Political Development in Naji Al-Ali’s Cartoons

Discussion Committee: 
Prof. Abdul- Sattar Kassem
Khalid Mohammad Ahmad Alfaqeah
This study addresses the role that Naji Al-Ali’s cartoons play in enhancing the public’s political awareness in the Palestinian society and other societies. It also sheds light on these cartoons’ contribution in raising people’s awareness of their different issues. Besides, it links between impact of these cartoons on political development, democracy, unity and nationalism. The study is premised on two basic assumptions. First, the Al-Ali’s cartoons influenced the audiences in general and the Palestinian and Arab political leaders in particular. His cartons made them more determined in the struggle for their national rights. Second, Al-Ali’s cartoons succeeded in depicting the concerns of the Arab citizens, enhance their awareness of their difficult reality and encouraged them to act to change this reality on various levels, socially, culturally and politically. The influence of Al-Ali’s cartoons was not time-bound. Rather, it influenced audiences long after they had been produced. This study is the first one of its kind. No previous studies have been conducted by Palestinian or Arab scholars on this topic. In preparing this study the author relied on studies that tackled Al-Ali’s cartoons in general without linking them to political development. In addition, he made some c interviews with interested persons and specialists. This makes the study unique and encourages researchers build on it and expand on the main theme and other subsidiary themes of the study. The study is divided into seven chapters. Chapter one sheds light on the life of Naji Al-Ali. It traces his life progression since he was born in the village of al-Shajarah in the Galilee in 1936 until his assassination in London in 1987. Important events that influenced Al-Ali’s art are highlighted. These events include his exodus from Palestine in 1948, the Lebanese civil war, the evolution of Arab Nationalism in the past century, and the various ups and downs on the Palestine Question. Chapter two is prelude for the chapters that follow. It elaborates on the role of symbols and other tools that Al-Ali created and employed to serve the goals of his art. These symbols include Hanzalah, the kind man, big-bellied men, the black and white colors and the symbolic language. Chapter three discusses the stands of Al-Ali in relation to the Arab- Israeli conflict and the way the PLO and Arab regimes dealt with the conflict. Of importance to this chapter is Al-Ali’s view regarding the right of return and the UN resolutions that undermine the right of the Palestinians to build their state on their historic territory. Chapter four is dedicated to the PLO and its political and democratic practices. It shows how Al-Ali’s cartoons portray the administrative and financial transparency in the PLO’s institutions. Additionally, the chapter d sheds light on attempts by Palestinians to create normal relations with Israel. Chapter five shows how Al-Ali’s cartoons mirror his own stand in relation to some Arab and international developments that affect the Palestine Question. These include the political and social changes that took place in the neighboring countries ( Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt) and the effect of that on the Palestine Question and the Arab unity and nationalism. The political developments in Egypt since the 1952 Egyptian Revolution until President Mubarak assumed office and the impact of these development, especially the signing of the Camp David Agreement, are also discussed in this chapter. Chapter six deals with the oil production in the Gulf Countries and its utilization to serve the Palestine Question. The war between Iraq and Iran is another subtopic that the chapter discusses. Al-Ali viewed that war as a deviation from the right path of struggle. Chapter seven explains Al-Ali’s stand towards some countries like the United States and his dismay from this country because of its unlimited and unconditional support to Israel. This applied partially to the Soviet Union. The study concludes with some recommendations and asserts the importance of Al-Ali’s cartoons in raising the public’s political awareness.
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