Having spoken a lot about cartoons in class, I decided to research some Israeli/Palestinian cartoons. One of the most interesting things I came across was a little cartoon character by the name of Handala. Created by the late Palestinian cartoonist Naji Al-Ali, Handala is a ten-year-old boy who is always depicted with his back to the viewer and his hands folded behind his back. He is generally just standing and watching, but occasionally is involved in the action.
Cartoons featuring Handala are often critical of Israel but also of Palestinian and Arab politicians and leaders. Handala’s position, with back turned and hands clasped, indicates the cartoonist’s views that an outside solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is not possible, and that the answer must come from within the two nations.
What struck me the most about Handala is the way he is still used as a symbol of Palestinian identity in cartoons, graffiti, and other artistic works, even after the death of his author. Handala has become somewhat of a meme, in that his caricature is reproduced and placed in various different settings. Check out Naji Al-Ali’s original Handala cartoons here.