Saturday, April 4, 2009

Handala - The 10-year-old child

Resistance and rebellion usually occurs because someone somewhere is resisting something. People who resist simply do not want to be exploited and do not want their human rights and freedoms violated. It is when this resistance grows and festers that organization of individuals is possible.

In Palestine/Israel people are resisting because they feel that their human rights and freedoms are being violated and thus have began forming several personal organization. The majority of the peace organizations that stem out of Palestine and throughout the world put forth the value that people should stand united to defend human rights and freedoms. These organizations have grown so large that now thousands of people throughout the world try to stand in unity for those people living in Palestine/Israel who suffer every single day.

One organization in specific which has gained a lot of momentum and popularity within the past couple of years is the Palestinian cartoon character, Handala.

Naji Al-Ali started off by drawing cartoon comics that appeared in the daily newspaper in Palestine which depicted the complexities of the plight of the Palestinian refugees. At the end of every comic strip he left his signigature, which was the picture of a little-barefooted-boy giving his back to the world. What started off as something as simple as a hobbie for illustrations has turned into the world's symbol of hoping that one day there will peace between Israelis and Palestinians. These old cartoons are still very much relevant today and Handala, the refugee child who is present in every cartoon strip, remains a powerful symbol of the struggle of the Palestinian people for justice and self-determination.

“His name is Handala and he has promised the people that he will remain true to himself. I drew him as a child who is not beautiful; his hair is like the hair of a hedgehog who uses his thorns as a weapon. Handala is not a fat, happy, relaxed, or pampered child. He is barefooted like the refugee camp children, and he is an icon that protects me from making mistakes. Even though he is rough, he smells of amber. His hands are clasped behind his back as a sign of rejection at a time when solutions are presented to us the American way."

Handala was born as a ten year old child and he will always remain ten. This is because Handala left his homeland at age ten and when he returns he will still be ten. It is only when he returns to his homeland that he will start growing up again. The laws of nature do not apply to him because he is unique. Things will only become normal again when the homeland returns back to peace and the Palestinian and Israeli people are no longer fighting.

Al-Ali presented him to the poor and named him Handala as a symbol of bitterness. At first, he was only a Palestinian child but his consciousness developed enough to have a national and then a global and human horizon. He is a simple yet tough child. This is why people adopted him.