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.
Ayana Friedman is an Israeli multi-media artist who deals with politics, the Holocaust and society’s treatment of the Other. This article concentrates on her feminist works and how Judaism and being the child of a Holocaust survivor affected her approach to this subject. Three main feminist interests are highlighted. First, the turn to “feminine” materials. Second, the struggle against the restrictions and abuse imposed on women and their specific Jewish examples. Friedman demands equality for women in Judaism, opposing customs that demean them and creating new ritual objects for them. Third, the conflicts women have between a career and motherhood, and the inter-generational problems they involve.
The article explores the subject of contemporary Jewish identity through the case of young immigrant women artists from the former Soviet Union in Israel, with particular emphasis on an analysis of the gendered aspects of their religious identity. Drawing on an interdisciplinary method, the research is based on in-depth interviews with artists, artwork analysis, and various theories from the social sciences and humanities. The article’s main argument is that an analysis of the artistic practices of this and similar understudied social groups, particularly those practices undertaken in moments of conflict or times of deep social change, produces a more subtle understanding of the shifting modes of Jewish identity in the age of globalization and transnationalism, whose phenomenon of mass migration has led to the construction of new multi-hyphenated, hybrid identities.
This article analyzes the strategies used by Israeli women to make illegal street art. The findings demonstrate that female street artists do not only trespass the taken‑for‑granted capitalist concept of who controls the public space, but also the normative boundaries of what activities are permitted or forbidden for women in this domain. In comparison to women artists that work in other societies, the transgressive actions of Israeli street artists involve both strategies historically defined as feminine, as well as critical strategies of the malestream order.
In this essay, I analyze the function of color photography in autobiographical comics through a comparative analysis of confessional works of comics by two Jewish women artists, Jewish-American cartoonist Dianne Noomin’s 2003 comics spread “I Was a Red Diaper Baby” and Israeli cartoonist Ilana Zeffren’s Pink Story (written in Hebrew). While exploring the tensions evoked in these works between comics and photography and between black-and-white and color representations, I highlight an important difference in the nature of the images used in each work, evoking yet another tension: that between private and public. I demonstrate that these works by Noomin and Zeffren represent the array of private and public photographs available to any autobiographer, ranging from public images taken from posters, magazines, and video screenshots to intimate family snapshots. I argue that the choice between personal and public photographs in these works poetically determines the path of self-outing in each work, thus representing the two key options for such an act of self-outing, namely, using the personal sphere as a path to the public one or vice-versa. Finally, I address the role of Jewish identity in these two self-outing comics. I posit that while Jewish heritage is not a major factor in either work, the fact that in both cases the community of reference is a minority group within a Jewish community plays a significant role, introducing specific dilemmas into the already complicated identity struggle. By shedding light on the unique function of color photography in autobiographical comics about ethnographically charged self- outing experiences, the analysis of these specific works introduces to a wider audience two important yet insufficiently explored voices of women cartoonists.