For those of you who don't know Joe Sacco's amazing graphic novel journalism, you should.
In my new position as a teen services librarian i was doing a search of different graphic novels in my library system, and found some problematic cataloging of Joe Sacco's Palestine.
My library has two different records for Palestine. The subject headings on one are truly misleading:
Jewish-Arab relations -- Fiction.
Arab-Israeli conflict -- Fiction.
Journalists -- Fiction.
West Bank -- Fiction.
Gaza Strip -- Fiction.
The same cataloging terms are used in the second catalog record, with different follow up terms (--Comic books, strips, etc.).
The first is misleading because it presents a non-fictional account as fiction (and i hope that the cataloging of this was not malicious, but rather a misunderstanding of the graphic novel form). They're both horrible because of the two specific terms "Jewish-Arab relations" and "Arab-Israeli conflict".
The term "Jewish-Arab relations" has no useful meaning here, other than to continue to conflate the identities of Jews with Israelis and Zionists. As an anti-Zionist Jew I continue to be outraged by how my Jewish identity continues to be hijacked by Zionists. This subject term has been challenged before, and i intend to write to the Library of Congress and follow up on this. Radreffers, be on the lookout for when i organize a day for this!
Even the term "Arab-Israeli conflict" is problematic here, because it ignores the specificity of the colonization of Palestine. By bundling Palestinians (which there actually is a Library of Congress Subject Heading for, as well as Palestine- terms which aren't used in these cataloging records) with all other Arabs, these records continue the lie that Palestinians don't have a specific identity and ties to land that they were driven from.
The cataloging of our library materials matters. Catalog records do tell stories, and these catalog records above very subtly reinforce lies about the relationship of Israelis and Zionism to Palestinians and their rightful struggle for human rights.
If you are interested in political work around Palestine, or are already doing solidarity work and would like to know about a new organization, please check out the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network's website.