By Mike V. Derderian
Over the past month, caricaturists of different nationalities have been unanimous in targeting the bulk of their output to the suffering of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, and to highlighting their steadfastness in standing up to the Israeli aggression. Cartoonists from Yemen, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan, Pakistan, Algiers, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Canada, Thailand, Brazil and Mongolia have expressed in their drawings the human trait of compassion for the trodden and anger against injustice and aggression.
They have all been chronicling the atrocities committed by Israel in Gaza in its latest onslaught on the Strip which lasted 22 days. The 3-day International Caricature Exhibition for Gaza was held at the Professional Associations Complex where 69 caricaturists exhibited 138 works depicting the traumatic and heroic epic of Gaza, and decrying the official Arab and world indifference to the suffering of the Palestinians.
According to the renowned ad-Dustour caricaturist Jalal Al-Rifai, drawing caricatures about Palestine has been an ongoing process for him.
?An event forces itself upon a caricaturist; what is happening in Gaza and Palestine is not new. It has been going on forever. Caricaturists have been drawing about the Palestinian cause since its start,? Rifai, talking to The Star, explained, before adding, ?As caricaturists, we have been appalled by what has happened in Gaza. It is a humanitarian catastrophe of immense proportions and it won?t end with the end of the Israeli aggression.?
Solidarity with the Palestinian cause and with the people of Gaza is no longer an issue of doubt as online resistance and the works of the 69 caricaturists revealed to visitors that there are individuals who do not condone the policies of their government.
One caricature depicts Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak swallowing the key to the Rafah Crossing and another depicts Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan teaching a class of lazy students?Arabs?the true meaning of Arab Pride.
A barrage of Israeli bombs that tore the hearts and homes of Gazans were among the predominant themes of the exhibited caricatures which captured the ugliness of the Israeli aggression and the double standards of the international community on top of which is the United Nations and its security council.
?To hold such an exhibition with 69 caricaturists in such a record time is quite an achievement. It was a great experience with nationalistic dimensions. The event was the result of cooperation between the Jordanian Caricaturists Association and the Jordanian Engineers Association in addition to caricaturists from all over the world,? Rifai said.
Muntadhar Al-Zaidee?s shoe-throwing at George W. Bush was re-captured by one caricaturist who decided to fling a shoe at the United Nations insignia. Another caricaturist drew a huge bomb being dropped by an Israeli warplane towards Gaza, with the words International Silence written on it.
Emad Hajjaj, Omar Al-Abdallat, Satso Firas Na?oof, Hana Hajar, Carlos Latuf, Hussein Bleibel, Mahmoud Al-Hindawi, Shujat Ali Shamshand, in addition to Rifai were among the 69 caricaturists whose works screamed at unmoving Arabs, wept for Gaza?s children and denounced what is happening.
A Gazan with his head on an executioner?s block is awaiting the fall of a symbolic axe?the Israeli flag?on his neck. Needless to say that the axe has fallen a long time ago but the neck is still holding.
Caricatures according to Rifai are the truthful manifestations of their creators? emotions. ?The art of caricature is a medium that doesn?t require knowledge or a grasp of any language in particular. It is an international language like music; what made this exhibition unique is the richness of the works and styles of the artists involved,? Rifai explained.
According to www.arabcartoon.net a website dedicated to Arab caricatures and caricaturists, which helped in holding the event, the organizers of the exhibition are seeking the written approval of the participating caricaturists in order to publish their works in a book dedicated to Gaza?the proceeds from the book sale will be donated to the families of the Palestinian martyrs, who died in the recent Israeli aggression.
The 138 caricatures are available online at www.arabcartoon.net. Without the Internet, contacting all these caricaturists in such short notice according to Rifai would have been impossible. ?What took us three days would have taken us four months under ordinary circumstances. We just contacted the caricaturists and asked them to send their works, which we then printed and framed. Things have changed and now you are able see the works of others at the push of a button,? said Rifai, acknowledging that the majority of the caricaturists who participated in the 3-day exhibition already know each other.
?We are always in touch and follow up on each other?s works,? Rifai concluded
Source: “The Star”, Amman, 26 January 2009