By Naji al-Ali
Preface by Joe Sacco
Available for the first time, a collection of the art of the Arab world’s greatest and most radical cartoonist, Naji al-Ali. Dubbed the Palestinian Malcolm X, and revered throughout the region for his outspokenness, honesty and humanity, al-Ali enjoyed a thirty-year career as a political cartoonist that would see his artwork published daily in newspapers from Cairo to Beirut, London to Paris.
Naji al-Ali’s images continue to have a powerful resonance, especially in light of the recent Israeli offensive in Gaza. His work from the early 1980s, drawn in response to the infamous massacre of Palestinians at Sabra and Shatila camps, captures – even today – the plight of ordinary and impoversished refugees.
He was described by The Guardian as “the nearest thing there is to an Arab public opinion”. Resolutely independent and unaligned to any political party, Naji al-Ali strove to speak to and for the ordinary Arab people and was critical of not only the state of Israel and the brutality of the Israeli army but also of Palestinian leadership and Arab regimes.
On July 22nd, 1987 he was shot in the head by a lone gunman as he was going to work at the London office of the Kuwaiti newspaper, Al-Qabas. After five weeks in coma he died on 30th August at the age of 51. Ten months after his death, police arrested a Palestinian student who confessed that he worked for Mossad, whom (he claimed) were aware of the plot to kill the cartoonist. In response, Britain expelled two Israeli diplomats and closed down Mossad’s last base.
Now, 22 years later the publication of A Child in Palestine celebrates his life and legacy. Hanthala, the small refugee boy, dressed in rags, can be found everywhere throughout Palestine, especially in the refugee camps where his image is a potent symbol of Palestinian resistance and defiance against all odds.
- The book is now available to buy in the UK in all good bookshops and online