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.




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

Ancient Egyptian



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




….Assyria controlled it other times.




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




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





Here comes Alexander the Great, conquering everything!




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




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.)




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.


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




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




….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.





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




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.




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



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.




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…




….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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1,184 comments to This Land Is Mine

  • Derrik Abram

    Stunning and hilarious and right on. Thank you!

  • Over-generalization put everything in meta-language which reveals the final hero, Angel of Death. The same hero plays to the whole of human history as well, just covered by periods of blossoming. So important is to show the whole game in historically correct frame as here. If the history of science will be animated one day, even in small branch, it will be the same. Human race make two steps forward and one and half back every time, payig the same price again and again, which price legimized by castoms. The time to check the same way as people check their expencies for houshold etc.

  • […] and meta-creative work. The recent situation in Gaza makes Paley’s 2012 animated short film This Land Is Mine — “a brief history of the land called Israel / Palestine / Canaan / the Levant” — […]

  • Wonderful sweep of sad history and terrible tragedy in a tongue-in-cheek animation that should be compulsory education regarding human’s inhumanity to fellow humans, the madness of retribution, and toxicity of revenge. I would just like to add that between Adam and the arrival of the Canaanites on the scene there must have been just as much barbarity, killings and bloodshed between earlier communities of nomadic peoples. And they call it the land of God. I wonder if there ever was a land of the devil what it would be like, the series “Childhood’s End” comes to mind.

  • Paul Solomon

    Dear Nina Paley, thanks for the marvellous animation of the terrible history of the Middle East/the world. May I please use it in a psychotherapy forum on “Identity in the Middle East” at AUT University in Auckland Aotearoa New Zealand in September 2016? Best Regards to you, congratulations on your work. Paul Solomon

  • Lily

    I thought that was greek.

  • Wow, Israel really *is* the Holy Land.

  • […] dei personaggi è perfetta e c’è anche una guida su chi uccide chi. La colonna sonora è di Andy Williams ed è tratta dal film Exodus del 1960, che non parla […]

  • Peter Metlikovic

    Thanks, great visualization of all conflicts over there!
    If one showed 100 years old photos of children playing, the same conclusion could come out. They died. Maybe the “why” question at the end of this great animations could stay opened?

  • Lucas Lucena

    Nina Paley, hi. I’m here to ask about the version of Exodus Song that plays in the credits, I really liked and I was wondering if you could tell the author. I searched about sax versions of the music but none of the songs that I found were what I want.

    Anyway, that’s all. The video is just fantastic, I love your work.


  • Ali Quintanilha

    Lucas Lucena, the song it’s in the credits. It’s Exodus Song sung by Andy Williams.

    Watching this video and seeing a story that is not new, but that (as far as I know) was never portrayed in such a clever fashion, it makes me think that the Palestine (that geographical ever disputed territory that recently became the state of Israel) should become a global territory per excellence, meaning that the day humanity can settle that conflict for good will only come when we stop trying to conquer each other and start learning how to cooperate for a common cause, for the well being of all humans. When that happens the Palestine should be a land where everyone can live, not a land that God gave to this or to that side of the equation.

  • Ali Quintanilha

    Sorry Lucas Lucena, I only understood what you asked after I had answered it wrong.

    However, I found the answer using Sound Hound, it’s a very good app to discover music. It’s Exodus by Quincy Jones

  • Paul Smyth

    This is utterly brilliant, just one tiny tiny thing. You should’ve added the bit where the post war European settlers killed the British soldiers who took them there. I know it’s difficult to get everything in but it’s significant and almost forgotten.

  • Deborah Dozier

    Hi, Nina,
    I teach American Indian studies classes and I always use this wonderful masterpiece of exploration when I teach about genocide in the Americas. Students see the corrolarries without a problem – even understanding that some Native American tribes colonized others with
    “the help of God.”
    Deborah Dozier

  • Philip Kisloff

    Egyptians were from Egypt.
    Babylonians were from Mesoptamia
    Assorted Greeks were from Greece.
    Romans were from Rome
    Ottomans were from Turkey
    Europeans were from Europe.

    They all had empires, not claiming the land belonged to them. For them, it was just another conquest. It’s like the hen and the pig and the English breakfast. For the hen, there’s involvement. For the pig, it’s a committment.

  • Alexander wasn’t killed.

  • Deborah Dozier

    Dear Nina,
    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this video. It meets the requirements for a “3-I” rating – intelligent, iconic, and ironic!

    I teach American Indian studies classes at a community college in Southern California. One of the challenges is to explain the robustness of the story of colonization of this continent – each side with its own perspective and with voices in their heads that say, “Approved by God!”

    Your video does two things that are really important to me. 1) It blows my students minds wide open so that 2) they are able to to conceptualize colonization in a new and meaningful way. This video gives them the tools to understand what happened in the Americas starting with the empire built through Aztec colonization – right on up to today.

    And btw, please copy and share this as you choose! ; )
    In admiration,

  • […] This Land is Mine by Nina Paley is a graphically beautiful 3-1/2 minute video that could be ironically funny were it not based on violent historic events. Its only narration is a recording by the same name sung by Andy Williams and originally composed by Ernest Gold as the theme for the movie, Exodus, with the lyrics added later by Pat Boone. The animation lists Early Man, Canaanites, Egyptians, Assyrians, Israelis, Babylonians, Macedonian-Greeks, Ptolemaics, Seleucidians, Hebrew priests, Maccabees, Romans, Byzantines, Arabian caliphs, Crusaders, Egyptian Mamluks, Ottoman Turks, 19th century Arabs, British, Palestinians, European Zionist Jews, PLO-Hamas-Hebollah fighters, Israeli military, and Guerrilla-Freedom fighter-terrorists hacking and shooting their way to claim Palestine with a finale featuring The Angel of Death, who Paley calls “the real hero of the Old Testament, and right now too.” […]

  • Ur

    I think this is very good, but there’s something that’s inaccurate that bothers me – the depiction of the European Zionist Jews as Haredi (ultra-orthodox). It does wrong to both the Zionists and the Haredi’s:

    -Most Zionist of that time, and especially the ones participating in the armed struggle against the British and the Palestinians, were secular Jews, that resented the so-called “diasporic Jew” and had a vision of a “new Jew” which is a person of the land – a farmer, a worker etc. They definitely did not dress as Haredi’s.

    -Many (maybe Most) Haredi’s of that time opposed the armed struggle, as they believe that it is religiously forbidden for Jews to “rebel against the nations” and claim independence, until the Messiah arrives.

    So although this look is distinctly of European Jews, it is not the way the armed Zionists looked at the time. For a more accurate depiction you can look at photos of members of Haganah and Palmach (two of the major Zionist guerrilla organizations):

  • […] dei personaggi è perfetta e c’è anche una guida su chi uccide chi. La colonna sonora è di Andy Williams ed è tratta dal film Exodus del 1960, che non parla […]

  • Kerno

    I just love the way how real owner of this land emerges in the end. And how easily this cartoon can be generalized for the whole history of mankind.

  • […] aus dem Jahr 1998, an die ich relativ oft denken musst, weil das Oskar-prämierte Sample von „This Land is mine“ latürnich ein schlimmer Ohrwurm ist, der mir auch zur als Beruhigungsgesumme für kleine […]

  • […] персонажи безжалостно убивают друг друга. На сайте Палей размещена таблица «Кто кем убит?», с помощью […]

  • TV

    Superb work. To answer your question, western Romans did fight the Byzantines, but not in Israel :)

    You missed Sassanids, who took the land and were kicked out by the Byzantines thirty years later and ten years before the Arab invasion.

  • miles

    At last, I understand the history of the world! Presented in a format that even a millennial could grasp! The profound futility of war, the urgent need for compassion and understanding of all peoples of whatever faith and orientation!

    OK, back to cat videos.


    To the extent that it is accurate, this shows a very detailed chronology of the region’s power struggles & horrible brutality. Not anything to find comfort in the situation today, except the beautiful voice of Pat Boone, helping to preserve hope for a better world.

  • […] Confused about all those characters? Here’s a handy guide. […]

  • One important soldier – conqueror that was left out of the video were the PERSIANS !

  • Amanda

    The cavemen (Natufians, apparently) were not invaded and killed by the Canaanites, and the Israelites did not come from somewhere else and attacked the Canaanites! Natufians developed into Canaanites, and Israelites were a kind of Canaanite.

  • Alex

    Cool video and explanation. However, the religious-hatred overtones that you express were a little bit annoying (The real hero of the Old Testament).

  • Axel

    And where are the Russians, the Soviets? Where are the Germans? Where is World War I and World War II? Where is the Cold War?

  • Shapur I

    Suberb. However, the video mentions the sassanid and achaemenids. Here you didnt even mention persia once!

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