A ragged, barefoot boy, hands clutched behind his back, stands witness to the scene before him. The small boy in the cartoon is Naji al-‘Ali, popular cartoonist, at age 10, when he was expelled from his native Palestine to Lebanon in 1948. Naji used to say that the boy was a symbol of the Palestinian people and, more personally, of his aborted youth. “They tell little children to turn their backs, but I don’t turn. The boy is the age I was when I left Palestine, and he will not grow up until I return.”
Mary Anne Stevens, ed., The Orientalists: Delacroix to Matisse — The Allure of North Africa and the Near East (Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, in association with Weidenfield and Nicolson, London, 1984).
An interesting instance of the politics of culture is the “Heritage of Islam” exhibit currently on display at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington. The exhibit, which toured a number of US cities over the past year, is a project of the National Committee to Honor the Fourteenth Centennial of Islam. We had been looking forward to its arrival, and our interest was further stimulated by an article in the June 1983 issue of Smithsonian discussing some controversies that had arisen.