Michal Boncza reviews a searing new book of comics by Eli Valley
Diaspora Boy: Comics on Crisis in America and Israel by Eli Valley (O/R Books, £20)
IN DIASPORA Boy, Eli Valley pulls no punches.
He grew up in the midst of relentless Israeli propaganda that employs patent nonsense and schizophrenic self-delusion to bully US Jewry into an unquestioning and compliant support for the odious cause of Israel’s expansionism.
It is telling, he says, that the “majority of the US Jewish community associates Judaism with social justice” a concept that is “an anathema to contemporary Israeli society.”
There is intellectual rigour behind Valley’s anarchic cartooning, which exposes and mercilessly ridicules the outlandish hypocrisies at play in the US-Israel relationship.
Not only do Jewish leaders in the US stay silent on the brutality of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land, they chastise those in the US who condemn the zionist state’s behaviour. But Valley’s work has helped re-energise a US generation exasperated by Establishment complicity in an Israeli occupation for more than half a century by simply ridiculing the morally corrupt, self-defeating doublespeak at its core.
His comic strips — “fever dreams” — deploy noir, horror, slapstick and science fiction to expose the outlandish hypocrisies at play in the American-Israeli relationship. They’re populated by turtles, xenophobic Jedi knights, sputtering superheroes, mutating golems and zombie billionaires. Sometimes they’ve been banned.
With meticulously detailed line work and a richly satirical palette, Valley’s comics unmask the hypocrisy and horror behind the headlines and the satires are supplemented with historical background and contexts, insights into the creative process and reactions to the works.
One negative reaction described them as “bigoted and unfunny,” a knee-jerk response that echoes Stuart, the Jewish turtle inhabiting Valley’s universe, who has a simple and dismissive answer at the conclusion of every strip: “Goddamn anti-semite.”
That in-yer-face, frame-busting graphic style complements the speech-balloon narratives which, though wordy, are brutally frank and irreverent but, most importantly, very funny.