, in the past 30-40 years most people have realized that comics, as a medium, are not an inherently “simpler” or “easier” artform suitable only for children or simpletons. There have been a staggering number of beautiful counterexamples of adult, intelligent, complicated comics and it’s a little silly to still have to be making this argument in 2012. Suffice to say I recommend you get yourself to a library or bookstore. You’ll have to figure out what your tastes are, but some of my favorite complicated, adult cartoonists are:
        Chris Ware, Eddie Campbell, David B. (French cartoonist), David Mazzuchelli (Asterios Polyp), Seth Tobocman (check out his War in the Neighborhood), Joe Sacco, Art Spiegelman, etc. etc.

        Really, check them out, you’ll be doing yourself a favor. I’m not going to make any claims about my work in particular, but again, you aren’t talking about my work, you are making very broad assertions about the medium I work in.

        Unrelated is your question of propaganda.

        Propaganda can also be for adults, you know.
        I think you are raising interesting points about fiction vs. documentary nature. It is true: I am taking the recorded words of an interview with Annemarie Jacir and adding a layer of interpretive drawing in order (I hope) to augment, clarify, and add visual impact to her words.

        I don’t think that’s a bad thing tho. I don’t think propaganda is necessarily a dirty word. I’m really dedicated to the idea that visuals can make complicated ideas easier to understand, can add clarity, can make things memorable, beautiful, etc. I think that is the basic principle behind all graphic design, and I think it is sort of inescapable:
        you actually literally cannot present “just the truth,” “the bare facts” without embedded it in some sort of style, some sort of presentation– even a plain sheet of white paper with words printed on it is a visual presentation that haselements one can make conscious choices about. As we used to say in my lit theory classes, the thing about “style” and “content” is that that they are the same. You cannot separate them cleanly.

        To me, the problem with Captain Israel is not that it is propaganda. The problem is that it is poorly done, aesthetically ugly propaganda espousing a hateful rhetoric.

      • Denis on March 11, 2012, 11:41 pm

        Just a couple quick notes in response, Ethan. I know you’re getting tired of me. Annie has already scraped me off the bottom of her shoe.

        Captain Israel:
        poorly done — check.
        ugly — double check
        espousing a hateful rhetoric — oh, man, did you get that right.

        Favorite cartoonists:
        I hope you missed Shel Silverstein because you’re too young to remember him. One of the most beautiful people ever to push a loaded nib across a sheet of paper. Different Dancers.

    • Donald on March 10, 2012, 11:16 am

      “Understanding the facts is hard enough with all of the conflicting assertions of what the facts are. My point is that adding fictional characters and fictional accounts to the mix is not helpful. ”

      As Ethan says, this has nothing at all to do with his piece, which is non-fiction.

      But it’s an interesting point and I feel the same way to some extent. All the same, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” had a revolutionary effect on the slavery debate in the US and for a very good reason–in its sentimentalized way (standard for 19th century fiction) it conveyed the fact which apparently many whites at the time hadn’t really thought about that the slaves were human beings and some of them were willing to take heroic risks for the sake of freeing themselves and their children. Personally I prefer a factual report on actual human rights violations as opposed to a fictional account where someone could dismiss as the product of someone’s imagination, but when I read Stowe’s book some years ago I could see why it had the impact it did.

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