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Cartooning in Conflict
Chicago Nov. 4-6

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19/10/2008

Engaging caricaturists in the struggle for peace

 

I was one day zapping around the piles of daily e-mails and quickly deciding which one deserves an answer, which one a rapid glimpse, which a thorough read and which would be buried in the eternal dust of nothingness. Among the most welcome mails the ones that are arriving from rainy Brussels carefully selected and recommended articles by Simone Susskind, a Belgian Jewess who mobilized herself since many years in the service of the Peace Movement from a proud Zionist and Humanist intellectual position. I always find Simone's recommendations worthy. I can neither forget that she was the one that awarded us, the PCFF, the SOLIDAR distinction at the European Parliament.
And here we receive, via Simone Susskind, a communication on a very special gathering in Israel and the Palestinian Territories under the title Cartooning for Peace. The gathering will take place, so it is announced, in historical cities on both sides of the divide: Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem and.Holon. I finally found my hometown, Holon, interwoven in the distinguished map of the peace efforts. Wow!! I was so proud! I knew that I would find it very difficult to participate, as the information reached me so late, but shouldn't I try to participate in the "Holon chapter"? At the local National Museum for Caricatures and Comics? The Museum is actually at a spitting distance from my home, so the effort should not be too heavy.
After taking the strategic decision, a tactic is still to be taken. How do you get an invitation? I remembered that I actually doodle as most people do and as a matter of fact I can claim that "I am in the art of doodling" and don't caricaturists doodle? And besides that I recalled that we in the PCFF also invest some energies in the struggle for peace and in thinking about reconciliation don't we?
Full with self confidence that these two arguments supplied, I came into the museum. The place is rather new, and it places Holon in a distinguished place among other Israeli towns, and some other minor towns on the planet like London, Paris and Brussels, where you might also find museums devoted to the art of caricature. The museum in Holon is pretty and you'll find there exhibitions showing the rich Israeli tradition and history of caricatures and comics and specially the outstanding role that they played in shaping the intelligent public opinion. And so, wandering around the museum I went by some of the most admired and world known caricaturists, like the French Plantu and Wiaz, the American Jeff Danziger, the Swiss Chappatte, the Turk Izel Rozental and No-Rio from Japan.


When the discussion opened, the whole group of outstanding caricaturists, active participants in the gathering, sat in front of the audience. The group of western caricaturists was joined by an impressive group of Arab artists: the Egyptian George Baghory, the Algerian Dilem, the Palestinians Khalil Abu-Arafeh, Baha Boukhari and Ramzy Al-Taweel and a not less important group of Israeli caricaturists like Michel Kishka, Shay Charka, Daniela London-Dekel, Avi Katz and Uri Fink.

 I sat in the last row, dictated by a well earned modesty but ready to listen and learn.
And here comes Moti Sasson, Holon's mayor, who is praised by all for the initiative to build a comics museum in Holon and to turn the city into a cultural center. The man gets up to congratulate and suddenly decides to mark the fact that I'm there. He spoke about Noam my dear, our activity for Peace and created a space for my congratulations and made it possible for me to speak and tell about the PCFF and the alliance we are looking for to promote the idea of Peace and Reconciliation.
Suddenly the PCFF got a sudden, unexpected and significant public relations boost.
After I created a basic relationship with some of the key people in the caricature world and said my goodbyes the telephone rang and on the other side was our own Robi Robi doesn't rest and thinks incessantly how to yield utilities for the PCFF and here she shoots her idea:" Why won't we ?"

I won't tell you yet the idea, I just stormed back to the group I parted from and put out the idea in brief and of course everybody was enthused by it and now there is a basis for a new coalition with this important group to influence the people around us and to bring them a bit closer to the idea of Peace and Reconciliation.
And the idea?
When it will be fleshed out - we'll tell!!!

Aaron Barnea.

 

 The Israel Cartoon Museum








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