"Glidden, a progressive American Jew who is sharply critical of Israeli policies vis-á-vis the Occupied Territories, went on an all-expense-paid 'birthright' trip to Israel in an attempt to discover some grand truths at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This graphic memoir tells the touching and often funny story of her utter failure to do so."--Amazon.com.
Glidden goes into the trip with strong feelings about Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the need to trade land for peace. She expects to be inundated with pro-Israeli propaganda when she gets there, and is prepared with a lot of skepticism and wisecracks. The artwork is engaging and well done as she travels all over Israel. She does encounter some of the expected propaganda, but more often finds herself engaged in nuance conversations that show her the problems, and potential resolutions are much more complicated than she suspected. Her sympathy to the plight of the Palestinians helps make this a more even-handed book than it might have been, and her reluctant acknowledgment of the legitimacy of views not matching hers brings credibility and liveliness to the memoir. It's not black and white, and underlying every inch of territory and beliefs in Israel is a vast amount of influential history. At times she finds herself overwhelmed with emotion as her political understanding evolves along with her concept of her Jewish identity.
She does a good job of making it entertaining for the reader, with fanciful interludes as she gets bored or tries to sort out the issues. In one she is representing both sides in a trial, and also is the judge. “This court is now in session to hear the case of ‘Birthright is trying to brainwash me vs. Birthright is actually pretty reasonable,” Judge Glidden announces to the Glidden lawyers. She mocks some of her fellow travelers, and herself when she does something awkward. Swimming in the salty Dead Sea is far from romantic, and she notices only the tourists do it, while the locals stay on the beach. At one point a Muslim shopkeeper points out how much like New York his section of Jerusalem is, with its varied mix of people. Turns out he used to live in New York and is a Yankees fan. He jokingly threatens not to sell her some earrings when he finds out she’s a Red Sox booster. It gives a welcome and different perspective on the many enmities and suspicions that lie in the background and can suddenly come to the fore.
It is not all tied up neatly in a package by the end, but the reader does better, if not completely, understand Israel. It is fun to follow Sarah as she starts to really get exposed to the country and its people, which in some ways takes off during a Purim parade. She begins to get beyond her tunnel-visioned political concerns and experience the country's vibrancy and diversity, and at the same time she starts realizing how at home she feels when surrounded by people like her. Along the way she encounters Americans who have relocated to Israel for those reasons.
Anyway, she packs a lot into a comic book, and I can see why it has gotten so many accolades. I've recommended it to my birthright trip-taking wife. I hope that this memoir triggers even more memories of her own trip to this fascinating area that could be considered the heart of much of our planet.
The trip for her is part educational tour by
For me, the main part of the memoir is Glidden's emotional struggle. That is often where graphic books shine for me - facial expressions, etc. Additionally, the beauty of Israel is very well painted in watercolor. I am new to graphic books; this is about the 6th one I have read. Recommended for those interested in Israel/Palestine conflict, perhaps as a beginning.
Sarah is Jewish and lives in New York. From afar she reads and keeps up with the Palestine/Israel conflict. But in order to truly understand it and see if her own opinions/beliefs are right, she and a friend join a heritage tour group. They travel to Israel and here Sarah holds "trial" in her mind at various stops, weighing what she is hearing with what she believes to be the truth. But along the way she discovers something...about the people that surround her and even more about herself.
Sarah does an excellent job of being honest with herself and her opinions. And this is a must read for anyone, regardless of age, gender, or religion.
I'm glad I read this and I do recommend it. It dragged on a bit and Glidden's characters do not emerge from the page with as much richness as, say, those in Art Speigelman's Maus, but that's a high bar to set and I hope Glidden's work reaches an expanding audience.
If not for Alaina, this wouldn't have even touched my radar.. at all. For starters, I'm not religious in the slightest so that alone is enough to turn me off of this book. Also, I have no fundamental knowledge of what's going on in Israel. Well, I know that there
Don't confuse my lack of knowledge with a lack of interest, however, as I've always been interested in "what's going on over there". When the topic comes up in any conversation (which trust me is rare), I usually refrain from giving an opinion in an effort to mask my ignorance. While I'm not a fairly political guy - and I'll be the first to proclaim my apathy towards international issues - I'd like to have some sort of basic understanding. So when this book was recommended (and combined with the attractive title), I gave it a shot.
Now, I don't want to give anyone the impression that after I put this down I declared myself an authority on all Palestinian/Israeli matters. If anything, I doubt I'll ever fully understand it. I can say that Glidden at least gave me an idea of what all this fighting is over and that's a whole lot better than what I knew before hand.
Her story is an interesting one and while at times I found her overly dramatic, I can't say that I can tell her how she should act in this kind of environment. I really respect that while she admitted to having a huge bias upon starting her journey, she ended without beating over your head who is "right" and who is "wrong".
Why the 3 stars? I guess because when you break down the star system, 3 stars translates into "I liked it". So while I thought the artwork was beautifully done, I can't see this really having an impact on me in the long term.
A Birthright trip is an all-expenses paid trip to Israel for those who have a Jewish ancestor, and my understanding is that such trips are intended to make Americans of Jewish background more "friendly" to Israel.
This book, a graphic
By: Sarah Glidden
This non-fiction autobiographical graphic novel focuses on Sarah Glidden, a young Jewish woman living in the United States. She has strong opinions about the problems in the Middle East involving Palestine and Israel. When her