Monday, February 26, 2007

Jordan Times: Brazilian cartoonist highlights Palestinian plight

By Cheryl Haines
Jordan Times

AMMAN — Vibrant, evocative and politically resonant, Carlos Latuff’s cartoons lend an artistic hand to the often under represented plight of Palestinians living in the occupied territories.

Starting today and running until Wednesday, “Relentless Resistance in Palestine", a collection of the political cartoonist’s works will be on display at the Foresight Art Centre.

Bringing the renowned Brazilian’s works to Amman is attributed to three Jordanian friends living in Amman whose relatives were a part of the mass migration of Palestinians to Jordan and other countries in the region through the past half-century.

“When we first had a look at his cartoons we were inspired,” one of the Jordanian organisers who wished to remain anonymous told The Jordan Times, “[Latuff] is not an Arab and he has nothing to do with the region, but he still wants to make the suffering heard… to show the world the truth about the way the media portrays Palestine.”

Contributing his works for free, the three friends received Latuff’s permission and support before they began organising the exhibition. He provided high-resolution soft copies of his works, which were then complied and printed through funding provided by the three organisers and private donors.

A compilation of the works on display will be on sale at the exhibition hall as will various prints from Latuff’s collections printed on T-shirts and mugs. All proceeds from the sales will go to benefit the Palestine Children’s Welfare Fund, a regional charity going to benefit the youngest citizens in the occupied territories.

Since a visit to the West Bank in 1999, Latuff has dedicated a great deal of his artistic energy to exploring the lives of Palestinians through his creative know-how.

His “Tales of Iraq” series, detailing the political, social and economic upheaval of the country, was inspired in 2003 shortly after the American invasion.

Latuff’s dedication, however, transcends his creative works. He has similarly committed himself to political activism, raising awareness of the region’s conflicts in his native country and exploring past conflicts and regional inequalities around the world.

In a series titled “We are all Palestinians” Latuff depicts various ethnic groups in solidarity with Palestine’s occupation. The series’ cartoons depicts Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, Black South Africans under the Apartheid system, Native North American and Tibetans in China. All of these groups are drawn saying “I am Palestinian.”

In the “Forgiveness” series, his cartoons display Muslims and Jews quoting words of tolerance from various philosopher-kings, among them Buddha and Gandhi.

Latuff’s cartoons, however, have not been immune to sporadic criticism. In 2006, he attended the Iranian “International Holocaust Cartoon Competition”, organised as a rebuff against the controversy surrounding the Danish cartoon’s depiction of the Prophet Mohammad. He placed second at the competition where his cartoon illustrated a comparison between the West Bank’s separation wall and Nazi concentration camps. Past works have also illustrated negative images of former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

“Our aim is to bring awareness towards the inequality of Palestinian suffering and in the process raise urgently needed funds,” one of the organisers explained.

“We started small, but in the future hopefully we can bring his works to other countries.”

Until now, Latuff’s works have only been publicly displayed in Gaza and Iran, although his works have been published in various publications and websites, including the Independent Media Centre. His cartoons can also be found online at: