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Will Palestine’s 10-Year-Old Refugee Ever Grow Up?

posted on: Feb 17, 2017

BY: Yara Jouzy/Contributing Writer

A Palestinian identity isn’t complete without the political cartoon of a refugee child, Handala. In 1975, the famous Naji Al-Ali created this 10-year-old boy, who will remain at this age until the occupation of Palestine ends. He is an exceptional child, where the laws of nature and age are forbidden. Handala will begin to grow and live a normal life only when Palestine is returned to its original and rightful inhabitants.

This powerful cartoon is a symbol of the Palestinian struggle and serves as an icon for the right of return, which has been guaranteed by many UN resolutions. As Palestine Awareness Week comes to an end, Handala’s symbolism remains more important than ever for those who are fighting to change hearts and minds about Palestinians and their rights.

Handala was carefully drawn to depict the life of a destitute refugee. His messy hair, which Ali compares to a hedgehog’s thorns, are used as his weapon of protection. Handala also wears ragged clothes and no shoes to portray the poor, rough, and unfortunate life he is living. His aesthetic is a reflection of the conditions of the Palestinians living in exile in destitute refugee camps.

Handala is seen all over the streets of Palestine. His image is drawn extensively on the Israeli separation and apartheid Wall, as well as the refugee camps.

Although Handala is Palestinian, he is known globally throughout the arts community. He can be seen in street art, paintings, fashion, merchandise and many other forms of attire and artistic expression. This cartoon is one of the most powerful symbols a Palestinian can hold.

With Handala’s arms crossed behind his back, he rejects the solutions presented to him noted as the “American Way.” The only way he will turn around and face his people and his country is if it is returned. Handala is still 10 years old, but he is ready to grow up.

For this year’s Palestine Awareness Week, spread the history and image of Handala – the Palestinian boy waiting to return home.