Our logo is the cartoon character Handala, created by the great Palestinian artist Naji Al-Ali.
From 1975 through 1987 Naji Al-Ali created cartoons that depicted the complexities of the plight of Palestinian refugees, and Handala, the refugee child who is present in every cartoon, remains a potent symbol of the struggle of the Palestinian people for justice and self-determination.
Naji Al-Ali wrote of his character:
The child Handala is my signature, everyone asks me about him wherever I go. I gave birth to this child in the Gulf and I presented him to the people. His name is Handala and he has promised the people that he will remain true to himself. I drew him as a child who is not beautiful; his hair is like the hair of a hedgehog who uses his thorns as a weapon. Handala is not a fat, happy, relaxed, or pampered child. He is barefooted like the refugee camp children, and he is an icon that protects me from making mistakes. Even though he is rough, he smells of amber. His hands are clasped behind his back as a sign of rejection at a time when solutions are presented to us the American way.
Handala was born ten years old, and he will always be ten years old. At that age, I left my homeland, and when he returns, Handala will still be ten, and then he will start growing up. The laws of nature do not apply to him. He is unique. Things will become normal again when the homeland returns.
I presented him to the poor and named him Handala as a symbol of bitterness. At first, he was a Palestinian child, but his consciousness developed to have a national and then a global and human horizon. He is a simple yet tough child, and this is why people adopted him and felt that he represents their consciousness.
Naji Al-Ali was born in 1936 in the Palestinian village of Ash Shajara. In 1948, Ash Shajara was one of the 480 villages destroyed in what is known as the Nakba, Arabic for catastrophe, which occurred in 1947-48 and in which Palestinians lost more than half of their land, massacres took place, and 750,000 refugees were created. Naji Al-Ali was 10 years old when he and his family were expelled from Palestine to Ein Al-Hilweh refugee camp in Lebanon.
Naji Al-Ali grew up to become perhaps the most popular cartoonist in the Arab world. With brutal honesty, Naji Al-Ali analyzed the relationships between the governments of the United States, Israel, and the Arab regimes and the ramifications for the Palestinians.
Naji Al-Ali was well loved for his work but was also hated, as illustrated by the many death threats he and his family received. On July 22, 1987, in London, Naji Al-Ali was assassinated as he walked towards the offices of Al-Qabas newspaper. He died in the hospital on August 29. His murderer has never been apprehended.