Wednesday, October 22, 2008


One image appears again and again on walls and buildings. A small boy, barefoot and in ragged clothes, stands with his back to the viewer, his hands clasped behind his back.

Drawn by the artist Naji al-Ali, the figure represents a Palestinian refugee child aged ten (the age al-Ali was when his family fled to Lebannon).

Named Handala, the boy became al-Ali’s signature and over time an adopted symbol for Palestinian refugees.

Handala stands excluded from his homeland, a tough kid, age frozen from the time he left his village until the day he might one day return. He turns his back on the Arab states who he perceives have failed to help him in his hour of need and his hands are clasped refusing to accept the external “American Way” solutions thrust at him.

Small, but never turning, Handala will stand resolutely thus, until he one day returns home.

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