Passover Satyr

PassoverSatyr_white

When I told a (gentile) friend I was making a movie about the Seder, she thought I said “satyr.” The idea cracked me up, but I didn’t illustrate it because who needs more associations of Jews with horns and cloven hooves? Until now. Here is the Passover Satyr.

I was worried this was in questionable taste. Too soon? But after posting this illustration on Facebook, so many people asked for a T-shirt that I set one up for pre-orders here.

teespring1You have until November 3 to order one.

 

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Death of the Firstborn Egyptians


The most recently-completed scene from my feature-in-progress Seder-Masochism.

written, directed, designed, animated, produced, etc. by Nina Paley
music from “Spider Suite” by The Duke of Uke and His Novelty Orchestra
sound effects by Greg Sextro

DONATE HERE: questioncopyright.org/sedermasochism

Based on Exodus 12:
21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover.
22 And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning.
23 For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.
24 And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever.
25 And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the Lord will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service.
26 And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service?
27 That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped.
28 And the children of Israel went away, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.
29 And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle.
30 And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.

*****

LYRICS by David King, aka Duke of Uke:

DEATH: Falling stars you wished upon
are cinders now and now they’re gone
their residue festoons my fetid field.
Unfeeling husks of lovers past
the shells are all that ever last
I’ve taken everything that they concealed.
Whoever told you life was fair?
Look around you, everywhere
the cruelty of nature is displayed!
Why the scorn?
Why the surprise?
Everything that’s born must die
and it isn’t I who made the world that way.

What wicked little twist of fate
placed you her upon my plate
Here, where no one hears your cries?
Where was your god to steer you through
Perhaps your god’s forsaken you
Otherwise why lead you here to die?

BA (spirit of the dead): I, I know the way how
I’ll melt away now
I know the way.
I’m feeling bliss now
Dissolved to mist how
strangely I go
away
Now I finally know

DEATH: It’s merely moments now,
moments now until
your feeble flesh bends to my will
and it will
so rest your weary head.
There’ll be no pain,
no pain at all
as everything you are dissolves
Your fate resolved
upon my silky thread.

BA: I, I know the way how
I’ll melt away now
I know the way.
I’m feeling bliss now
Dissolved to mist how
strangely I go
away
Now I finally know
(repeat)

This Land Is Mine is yours

Due to horrific recent events, This Land Is Mine has gone viral again.

Here’s a reminder that you don’t need permission to copy, share, broadcast, post, embed, subtitle, etc. Copying is an act of love, please copy and share. Yes means yes.

copying is an act of love, please copy and shareAs for the music, it is Fair UseThis Land Is Mine is a PARODY of “The Exodus Song.” That music was sort of the soundtrack of American zionism in the 1960’s and 70’s. It was supposed to express Jewish entitlement to Israel. By putting the song in the mouth of every warring party, I’m critiquing the original song.

 

Then came the Holy One, Blessed be He…

God5

…and smote the Angel of Death that slew the Slaughterer that killed the Ox that drank the Water that extinguished the Fire that burnt the Stick that beat the Dog that bit the Cat that ate the Goat that my father bought for two zuzim. Chad Gadya

The Angel of Death came…

AngelODeath8

 

…and slew the Slaughterer that killed the Ox that drank the Water that extinguished the Fire that burnt the Stick that beat the Dog that bit the Cat that ate the Goat that my father bought for two zuzim. Chad Gadya

The Slaughterer came…

 

shochet4

…and killed the Ox that drank the Water that extinguished the Fire that burnt the Stick that beat the Dog that bit the Cat that ate the Goat that my father bought for two zuzim. Chad Gadya

 

Update: animation modified to show Shochet slicing from below. He’s still decapitating the poor beast, but it’s slightly more kosher for sticklers. Yes I know kosher slaughter involves slitting the animal’s throat, it just seems so grotesque that the cartoon shorthand of bloody decapitation expresses it best for me. But for those who consider slitting from below important, here ya go.

The Water came…

water+fire

 

…and extinguished the Fire, that burnt the Stick, that hit the Dog, that bit the Cat, that ate the Goat which my father bought for two zuzim. Chad Gadya

The Fire came

flame+stick…and burned the Stick that beat the Dog that bit the Cat that ate the Goat which my father bought for two zuzim. Chad Gadya

 

…and bit the Cat…

dog12+cat

…that ate the Goat that my father bought for two zuzim. Chad Gadya

New Merch! “This Land Is Mine” Silk Pocket Square

pure silk This Land Is Mine 13" pocket square

A fine haberdasher asked me to design this fine 100% silk 13″ x 13″ pocket square with designs from This Land Is Mine. They are very fancy! $45-a-piece fancy, which is what fine haberdasherous silk pocket squares go for. Buy yours here.

This Land Is Mine pocket square shown to scale

Product Description

“This Land Is Mine” pocket square: millennia of violent territorial disputes distilled into a charming, non-violent, 100% silk 13″x13″ pocket square. Square made in France; history made in the Levant. (Alternate video link at vimeo. Note: pocket square does not play video.)

 

Free e-card!


happy chanukah!

As promised, here’s Judah Maccabee hammering Romans as a Chanukah e-card. Please copy and share and all that.

P.S.: Any “holiday” gifts more lavish than sharing bits are against my principles, as founder of the Christmas Resistance Movement (which goes for Chanukah overconsumption as well).

Burning Bush


This Burning Bush might be a genetically modified soy plant. That’s what happens when you interpret Torah in Central Illinois.

Jews, Zionists, Israelis

European Jew/Zionist

Oy! Nothing but trouble.

The “European Jew/Zionist” label has has drawn the most criticism in This Land Is Mine. Apparently to Israelis (correct me if I’m wrong – this is what I’m learning from the many comments on the movie, and emails) “Zionist” means “historical Zionist” – the mostly-secular, mostly-socialist, hardworking kibbutz-founding idealists who settled mostly-peacefully in Palestine prior to the establishment of the State of Israel. According to one correspondent,

the founders of Israel in general were not religious Jews but on the contrary – secular and even anti-religious…The mainstream of ultra-orthodoxy sees Zionism as blasphemy… As for the image – in Israeli culture we have a caricature called “Srulik” (which is a nickname for the name “Israel”) that depicts the stereotypical 1940’s “new Israeli Jew” with the hat and the sandals

"Srulik"

Some viewers seem to think my illustration is a Chasid. It’s not; it’s supposed to be an Orthodox-ish Jew. Orthodox Jews apparently don’t have to join the Israeli army (WTH not?!) so this depiction further bothers some people. Orthodox Jews, they point out, are not Zionists.

Here I must clarify that “Zionist” means something slightly different to me, as an American Jew. Wikipedia sums it up:

Zionism (Hebrew: ציונות‎, Tsiyonut) is a form of nationalism of Jews and Jewish culture that supports a Jewish nation state in territory defined as the Land of Israel.[1] Zionism supports Jews upholding their Jewish identity and opposes the assimilation of Jews into other societies and has advocated the return of Jews to Israel as a means for Jews to be liberated from anti-Semitic discrimination, exclusion, and persecution that has occurred in other societies.[1] Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish stateand address threats to its continued existence and security.

I labelled my Orthodox-ish Jew “Zionist” to distinguish him from Jews who aren’t Zionist – like me. When I was growing up, well-meaning relatives and acquaintances would keep asking me when I was going to Israel. “Why should I go to Israel?” I’d ask. Stricken, they would explain how important Israel should be to me. “Everyone needs a homeland!” they’d insist. But I already had a honemland – Urbana, IL. I felt no need for another one, and was troubled that I should create in myself such a need where one didn’t exist. I had enough insecurities already.

Many people use “Jew” and “Zionist” interchangeably, but they’re not the same thing. I am a Jew because I’m descended from a long line of Jews, and because even as atheists my family retained some Jewish cultural quirks. But I am not a Zionist. I don’t need a “homeland” in Israel, and I don’t care if my “Jewish identity” is upheld and assimilation resisted; in fact assimilation is part of my “Jewish identity,” something I’m proud of (as much as I can be legitimately proud of anything other people did before I was born).

I realize as I write this that I represent the religious conservative’s worst nightmare. Like most religions, Judaism requires indoctrination at an early age; Orthodox and Chasids encourage breeding as many offspring as possible, to enlarge the tribe. Assimilation is anathema to religious Jews, because it leads to people like me. I’m supposed to be supporting the Tribe, and instead I’d rather make graven images and spout individualism. I’ve even refused to breed altogether, let alone indoctrinate any spawn.

 

I hope my Great-Zaydie Zalman wouldn't be too disappointed in me.

Anyway, my Orthodox-ish Jew character, if he’s in Israel, is what I’d call a Zionist, although most Israelis would not. That said, I could have left the confusing Zionist label off of him, because he obviously was in Israel in my cartoon.

The “European” part of the label refers to the pressure a vast influx of Jewish refugees from Europe put on Palestine. Yes, there were Zionists there already, living peacefully alongside Arabs and others in the region. And yes, the State of Israel welcomes (or is supposed to welcome) all Jews, not just European ones. But the post-war influx of European Jews really changed things in the region. Would the State of Israel have been established had that not occurred? Would the US have backed it otherwise?

Jews, largely Holocaust survivors, in search of a homeland, aboard the SS Exodus

Why did I draw my character Orthodox-ish at all, when most Zionists and Jews and Israelis don’t look like that? To show the religious side of a “Jewish nation-state” (remember it’s the Jewish nation-state idea that defines Zionists here in the U.S.) And to refer to what I consider the most problematic element in Israel and elsewhere: religious nuts. My character doesn’t look too different from these folks hanging out at the Wailing Wall:

Sayeth Wikipedia:

With the rise of the Zionist movement in the early 20th century, the wall became a source of friction between the Jewish community and the Muslim religious leadership, who were worried that the wall was being used to further Jewish nationalistic claims to the Temple Mount and Jerusalem.

Then of course you have “The Settlers“:

I chose the more Orthodox garb because to me it more than anything said, “religion.” But critics do have a point when they say the Orthodox Jews in Israel get others to do their shooting for them.

There are Jews who are not Zionists. There are Zionists who are not Jews. Most Jews are not Israelis; most Israelis are Jews. Many Jews are not religious; many Israelis are not religious. There are deeply religious people who aren’t violent. There are violent people who aren’t deeply religious.

But when you combine religion, cultural identity, and statehood, you get a bigger mess than any of those things alone. My Orthox-ish dude is contemporary to his State counterpart:

State of Israel

(Thanks to another group of comments, I now know he’s holding the wrong kind of gun, and he’s holding it wrong. That I can live with.)

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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Romans Smite Maccabees

This doesn’t bode well for the Second Temple.