Friday, March 9, 2007

Handela and his key


Most of you have probably heard of the above Edward Said mural at SFSU and the president's refusal to display it. If you haven't signed the petition yet, please take a minute to do so.


So, what's new about the story? Marya took the time to write to the President of SFSU and she forwarded his reply to a bunch of us. The petition does mention that the President had an issue with the Handela cartoon and the key in the mural. Still, I was furious when I read the President's reply. I thought I had heard all the Zionists lies and distortions, but I was wrong.

Below in italics is the interesting portion of President Corrigan's reply (emphasis mine):

Both the artist and the Student Center Governing Board knew many months ago that the real issue was the conflict-centered nature of the overall piece, strongly illustrated in the cartoon figure of Handala and the key he holds. Handela is a figure not just of political protest but of violence, often depicted in violent acts against Israel. The key symbolizes the Palestinians' "right to return," which is viewed by many – both Palestinian and Israeli – as meaning the de facto end of the Israeli State. Such images run counter to the basic purpose of these murals: celebration of the extraordinary ethnic and cultural diversity that characterizes San Francisco State University and not the fighting of international political battles, which is best left to another venue. Such images run counter to the basic purpose of these murals: celebration of the extraordinary ethnic and cultural diversity that characterizes San Francisco State University and not the fighting of international political battles, which is best left to another venue.


For those of you unfamiliar with Handela (his name roughly translates to bitterness), he is the little cartoon on the right of the mural: the barefoot boy in a tshirt and shorts. As a Palestinian, one who is not particularly nationalistic, I relate more to Handela that to the Palestinian flag or national anthem. I suspect many Palestinians feel the same way.

This article does a good job of summing up Naji Al Ali's (the cartoonist behind Handela) life and this is a statement in Al Ali's own words describing why he created Handela.


Handela, Mr. Corrigan, does not represent violence. He represents the desperate Palestinian refugee kid, in Lebanon, or Gaza, or Jordan or Syria, who has his hands clasped behind his back as a sign of helplessness, and who is looking away into the horizon in hope of finding a better, brighter future for him and his people. He represents the lives and struggles of millions of Palestinians. How dare you Mr. President accuse Handela of being a symbol of violence!


As for the key Handela is carrying; Mr. Corigan, have you ever heard of UN General Assembly Resolution 194 dated December 1948? The UN General assembly affirmed the internationally recognized right of return and declared that " refugees wishing to return to their homes and live in peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so".


You claim Mr. Corigan that the right of return is viewed by many as the end of the Israeli State. I disagree. The right of return is viewed as the end of the Jewish-exlusivity of the Israeli State. It is the end of the racism and oppression of the Israeli State.

The Edward Said mural was designed to celebrate Palestinian identity and culture. Nothing better symbolizes Palestinians, wherever they may be, than Handela and his key. They are as Palestinian as the olive tree.

3 comments:

Affad Shaikh said...

My friend wrote a letter, here is his appeal to his friends.

Please do something for this mural!


Asalaam u alaikum,

I hardly ever write emails, but I thought I would share this with all of you. About a week or so ago, Affad wrote a letter to San Francisco State University President Robert Corrigan urging him to keep the Edward Said/ Palestine mural as is.

Get the background of whats going on at my blog: http://reconnected.wordpress.com/2007/03/15/45/

Affad's action inspired me to write my own letter. Forwarded to you all is the letter I sent to President Corrigan this morning.

I didnt realize how important this is until right now. If approved, it will be the first mural depicting the struggle of the Palestinian people on a United States university campus. A permanent, public presentation on school grounds speaks louder than university lectures/events dominated by arab/muslim audiences.

See what you can do....even if its signing the petition http://www.petitiononline.com/mural/ or writing a letter of your own or spreading the word....or making du'a

Salaam and love

Naveed

naveed said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
naveed said...

salam

you can check out the letter i wrote
to sfsu president on my blog:

http://reconnected.wordpress.com/

post: "my letter to the president"

naveed