Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Skylight Books Spotlights Author Joe Sacco Reading from Footnotes in Gaza

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Skylight Books Spotlights Author Joe Sacco Reading from Footnotes in Gaza

Article excerpt

HAD HARPER'S Magazine not deleted paragraphs describing the 1956 murders of 275 unarmed Palestinian men at Khan Younis in a piece he collaborated on with journalist Chris Hedges, Joe Sacco might not have created his illustrated book, Footnotes in Gaza (available from the AET Book Club). Sacco chose the title because the massacre barely appears as a footnote in historical texts dealing with that year's Suez Canal crisis.

During a Jan. 19 appearance at Skylight Books in Los Angeles, Sacco said he became aware of the largest mass murder of Palestinians when he read a reference to the Nov. 3, 1956 incident in Noam Chomsky's The Fateful Triangle. Israel dismissed the charges of a massacre by claiming its IDF troops had retaliated against armed Palestinian resistance, but elderly witnesses told Sacco a far different story.

The award-winning graphic journalist said he couldn't forget the words of Hamas official Abed El-Aziz Rantisi, who was 9 years old when his uncle was executed in the massacre. "This sort of action can never be forgotten...[T]hey planted hatred in our hearts," stated Rantisi, who, after his 2003 conversation with Sacco, was assassinated by an Israeli missile.

When Sacco launched his research in 2002, Gazans voiced their impatience by asking why he was digging into the past when much more terrible atrocities were taking place, as Israelis bulldozed entire neighborhoods in Rafah, carried out targeted assassinations and "disappeared" men in nightly raids of homes.

It was during these interviews that Sacco uncovered a second massacre, on Nov. 12, 1956, in Rafah, in which Israeli troops shot or beat to death 111 Palestinian men. Over the course of several months, Sacco interviewed dozens of elderly people who were in the towns during the mass murders. His drawings of individuals and use of close-ups and aerial sketches make his comic book narratives more vivid than any news story.

The Israeli response to United Nations complaints was no different in 1956 than it is today: total denial. While the Zionists claimed Palestinians shot at them, in all the separate interviews Sacco conducted, he heard the same recollection of unarmed men being dragged from their homes or peaceably following directions to assemble at a given spot-where they were systematically shot.

Central Asian Exhibit Opens

Eurasian herders' exotic robes and domestic ornaments make for breathtaking eye candy in an exhibition running through May 9 at Los Angeles' Craft and Fine Art Museum (CAFAM), located at 5814 Wilshire Blvd. Entitled "Bold Abstractions: Textiles from Central Asia and Iran," the collection features costumes and fabrics from the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries.

Aesthetically appealing felt tent accessories, embroidered Turkmen mantles and a wide variety of headgear vie with Uzbek ikat-dyed robes and silk gowns from Samarkand to capture viewers' admiration.

Silver-gilt, gem-inlaid ornaments signifying gender, age and clan identities are on display, along with wall hangings of stylized animal and vegetal motifs. Best of all, contemporary handmade robes and jewelry are available in the museum gift shop.

For information on museum hours and related lectures and programs, visit .

Palestine Water Crisis

Joshua Rubenstein, northwest regional director of Amnesty International, described Israel's unfair system of water distribution to settlers and Palestinians in a depressing, bare facts presentation Jan. …

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