Artists' Perspectives on the Middle East Conflict

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Artists' Perspectives on the Middle East Conflict

Palestine ...215
Poetry of Mahmoud Darwish ...229

United Nations Security Council resolutions, memoirs of prisoners and terrorists, declarations of war, statements of political vision, reports from British Royal commissions—these are the documents that historians and students typically use to understand the complicated issues relating to the long-standing and ongoing Middle East conflict. In most cases, these documents are attempts to establish the truth, to state a political program, to promote change, or to account for past actions. They tell a large part of the story ... but not the whole story.

Artists have also sought to interpret the political problems that exist in the Middle East. Through their sculptures and paintings, poems and novels, and even graphic novels, they offer different perspectives on the major events in the region. Artists bring a unique approach to understanding the world: they emphasize the use of the senses, such as sight, sound, and touch; they examine the emotional elements of issues; and urge people to open themselves to the difficulty and complexity of human problems. In the documents in this section, two distinct ways of understanding and representing the nature of conflict in the Middle East are explored.

The excerpts from Joe Sacco's graphic novel Palestine and selections from the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish both focus on the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis over who should claim sovereignty, or political control, over the territory that was once known as Palestine and is today known as Israel and the Occupied Territories (Israeli-occupied territories in the West Bank and Gaza Strip). Like most works of art, however, these selections present the viewpoints of Sacco and Darwish, and do not represent a balanced perspective.

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Artists' Perspectives on the Middle East Conflict

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