This Land Is Mine

I envisioned This Land Is Mine as the last scene of my potential-possible-maybe- feature film, Seder-Masochism, but it’s the first (and so far only) scene I’ve animated. As the Bible says, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

This Land Is Mine from Nina Paley on Vimeo.

Who’s Killing Who? A Viewer’s Guide

Because you can’t tell the players without a pogrom!

Early Man

 

Early Man
This generic “cave man” represents the first human settlers in Israel/Canaan/the Levant. Whoever they were.

Canaanite

 

 

Canaanite
What did ancient Canaanites look like? I don’t know, so this is based on ancient Sumerian art.

Ancient Egyptian

 

 

Egyptian
Canaan was located between two huge empires. Egypt controlled it sometimes, and…

Assyrian

 

 

Assyrian
….Assyria controlled it other times.

Israelite

 

 

Israelite
The “Children of Israel” conquered the shit out of the region, according to bloody and violent Old Testament accounts.

Babylonian

 

 

Babylonian
Then the Baylonians destroyed their temple and took the Hebrews into exile.

Macedonian/Alexander

 

 

 

Macedonian/Greek
Here comes Alexander the Great, conquering everything!

Greek

 

 

Greek/Macedonian
No sooner did Alexander conquer everything, than his generals divided it up and fought with each other.

Ptolmaic

 

 

Ptolemaic
Greek descendants of Ptolemy, another of Alexander’s competing generals, ruled Egypt dressed like Egyptian god-kings. (The famous Cleopatra of western mythology and Hollywood was a Ptolemy.)

Seleucid

 

 

Seleucid
More Greek-Macedonian legacies of Alexander.

 

Hebrew Priest

Hebrew Priest
This guy didn’t fight, he just ran the Second Temple re-established by Hebrews in Jerusalem after the Babylonian Exile.

Maccabee

Maccabee
Led by Judah “The Hammer” Maccabee, who fought the Seleucids, saved the Temple, and invented Channukah. Until…

 

Roman

 

Roman
….the Romans destroyed the Second Temple and absorbed the region into the Roman Empire…

Byzantine

 

 

Byzantine
….which split into Eastern and Western Empires. The eastern part was called the Byzantine Empire. I don’t know if “Romans” ever fought “Byzantines” (Eastern Romans) but this is a cartoon.

 

Caliph

 

 

Arab Caliph
Speaking of cartoon, what did an Arab Caliph look like? This was my best guess.

Crusader

 

 

Crusader
After Crusaders went a-killin’ in the name of Jesus Christ, they established Crusader states, most notably the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Egyptian Mamluk

 

 

Mamluk of Egypt
Wikipedia sez, “Over time, mamluks became a powerful military caste in various Muslim societies…In places such as Egypt from the Ayyubid dynasty to the time of Muhammad Ali of Egypt, mamluks were considered to be “true lords”, with social status above freeborn Muslims.[7]” And apparently they controlled Palestine for a while.

 

Ottoman Turk

 

Ottoman Turk
Did I mention this is a cartoon? Probably no one went to battle looking like this. But big turbans, rich clothing and jewelry seemed to be in vogue among Ottoman Turkish elites, according to paintings I found on the Internet.

Arab

 

 

Arab
A gross generalization of a generic 19-century “Arab”.

 

British

British
The British formed alliances with Arabs, then occupied Palestine. This cartoon is an oversimplification, and uses this British caricature as a stand-in for Europeans in general.

Palestinian

 

 

Palestinian
The British occupied this guy’s land, only to leave it to a vast influx of….

European Jew/Zionist

 

European Jew/Zionist
Desperate and traumatized survivors of European pogroms and death camps, Jewish Zionist settlers were ready to fight to the death for a place to call home, but…

Hezbollah

 

 

PLO/Hamas/Hezbollah
….so were the people that lived there. Various militarized resistance movements arose in response to Israel: The Palestinian Liberation Organization, Hamas, and Hezbollah.

State of Israel

 


 

Guerrilla/Freedom Fighter/TerroristState of Israel
Backed by “the West,” especially the US, they got lots of weapons and the only sanctioned nukes in the region.

 

Guerrilla/Freedom Fighter/Terrorist
Sometimes people fight in military uniforms, sometimes they don’t. Creeping up alongside are illicit nukes possibly from Iran or elsewhere in the region. Who’s Next?

Angel of Death

 

 

 

and finally…

The Angel of Death
The real hero of the Old Testament, and right now too.

 

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1,188 comments to This Land Is Mine

  • Excellent animation. Making history fun! :)

  • […] Nina Paley: I envisioned This Land Is Mine as the last scene of my potential-possible-maybe- feature film, Seder-Masochism, but it’s the first (and so far only) scene I’ve animated. As the Bible says, ”So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” […]

  • Zarjaz

    You just *know* that some member of one (well more than one) of the groups depicted here is going to take this as a personal attack on only their religion, completely missing the overall point of the film. (Neatly, but sadly demonstrating your exact point as I see it).

  • […] O HAI Want to know what’s been taking all my time away from Mimi & Eunice? THIS. […]

  • jerry glynn

    This could only have been created by a person who grew up in the peace-loving town of Urbana, Illinois.

    Go NINA !

  • monkyyy

    iran doesnt have nukes, and is comparably very peaceful as they havnt started a war in over 300 years

  • Someone else in the region is going to get nukes eventually. Iran looks most likely at the moment. I refer you to this: http://youtu.be/oRLON3ddZIw?t=50s

  • Randy

    Great show. Unfortunate history.

  • Wonderful, really, wonderful!

    I had a question about the music and its copyright, but I’ll pass.

  • Josh

    Oh, Nina! I’ve always appreciated your total lack of subtlety, and here you take it to new heights. Kind of like a really classy South Park. Keep up the awesome work! (I do miss my regular Mimi and Eunice fix, but if this is what we’ll eventually be getting instead I can be patient!)

  • Nuno Pinheiro

    WOW sad and amazing, this land is probably not mine. wonderfull video

  • Jonathan

    As a huge fan of Sita (watched it again last just week) … please, please, please make this feature film!

  • Nabhendu Kothari

    This is the reason I keep returning to this blog.
    I can’t believe I missed so much since last time!

  • Jym

    Awe-inspiring. No room for Woody Guthrie in this version, though.

  • You said this was from the movie Exodus which was made in 1960. This Land is Your Land is from 1940 and has a different take, but your piece is leading me to relook at it as well.

    Thank you for your creating and sharing.

    -brewster

  • Psst, Caliph is not the word you want here.

  • Bruce

    Wow. Tarantino only went “medieval” in Pulp Fiction.

    You go “Paley-olithic” here.

    I can’t wait for the rest of the film.

  • GoldenGnu

    Great work! Amazing and awesome! I loved it! Thank you! :)

  • Jerzy Kaltenberg

    Entertaining, if a trifle generalizing. Are you still debating the rest of Seder Masochism, or is it definitely going to happen ?

  • Jared

    Amusing and entertaining.

  • Gregori

    WOW!!

    Nina I have long admired your work primarily because I just really like your style of drawing (both static and animated!) – but with this you have taken a substantial leap in form and content. This is not to say your prior content was at all lacking (I always suspected you had a caustic wit behind your readily accessible style), just that this piece is tragically beautiful and absolutely deserving of a wide viewership.

    BRAVO!

  • Laroquod

    Great video generally (I do love me some cartoon gore) with a good message, but I too feel that it is marred by buying into the whole ‘Iran is building nukes to use against Israel so be afraid’ meme. Considering that this misleading refrain will likely be used as drumbeat leading USA toward unprovoked, preemptive war with Iran, this is a very unfortunate assocation to be making in an anti-war film, particularly at this time in history. I can’t feel comfortable spreading this link around.

  • There’s no such thing as a region where only one nation gets nukes, and it’s hunky-dory with everyone else. Reading this as ‘Iran is building nukes to use against Israel so be afraid’ is your choice, but it really misses the point. There are nukes in the region already (Israel’s).

    I just added “or elsewhere in the region” after “Iran,” in case that makes a difference. It’s going to be somewhere, and Iran really seems likely right now (as Egypt did 40+ years ago). To emphasize that point, I added a link to Tom Lehrer’s Who’s Next in the same entry.

  • Serai

    Oh, Nina, you rock. I’ve been a fan of yours since your comic strip days back in Santa Cruz, when I eagerly awaited your wonderful weekly wit. (I still have your full-page “Housemate Games” from the Sentinel, which I’ve put up in every house I’ve lived in. Also, “Maybe you need to explore your sexuality!” BWAHAHA.) So happy to see how you’ve grown and succeeded. Good fortune to you, sweetheart.

  • Guyk

    Thanks from Israel! :-)

  • Laroquod

    But Israel already has nuclear weapons and they are in the region. Why didn’t they get a bunch of missiles on their side? The conclusion of the film makes it seem as if the arabs are responsible for a huge escalation of stakes, when the truth is that the arabs are on the losing end of a huge escalation of stakes by Israel and the West. I understand that this is not what you are intending but I feel a lot of uninformed people will read it that way. Of course, you can’t be held accountable for how people read it, but I can’t ignore it, either.

  • Laroquod

    Sorry I shouldn’t have written ‘Arabs’ I meant the rest of the mostly Muslim-populated countries in the region besides Israel.

  • Lorenza

    Very good!

  • Kim W.

    “You said this was from the movie Exodus which was made in 1960. This Land is Your Land is from 1940 and has a different take, but your piece is leading me to relook at it as well.”

    You’re correct that “This Land Is Your Land” is from 1940 and has a different take from “This Land Is Mine” — because “This Land Is Your Land” is a completely different song from “This Land Is Mine.”

  • Baader Meinhoff

    If more people thought like you then when “they” started the next war no one would show up!

  • @Laroquod, read my response to you again. This comment indicates you didn’t: “But Israel already has nuclear weapons and they are in the region.” If you read my response, you would have read:

    There are nukes in the region already (Israel’s).

    Watch the movie again. There is nothing in the film that identifies the nukes with Iran. The “Terrorist/Freedom Fighter/Guerrilla” is not an Iranian. Please pay attention; you are reading into it things that are not there. If the viewer’s guide is what had you bothered, please read it again.

  • Nukes, nukes, nukes. I didn’t even identify those things as nukes until I read the “who’s killing who” guide, I assumed they represented the conventional rockets that get fired into Israel.

    Anyway! Love the film. Since you mention it, yes, the eastern and western halves of the Roman Empire did fight several times. Rome never could resist a good civil war. Sometimes this ended with the empire being briefly reunited under one ruler again (most famously Constantine).

    One little nitpick though! Between Babylon and the Macedonians, you forgot the Achaemenid Empire (Persia) – the one that invaded Greece and then got buzzsawed through by Alexander later. At their height they controlled a vast amount of territory, including the Levant.

  • sarah

    This is a little masterpiece. Love it!

  • Chaim

    I take issue with your characterization of recent history in these lines…”Palestinian The British occupied this guy’s land, only to leave it to a vast influx of….European Jew/Zionist Desperate and traumatized survivors of European pogroms and death camps, Jewish Zionist settlers were ready to fight to the death for a place to call home, but…so were the people that lived there”.

    Your facts are not right and a little out of order chronologically.

    Zionism pre-dated the death camps of the Holocaust by a bout 50 years so you’re only half right. They way you phrase it, you imply what many of Israel’s critics incorrectly think, that Israel ONLY exists as a response to the Holocaust.
    Furthermore, the first Zionist settlements in what was then called Palestine pre-dated Brittish rule. The first Zionists came to Palestine toward the end of the Ottoman Turk’s rule of the land and in fact made a deal with the Ottomans to build a Jewish homeland there, but that deal went away temporarily when the Ottoman empire fell and the Brittish took over.

    Second of all, the way you draw the ‘European Jew/Zionist” is not accurate. Chances are, if a Jew dressed like that back then, they would’ve been Anti- Zionist. The guy you drew looks like a Chasidic religious Jew and most of the early Zionists were Jewish by blood and heritage but were for the most part, non-religious. Many were even anti-religious. Most Kibbutzes were commune farms, inhabited by communists.

    Finally I take issue with the idea that the Zionists settled on “someone else’s” land. If you’re talking about the West Bank and Gaza, you have a case to make but before 1967, the vast majority of the land that the Jews settled on was uninhabited and up to that point uninhabitable. They had to dry up swamps by planting eucalyptus trees and irrigate crops in the desert with sea water in order to settle the land that now makes up most of Israel proper. You wouldn’t know that from looking at Israel today because there is a lot of lush greenery, and a lot of cities and towns around but those are all man-made. Planted and built by guess who: Zionists.

    P.S. I’m sure you’re tired of hearing Israel’s apologists say this but since the Jews’ first return from exile in Babylon (now Iraq) there’s NEVER been a time when there weren’t Jews living in Palestine. Yes there are many more now, but there were always at least a few communities there, in and around Jerusalem especially.

  • […] Levant.“ Und alles nur wegen ein paar Bullshit-Mythen. Auf ihrer Website gibt’s noch ein „Who’s Killing Who?“ von den Kanaaniten, Ptolemäern über die Römer und Ottomanen bis zu den Terroristen und […]

  • […] Mehr zum Clip und den Teilnehmern […]

  • […] of the land called Israel/Palestine/Canaan/the Levant. Who’s-killing-who viewer’s guide here. Created by Nina Paley Comments […]

  • Jcamilo

    Regardless of timelines and countries it all boils down to one thing, we haven’t learned a single thing in our entire history. The fact that you have people rebutting this piece is a testament to the above. Great work of art Nina!

  • […] video itself can be found here, complete with all its cartoon violence. I realize some people have very strong feelings regarding […]

  • […] Paley has written up a guide to this sequence’s many players: you’ve got the Canaanites, who kill Early Man; the Egpytians, who kill the Canaanites; the […]

  • Uri

    The state of Israel soldiers should have a M-16 rifle, not AK-47…

    And the European Jew/Zionist is more like a European caricature of the Jews in Europe.
    But beside that – very nice!

  • […] This Land is Mine is a animated musical short by artist Nina Paley that she describes as a “brief history of the land called Israel/Palestine/Canaan/the Levant.” A “who’s-killing-who viewer’s guide” is available at her website. You make a donation to the Question Copyright project (which “assist artists in creating and releasing works under free licences”) online. Paley is the project’s first artist-in-residence. I envisioned This Land Is Mine as the last scene of my potential-possible-maybe- feature film, Seder-Masochism, but it’s the first (and so far only) scene I’ve animated. As the Bible says, ”So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” […]

  • Eddy

    Loved it! Thumbs up!

  • […] new “potential-possible-maybe-feature film” project is Seder-Masochism, and she’s posted a clip called “This […]

  • Bruce

    Americans in general support Israel because their claim to land lies in ideology, albeit a tribal religious one, whereas our ideology was “Manifest Destiny” (i.e., us against them brown people).

  • Bloody brilliant and pathetically sad, concisely and comically capturing the millennial patriarchal violence that envelops the region like the kiss of God.

    This was my (not entertaining!) take on the issue 10 years ago:

    Israel, Palestine, & Justice
    http://www.commondreams.org/views02/0408-07.htm

  • Wonderful! The design is beautiful by the way. Seriously, why cant people just get along. I guess first people on all sides (of all sorts of conflicts) need to acknowledge everyone’s humanity and right to be treated as equals. Why does it always have to be a competition? Keep up the amazing work, Nina.

  • Chaim:

    “Zionism pre-dated the death camps of the Holocaust by a bout 50 years so you’re only half right. They way you phrase it, you imply what many of Israel’s critics incorrectly think, that Israel ONLY exists as a response to the Holocaust.”

    Israel exists substantially because of the Holocaust, though. Without Nazi persecution and genocide to a) create a very large pool of desperate prospective immigrants and b) create a sense in Western countries that Jews deserved and needed a sovereign homeland, would the Zionist project ever have been realized? It’s certainly open to question. Paley’s argument is defensible.

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