Politics of honour - Naji al-Ali

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Your enthusiastic endorsement of A Child in Palestine: The cartoons of Naji al-Ali (Reviews, Socialist Review, July/August) was spot on. During the second intifada in 2000, I had the privilege of working with Naji al-Ali' s son, Khaled, in the solidarity movement.

His organisational tool kit was simple: his mobile phone. After an hour's worth of hurried conversations from the corner of a cafe, several hundred flag waving demonstrators would be cursing Israel outside its embassy.

Khaled's politics were and remain the politics of honour: to be true to the pledge of his father and his father's famous iconic cartoon character, Hanthala, the refugee boy who cannot grow up. In a macabre way Hanthala was also a witness at the assassination of Naji al-Ali in London in 1987.

A chilling cartoon has an Arab ruler telling Hanthala, with an apple perched on his head, to trust his archery skills. The ruler misses and the arrow strikes Hanthala. Is this deliberate or incompetence? The ruler seems to enjoy the apple afterwards. Either way, Naji al-Ali's fury with the Arab establishment's complicity with Zionism was integral to his art. The cartoon was drawn just a few months before the assassination.

But Hanthala lives on. Alongside Che Guevara and the Palestinian revolutionary leader George Habash, he is on the T-shirts of the young Palestinian movement emerging in the Galilee area.

John Rose
London