Illustrating Israel

On our drive back to London, we spent an all-too-short night at a friend of a friend’s apartment in Paris. Located in the Marais, two blocks away from the Pompidou, we had more than our fair share of things to see, including a bakery window display featuring a loaf of bread fashioned into a pair of testicles.

The day after a big anti-occupation demonstration, what most caught my eye were all the leftover stickers and flyers decrying Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. So surprised were we by this re-purposed Carlos Latuff poster above, I jumped out of our van while it was still moving and took a few pictures.

If you’re not familiar with Latuff’s cartoons, and you follow the treatment of the Arab-Israeli conflict by contemporary visual artists, you ought to be. At times reminiscent of Black Flag-era Raymond Pettibon (think My War), the Brazilian artist is as synonymous with this subject matter as Banksy.

I personally don’t like Latuff’s work as much. At times I find it a little too didactic and lacking in nuance. Its not as though there isn’t a place for that, but it doesn’t always work for me, irrespective of my political differences with Latuff. Nonetheless, when Latuff transcends cliché, the results can be substantial.

Even for jaded progressives like my traveling companions, (one of whom has illustrated a significant amount of politically-charged record covers), this depiction of an Israeli Apache gunship firing an air-to-ground missile at a child still succeeded in making their hearts skip a beat – or two. As it was designed to do.