Watch: Animated short by Nina Paley satirizes divine claims to Palestine

A brief history of the land called Israel/Palestine/Canaan/the Levant. Who’s-killing-who viewer’s guide here:

Cartoonist and free culture activist Nina Paley has released a new animated short satirizing and abbreviating the history of divine claims to Palestine. “I envisioned This Land Is Mine as the last scene of my potential-possible-maybe-feature film, Seder-Masochism, but it’s the first (and so far only) scene I’ve animated,” she wrote on her blog.

The song used in the animation is “The Exodus Song (This Land Is Mine)” by Ernest Gold and Pat Boone and performed by Andy Williams.




could you please give me the video in youtube version so I can reblog it


I don't recall any Arab resistance in 1948. Expulsion of Jews from Arab countries in 1967 was a result of Israeli invasion on Golan, Sinai and South Lebanon. And the most important thing that Palestine was a multi-ethnic and religious country. All Arab countries were until 1967.


It’s not completely fair to read this animation for its representation of historical facts alone. The medium of cartoon encourages us to read emotion, humor and style over strict history. If you check out Paley’s blog post (linked above), you will see that she also points out many of the liberties she took with the cartoon.

About the second character in the cartoon, the “Canaanite,” she writes:

What did ancient Canaanites look like? I don’t know, so this is based on ancient Sumerian art.

Did people really achieve military victory with giant hammers? Probably not.

Led by Judah “The Hammer” Maccabee, who fought the Seleucids, saved the Temple, and invented Channukah. Until …. the Romans destroyed the Second Temple and absorbed the region into the Roman Empire … which split into Eastern and Western Empires. The eastern part was called the Byzantine Empire. I don’t know if “Romans” ever fought “Byzantines” (Eastern Romans) but this is a cartoon.

It’s a caricature. The Arabs look like cartoons. The Jews look like cartoons. This is cartoon history, and its purpose is to express the artist’s vision about the topic she chose to speak about.

Of course the purpose of the cartoon is to portray history in a particular way, but it should still be honest. Paley has a blog, and if you think there’s some important things she got very wrong, you might suggest something to add to her reading list. She seems very approachable on social media.


"I don't recall any Arab resistance in 1948."

Come again? It's one thing to say that many Nakba victims were simple people with the "simple" patriotism of loving one's home and village and with little "big" patriotism of "national" spirit, but to say there was no resistance is false revisionism. Of course there was. Rightly so, if not wisely as it turned out.

And what, pray, do the actions of Israel have to do with the rights of Jews in Arab countries who 19 years after its founding had evidently chose NOT to tie their fate with it???

I find your comment objectionable.


I appreciate the almost-tautologically-agreeable image of death at the end. Who doesn't agree that death is bad, fighting is bad, we should live in peace...?

But this is not the medium to make light of such things as are happening today in palestine/the colonial created state of "israel". This animation feeds quite nicely into the official propaganda line that the palestinians are no better than their oppressors, that they have been bloodthirsty conquerors only recently if you merely glance at history, that they have only lived there for a couple generations - while this is totally out of proportion. It is the occupiers who have lived there only a couple generations, and the present genocide (yes, systematic extermination of a people is called "genocide"!) is grossly out of proportion with any previous conflict in the region.


Nina Paley responded to this post on Twitter: [entity|type=file|id=23205|view_mode=full] I think any artist who wants to use her work to comment on politics or history is taking a lot of risks. If you read her blog post (linked above in my post), you can see that she helpfully identifies the historical period, movement, event or trend represented by each of the characters.

The timeline is not proportional. A handful of characters represent one or two hundred years, while in another case they represent almost a thousand.

She identifies Zionists (as portrayed) this way:

European Jew/Zionist: Desperate and traumatized survivors of European pogroms and death camps, Jewish Zionist settlers were ready to fight to the death for a place to call home, but…

I don’t share this video on my blog to validate the views of the artist (which I have to say I do not know) but rather to expose an good piece of work by someone who hasn’t (to my knowledge) intervened on this topic before to this audience here on The Electronic Intifada which I know to be very critical.

The question I’d like to ask is this: are you curious about what else she might produce on this topic? Do you object to it so strongly that you reject it? Or do you disagree and want to engage it?


I finally watched the vid and was entertained but left with a bad taste in my mouth. I am afraid that it doesn't offer much of a challenge to the current neo-liberal world-view. Regardless of the artists intentions, my sense is that the majority of readers/viewers will come away with two basic impressions:

1. This conflict in Palestine is as old as the ages and all ethnic/national agendas, past and present, are futile and equivalent in their desire to control this land.

2. The present controlling ethnic/national entity, Israel, needs to appreciate the futility of this historical danse macabre, look deep into their hearts, and understand that they must carve out a permanent bantustan for the Palestinians out of their precious homeland.


I concur, this depiction perpetuates the deliberate lie that uncolonized people are always fighting. Why put Zionist lyrics in everyone's mouths? "God gave this land to me" doesn't apply uniformly, certainly not to the polytheists.

Paley's inclusion in the last scene of, as she describes on her site, "illicit nukes possibly from Iran" shows whose text she's using for reference. Making light even art does not excuse slander.