I have been waiting until the right moment to introduce you to Handala, also written as Hanthala [see this book review]. He caught my eye in the first week or so of my time here. Other Ecumenical Accompaniers, who had met him previously, told me two things about Hanthala: (i) he will only grow up after the Occupation ends; and (ii) we will only see his face once the Occupation ends.
Who is Hanthala? He is the cartoon creation of Naji al-Ali, a man who was born in Palestine and who became a refugee in 1948. At that time, he was 10 years old. He grew up in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon and spent much of his adult life in Kuwait as well as Lebanon. He was assassinated in London in 1987, just a few months before the First Intifada began.
Naji al-Ali described Hanthala as his signature in his political cartoons. Hanthala is a 10-year old and a critical watcher not only of the Israeli State but also of the wealthy Arab elite across the Middle East.
Even though al-Ali died almost 24 years ago, Hanthala continues to watch. I have seen him watching from many walls in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. As we all watch the Middle East, particularly how the events in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon may impact Palestine and Israel, I will continue to post images of Hanthala…watching.