Never got around to writing about my time at Cairocomix (four weeks ago already!) and Zinefest Houston less than a couple weeks ago, both of which were amazing. Time has passed though and I'm already in a very different headspace. It's been wall-to-wall madness for many months now, but as the year comes to an end, so do the many disruptions that have colored the majority of 2023 for me. At least, I think so anyway.
Playing catch up on many fronts here at the studio, and boy do I hate playing catch up. Makes me approach the work with many anxious feels that are less than ideal.
Spent the most magical few days alone with my son. Exhausting, sure. That toddler energy is no joke, but it's been bonding in a special kind of way. Post-divorce fatherhood just may end up being my jam after all.
The new trade corridor revealed by Benjamin Netanyahu at the UN General Assembly three weeks ago would connect India to a port in Israel via maritime and rail links as well as energy pipelines and fiber optic cables that pass through the Arabian Peninsula.
Hence the recent treaty with the Emirates and talks of an impending treaty with Saudi Arabia. Goods of course would then move from Israel to Europe and the United States, theoretically cutting transport time while also eliminating dependance on what has arguably been the single most important global trade artery for the past 154 years: The Suez Canal. Egypt has for the longest time avoided privatizing the state-owned Suez Canal Authority despite express interest from the Gulf Arab states. Add to that, the defeat of the US-backed Saudi/UAE assault on Yemen, which—had they won—would've given them significant control over the Bab El-Mandab Strait, without which you couldn't enter into the Red Sea to make it to the Suez Canal to begin with. Instead, the victory was to go to Iranian-backed Houthi-rebels (Iran, ever the thorn in Saudi's geopolitical ambitions). Alas, a complete monopoly over the most important trade route in the world was not to be obtained by Saudi/UAE.
In comes Israel with a visionary new solution, one in which it would get to have a huge stake. The plan is applauded and encouraged by the United States, UK, and Europe's biggest players: France and Germany. Caveat though, there's that thorn again, embodied in another Iran-backed guerilla fighting group: Hamas. It was time for Israel to do away with them (despite Israel helping create Hamas in the first place in order to undermine Yasser Arafat's Fatah in 1987). In fact, it was time to do away with the Palestinians altogether, clear out Gaza and claim the entirety of the land once officially known as Palestine (which Netanyahu had the audacity to claim was in fact the map of Israel in 1948 during his latest UNGA speech), even though it looked more like this:
But to clear out Gaza? Over 2 million people? Something very dramatic would have to occur in order to galvanize the international community behind a move like that.
I present you with not one major story reporting as much, but two:
Additionally, the “Peace Festival” that took place three miles outside of what is practically the densest concentration camp on the planet was moved to that specific location only 48 hours before the event. And the Guardian reports that festival goers were only informed of the new location a handful of hours prior (some who had traveled across the world for it). Hamas leadership itself admitted to being surprised at how easy it was for their fighters to breach the Israeli constructed barriers, typically very heavily guarded and surveilled.
Moreover, this notion of resettling Palestinians in Sinai has been pushed by Israel for a long time, since Mubarak was in power. It's been a lifelong dream of Netanyahu and it's one I'm sure you'll see mainstream Western media incessantly pushing in the next few days, while placing most of the fault of Palestinian plight on Egypt's shoulders. “Why is Egypt being such a jerk? Why won't it let the Palestinians through?”
The answer is obvious to literally anyone in the region: Palestinians would henceforth lose their claim to their own land, just as had happened to many a Palestinian before them. The only lens by which such a preposterous resettlement plan makes sense is a blatantly racist one that views all Arab-speaking peoples as a single ethnicity. As if Palestinians have no history in or connection to the land they're being forced to leave. And it's really messed up when other nation states think they have the right to decide where to settle people without involving those people in the decision-making process.
Herein lies the biggest barrier to Netanyahu's grand plan: the desire of the Palestinian people. It is the same desire they've held onto since the Nakba of 1948: The right of return.
In fact, there are a number of contingencies upon which lie the success of Netanyahu's demented masterplan, and it is those contingencies that I suspect may have made Saudi Arabia a little reluctant to rush into signing any treaties with Israel just yet. Granted, they do seem to be moving in Netanyahu's favor thus far. The problem with it all though despite its grand outlook is that it still doesn't suspect a number of potential left-field outcomes.
a) Assuming Egypt Resettles Palestinians in Sinai Aside from it not being entirely in Egypt's interest to keep them there forever, just to guarantee its sovereignty over its own territories and to ensure it doesn't get its share of attacks from insurgency groups for maintaining its peace with the country that stole their land, Egypt would soon realize that it may not be in her interest to allow this new India-Arabia-Israel trade corridor to exist. At least not securely. After all, it would be cutting into Egypt's already dwindling sources of income. So Israel may find itself in a situation where it is faced with guerilla attacks by groups trained, armed, and funded by Egypt itself (while pretending to maintain a facade of peace). Supporting insurgency groups is something Egypt has quite a bit of history with; The Feda'yeen (literally translates to “sacrificial fighters” of the 1950's and 60's), the National Liberation Front in Algeria, and the Mujahideen of Afghanistan to battle the Soviet Union on behalf of the United States (some of those same mujahideen would end up being a big part of the formation of the Taliban a little over a decade later—Oops) to name some of the most well-known ones. And you better believe an Egyptian-backed group of guerilla fighters would pose a far more formidable threat to Israel than Hamas.
b) Popular Support Masses across the Arab-speaking world have already taken to the street in huge numbers demanding an end to Israeli atrocities, marking an unprecedented unity between people stretching from Morocco all the way to Iraq and beyond, even including other non-Arab speaking peoples such as Iranians and Turks. Netanyahu may have suspected as much, but he may be taking a serious gamble on the fact that the leaders of these nations are autocratic and certainly act against the wishes of their own populations all the time. But his gamble overlooks the fact that among some of those autocrats are populist egomaniac nut-bags who might see this as an opportunity to fill the pan-Arab leadership role left vacant since Nasser passed in 1970, a role that would certainly give them an everlasting legacy long after they're dead. It is not an understatement to say that if Nasser rose from his grave today, his welcome would be on par with the Christian world's second coming of Jesus Christ—a privilege that not even Sadat would enjoy, despite the latter being the one who won back the Sinai Peninsula from Israel and the former being the one who lost it. An irony not at all lost on any Arab leader. Principle and moral standing will always garner far more respect than pragmatism, at least where I come from. c) Proxy Clusterfuck This pressure exerted by US/UK/EU to resettle the Palestinian people—let alone their genocide—and participate in a complete alteration of regional geopolitics might even push Egypt to change its alliances, siding instead with Iran, Turkey, Russia and China, the latter having already increased investment in Egypt by 315% over the last 7 years and opting a stern position against Israel's latest aggression against Palestinians. Not to mention that this newly proposed India-Arabia-Israel corridor would somewhat undermine China's own New Silk Road, and disrupting the corridor would certainly be in the Asian giant's best interest. So, Israel may find itself trading Hamas for being caught in a big proxy war between the great powers of the East (China/Russia/Iran and quite possibly even Turkey) and those of the West (US/UK/EU).
Any way you look at it, none of what's been going on is actually about “the Jews” or Palestinians at all, who are the biggest victims in a big game of geopolitik centered around—not race, faith, or ethnicity as they'll have you believe—but in fact revolves entirely around money.
Or in other words: “It's the economy, stupid.”
Woke up with migraine, heart still in my stomach from all the News which clearly points to a genocide in the making, largely cheered on by major global powers and their news outlets.
Opened tab on my browser and Microsoft Edge front page—which aggregates news from across the web—is carouseling through the following headlines:
What fresh dystopia is this?
Between all the News and divorce stuff, I am finding it difficult to avoid depression. Days are a slog and progress on TSG pages are agonizingly slow. I did however manage to pump these out:
Was planning on writing my newsletter today, but could not find the time, energy, or peace of mind to do so.
Been a few days on this double-page spread from the next THE SOLAR GRID, and the end is still not very close in sight.
I like where it's headed, but I can probably spend the next couple of weeks fussing over the details that can go in the background. I think instead I'll cast it aside for now move on with the remainder of the chapter and come back to it when all other pages are at the very least roughed out. I tend to leave a lot of drawing for the inking stage anyway.
After having had a second bike stolen in Houston—from inside my building of residence no less—I have decided to acquire a foldable commuter bike for my transportation needs, something I can carry up the stairs with relative ease and tuck away in one of the corners of my abode.
It's an adequately minimalist thing; single speed and breaks by pedaling backwards. No wires, no fuss. Considerably lightweight at 26 lbs (11.8 kg) and surprisingly comfy to ride. This is the Judd folding bike from Retrospec. I'm thinking of maybe replacing the straight handlebar with Dutch-style one for added riding comfort, knowing that it would no longer fold as well with the handlebar attached. But I think I may be able to live with that.
Still raining profusely. This throws a dent in my morning walk routine which doubles as my daily grocery run, and thus I am without food this morning.
Will have to resort to having stuff delivered, something I've been successful at avoiding for a time now. It's okay to make exceptions every now and again though.
Rain is my kryptonite. In fact, all weather conditions aside from temperate blue skies are my kryptonite. What can I say; I'm a spoiled child of the Mediterranean.