“Homeland: The Illustrated History of the State of Israel” begins with Abraham and takes the reader through a tremendous graphic representation of what is called “Israel’s world view.”
Using the storytelling device of an unnamed college professor who lectures about the State of Israel, Homeland starts in biblical times with a history of Israel that culminates in the struggle to establish a modern nation-state.
Marv Wolfman, a longtime comics writer, provides the words, and Mario Ruiz, who did the art for Testament and Samson: Judge of Israel, is the artist. Both bring a wealth of experience to the work. William J. Rubin, executive editor of Nachshon Press, conceived the project.
What Homeland does well is give an overview of the political philosophy known as Zionism. It makes clear that Zionism is not just a single movement, but rather a collection of movements with bases ranging from religion to labor.
All have one thing in common, however. They seek establishment of a Jewish homeland that will act to unite the world’s Jews. This philosophy is at the heart of everything we read about Israel in the book.
The professor tells her students how the people of Israel moved through the empires of the Near East and into the modern day. All the while, holding the land is central to their story.
Christians are involved in this history, too. Christian emperors also viewed the land as sacred, invoking the term “Holy Land” and claiming exclusive rights over it. Such a perspective led Christians to vilify Jews as the “killers of Christ.”
There is much here about what the state of Israel has done–such as its concern for the immigration and rescue of Jews and refugees.
Homeland states that Israel has worked for peace, but has been the victim of Arab aggression. It is argued that Arabs would not let Israel exist and are always trying to remove Jews from Israel.
Palestinians are mentioned, but little attention is given to their point of view. The promise of land to Israel is the trump card for holding it by “sacred right.”
The book lacks detail about other Bible teachings given to the people, such as to be a nation of priests. Here, the land becomes the people’s raison d’etre, and the teaching of the prophets is interpreted as focused on the establishment of the temple as a place where all nations would stream. This is one interpretation, of course, but others are missed. Holding the land is seemingly the focus of faith.
It would be good to see how the story of Abraham currently intersects with Israeli lives. How does this faith foundation speak in the present time? Does it have anything to say to those who feel disenfranchised by the claims of the promise?
“Homeland” is a good primer about the political history of the state of Israel, but a reader needs to look elsewhere to see the larger import of the teachings of the Jews and the story of Abraham.
Mike Parnell is pastor of Beth Car Baptist Church in Halifax, Va.