Fischer, Nina. “Facing the Arab ‘Other’?: Jerusalem in Jewish Women’s Comics.” Studies in Comics 6.2 (2015): 291-311.
Jerusalem is the frontline and a microcosm of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In recent years, comic artists have turned their attention to the Middle East, including the ‘Holy City’. Scholars, however, have yet to study how comics engage with life in Jerusalem, in particular the relationships between Arabs and Jews. In this article, I will take on this critical oversight and explore how Mira Friedman’s ‘Independence Day’ (2008), Sarah Glidden’s How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less (2010) and Miriam Libicki’s Jobnik!: An American Girl’s Adventures in the Israeli Army (2008) engage with the complicated social situation. The philosopher, Emmanuel Lévinas, has argued that face-to-face encounters are the basis for recognizing the Other as human and for feeling responsibility towards him or her.1 In this article I show that we rarely see the Other’s face in the corpus of the Jewish comic artists I discuss here. Instead, the Arab presence is brought into the texts by way of urban elements such as the Dome of the Rock, media remediations or indistinct, distant figures. This highlights that comics are closely tied into the current situation between Israelis and Palestinians, where fear and separation rule to a level where the Arab Other – whether Christian or Muslim – of the Jews of Jerusalem is almost invisible.