Palestine, Joe Sacco’s masterpiece

This article is also available in: Italiano

The Maltese cartoonist drags us to the Palestinian refugee camps of the second Intifada, where normality is tragic.

Palestine in its entirety

A severe and detailed reportage of the conditions of the Palestinians during the second Intifada, Joe Sacco ventures throughout Palestine in search of his inhabitants, his people. What he shows us is the everyday reality of those who live there, including humiliations and suffering. Joe Sacco travels from north to south moving through refugee camps to villages now besieged by settlers.

An animated cartoon


What struck me most about this graphic novel was Sacco’s ability to make all the characters three-dimensional. There is not a single Arab or Israeli man or woman who does not have a characteristic trait or something to say, either as head or body. The characters are very faithful to reality and also express an innate physicality. In this graphic novel we can dive 360 ° into Palestine, sensorially it is incredible. Very few times I found myself so involved in a written work, especially from a comic book, an incredible work.

Never banal

From the first to the last bar Sacco is never banal, managing to frame the various thoughts without trivializing them or making them monotonous. Of course some things repeat themselves but it is the reality of the facts. Sacco doesn’t want to create something new but wants to show you what he saw. Even when Israelis speak, we notice incredible realism. Of course “Palestine” speaks of the Palestinians but the author never does anything to deny it. We can also see this when, at the end of the comic, he meets 2 Israeli girls. Simple, honest and impartial.

Edward Said replies


I also appreciated very much how the work, in a certain sense, opens and closes with Edward Said, one of the greatest Palestinian writers of the 1900s. During the trip Sacco tells how his love for the writer drove him to visit Palestine. At the end of the book there is then an afterword by Said himself who wishes to thank the author for the light he was able to give to Palestine with his report. Spectacular

Palestine speaks of the Palestinians, this I want to specify because it is true. If you are strong supporters of Israel, you will see many things that mortify Israel and show it as a monster. But this is what Sacco has witnessed and does nothing to sweeten it. At the end of the comic Joe Sacco chats with 2 Israeli girls who tell him that they are “tired” of hearing all these things about Israel, the hope is that they will stop if they are “tired”.

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