FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Ben Heine, Master of the Art of Resistance

Brussels, Belgium artist-activist Ben Heine makes powerful criticism through cartoons and illustrations. His work protesting imperialism and other human rights violations has an international following. The prolific and timely drawings range from dark and tough to sweet and tender. Artists in at least a half dozen countries have now dra wn cartoons of him.

Heine’s work, particularly that relating to the crisis in Gaza, came under the notice of thousands of U.S. bloggers last year after his diaries, along with a handful of others, were banned from Daily Kos for their pro-Palestinian slant. In a reaction that’s become familiar, site members equated sympathy for Palestinians with being anti-Israel, or even anti-Jew, and Heine and others were given the boot.

On the bright side, the flap gave him a wider U.S. audience and solidified the radical artist’s resolve. He is part of a fascinating brotherhood and sisterhood of journalists and artists that are networking all over the globe and fighting wars and imperialsm their way.

Interviewed recently by phone, Heine talked about why he chose to get involved in the Palestinian struggle and who inspires him.

Are you a full-time artist?

Yeah, I try. I do that as a free lancer. I do work for some Belgian publications, the Le Monde Diplomatique, and some other magazines.

One of the great things with the Internet is that it allows you to be published everywhere around the world.

A lot of your illustrations depict what is going on in Gaza. What led you to get involved in the Israel–Palestine issue?

Illustrations are a great way for activists to communicate information and help complete the purpose of an article. It’s the way I choose to make people think and maybe change their behavior. Sometimes it works.

I focus especially on Palestine and Israel because I think it’s one of the most important issues nowadays. I mean, several people die every week there, mostly Palestinians. I was really shocked by this a long time ago and decided to do something with my art.

Each time Israel attacks Palestine, I try to bring out a new drawing. I try to be fair and to bring the truth to people’s eyes and also respect the ideas of writers who also want to convey the facts and the reality. The reality is that people are being oppressed by another people. Yes, I think that’s one of the reasons I draw for Palestine.

Your drawings evoke emotions from sadness to outrage. Do you think that’s what it takes to wake people up to the reality of the violence in the Middle East?

I think there is something in a drawing that’s very different from a photo. There’s a need with drawings to use symbols and other stuff like that to make people think in a different way. With a photo it would be easy just to show dead people which would shock people even more. With a drawing you can use symbols which is a very, very useful way of making people aware of a situation, and you can also make comparisons. I’m not sure if it’s important to shock people. It’s more important to make them think. And a drawing doesn’t need to be realistic – – it needs to be symbolic, coh erent, logical and respect reality.

Can an illustration can be more effective than a photograph in some instances?

I absolutely agree with that. It’s possible with illustrations to use symbols and also to add some personal opinion, which is not possible in photos. A photo is a transcription of one’s opinion, but it’s cold, it’s without a frame, in a way. I think both photos and cartoons can be interpreted in the wrong way. They always need a word by the artist or a word by the author of an article which would explain the piece.

You have a unique style. Is there anyone that influenced you?

I’m not especially influenced by other illustrators but I’m inspired by other kinds of artists, singers, writers, novelists, photographers, anyone expressing what they think and denouncing things that are happening in the wrong way, according to them or the majority or minority of people somewhere. There is a British artist, Banksy, who has been a big inspiration in recent years and the [self-exiled Israeli] musician Gilad Atzmon.

Isn’t there an illustration of Atzmon on your web site? You have a large gallery of illustrations and caricatures you’ve done of activists from around the world.

Yeah, I did Atzmon. I didn’t do an illustration of Banksy because one of the popular mysteries of Banksy is that nobody knows his face. That’s funny.

There is also an amazing blogger and a good friend, Steve Amsel, who is writing every day about Palestine and Israel. Another who writes about this issue is Mary Rizzo. She has a blog called peacepalestine. I met her a few weeks ago in Brussels. She was here to attend the International Citizen’s Tribunal on Lebanon, February 22-24. It was to be a trial over what happened in the Lebanon War, but there was no Israeli representative. It was really sad. There were only Lebanese people from the Midd le East, but no Israeli representative. Because of that no one would accept what was said at the trial. [The tribunal found the Israeli state guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide for its 2006 war in Lebanon.]

Yes, well thanks for the time and for taking my call at this late hour (10:30 p.m. in Brussels).

No, it’s really not that late. It’s really a pleasure to have the opportunity to talk with you. Excuse me for my French accent. It’s terrible.

No, it’s beautiful. It’s great.

Okay. Have a good evening, and see you soon on the Web.

KATHLYN STONE is an independent journalist and publishes Flesh and Stone.net, a health and science news site.

Ben Heine web sites:

www.benjaminheine.blogspot.com

www.benheine.com

http://benheine.deviantart.com

 

 

 

 

More articles by:
April 19, 2018
Ramzy Baroud
Media Cover-up: Shielding Israel is a Matter of Policy
Vijay Prashad
Undermining Brazilian Democracy: the Curious Saga of Lula
Steve Fraser
Class Dismissed: Class Conflict in Red State America
John W. Whitehead
Crimes of a Monster: Your Tax Dollars at Work
Kenn Orphan
Whistling Past the Graveyard
Karl Grossman - TJ Coles
Opening Pandora’s Box: Karl Grossman on Trump and the Weaponization of Space
Colin Todhunter
Behind Theresa May’s ‘Humanitarian Hysterics’: The Ideology of Empire and Conquest
Jesse Jackson
Syrian Strikes is One More step Toward a Lawless Presidency
Michael Welton
Confronting Militarism is Early Twentieth Century Canada: the Woman’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Alycee Lane
On David S. Buckel and Setting Ourselves on Fire
Jennifer Matsui
Our Overlords Reveal Their Top ‘To Do’s: Are YOU Next On Their Kill List?
George Ochenski
Jive Talkin’: On the Campaign Trail With Montana Republicans
Kary Love
Is It Time for A Nice, “Little” Nuclear War?
April 18, 2018
Alan Nasser
Could Student Loans Lead to Debt Prison? The Handwriting on the Wall
Susan Roberts
Uses for the Poor
Alvaro Huerta
I Am Not Your “Wetback”
Jonah Raskin
Napa County, California: the Clash of Oligarchy & Democracy
Robert Hunziker
America’s Dystopian Future
Geoffrey McDonald
“America First!” as Economic War
Jonathan Cook
Robert Fisk’s Douma Report Rips Away Excuses for Air Strike on Syria
Jeff Berg
WW III This Ain’t
Binoy Kampmark
Macron’s Syria Game
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia’s Top Cop Defends Indefensible Prejudice in Starbucks Arrest Incident
Katie Fite
Chaos in Urban Canyons – Air Force Efforts to Carve a Civilian Population War Game Range across Southern Idaho
Robby Sherwin
Facebook: This Is Where I Leave You
April 17, 2018
Paul Street
Eight Takeaways on Boss Tweet’s Latest Syrian Missile Spasm
Robert Fisk
The Search for the Truth in Douma
Eric Mann
The Historic 1968 Struggle Against Columbia University
Roy Eidelson
The 1%’s Mind Games: Psychology Gone Bad
John Steppling
The Sleep of Civilization
Patrick Cockburn
Syria Bombing Reveals Weakness of Theresa May
Dave Lindorff
No Indication in the US That the Country is at War Again
W. T. Whitney
Colombia and Cuba:  a Tale of Two Countries
Dean Baker
Why Isn’t the Median Wage for Black Workers Rising?
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia’s Top Cop Defends Indefensible Prejudice in Starbucks Arrest Incident
C. L. Cook
Man in the Glass
Kary Love
“The Mob Boss Orders a Hit and a Pardon”
Lawrence Wittner
Which Nations Are the Happiest―and Why
Dr. Hakim
Where on Earth is the Just Economy that Works for All, Including Afghan Children?
April 16, 2018
Dave Lindorff
President Trump’s War Crime is Worse than the One He Accuses Assad of
Ron Jacobs
War is Just F**kin’ Wrong
John Laforge
Nuclear Keeps on Polluting, Long After Shutdown
Norman Solomon
Missile Attack on Syria Is a Salute to “Russiagate” Enthusiasts, Whether They Like It or Not
Uri Avnery
Eyeless in Gaza   
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Then, Syria Now
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail