||Challenging myths and presenting facts about
leading cartoonist: “I believe Israel should not exist….”
|London - published on 14 January
Beyond Images Ref: 39
Omayya Juha’s influence on Palestinian
media and society
Omayya Juha is the Palestinians’ most well-known cartoonist.
A 30 year old mother and devout Muslim, she draws cartoons for
al-Hayyat al Jadida, the official newspaper of the Palestinian
Authority. Recognised on the street in the Gaza Strip where
she lives, she won an award in 2001 for being the best cartoonist
anywhere in the Arab world.
Her work satirises the Palestinian Authority, mocks the Arab
nations for their failure to support the Palestinian people,
and vilifies Israel (though without using the crude anti-semitic
imagery seen in many newspapers in the Arab world). Her work
is widely considered to reflect the mood and attitudes of the
In an interview which was published in the Jerusalem Post magazine
on 8 November 2002, she provided the following insights into
her basic beliefs:-
Returning to the Palestinians’ homes pre-1948….
Omayya Juha was brought up in the belief that her grandparents
had been forced out of their village in 1948, and that it had
been replaced by an Israeli moshav (Moshav Tekuma), which is
within the borders of pre-1967 Israel.
A consistent theme in her cartoons is that of an elderly, one-legged
man, clutching on to a key - symbolising his belief that he
will one day be able to return to the home he left in 1948.
In one cartoon (described in the Jerusalem Post, and available
via her website) the key hangs on one of four strings of barbed
wire that pierce a bleeding heart in the shape of Israel.
The underlying idea is clear: that the Palestinians have a
right of return to all of Israel; that the Palestinians will
continue to claim that right, no matter how unrealistic it has
become; and that exercising that right “pierces”
the “heart” of Israel…
On Israel’s Right to Exist ….
Juha is explicit in her position on Israel’s right to
“I believe Israel should not exist. There are Jews -
Neturei Karta - who don’t recognise the State of Israel.
And you want me to recognise it? I am the owner of the land.
Jews should live in the land as citizens, not as a country…
Hamas, Fatah, all these factions have the same ideology. They
want all the homeland, all Palestine. I don’t accept a
division of the land. I don’t want a return only to the
On compromise with Israel…
Given the above, it is hardly surprising that Omayya Juha opposes
any compromise with Israel:-
“I don’t support normalisation of our relations
with Israelis. They stole our land, they expelled us, they killed
our children and brothers…. It is obvious that all deals
[with Israel] are only ink on paper. There is no peace. There
will be no peace between the occupier and the occupied….
My pen is my weapon. Like a gun. Some people told me that my
pen is an uprising pen. I will not betray my people. We will
continue the intifada until we liberate the land….”
Beyond Images conclusion
Omayya Juha is not a Palestinian politician, but her ideas reflect
popular Palestinian feeling.
She rejects coexistence with Israel; she rejects
a two-state solution; and she rejects anything short
of a full right of return of all refugees to their pre-1948
As long as such attitudes prevail, is it any surprise that
there is no peace with Israel?
Supporters of the Palestinians should be urging journalists
and artists to move beyond historic grievances, challenge misconceptions
and stereotypes about Israel, and use their influence to promote
reconciliation with the Israeli people.