³Bendib is an Equal opportunity skewer. The more a subject or victim is ignored by the mass media, the more he infuriates, informs and intensifies the reader¹s attention. Cartoons need to jolt. Bendib obliges page after page.²



³Khalil Bendib always delights me with his intellectual and extremely poignant, often times sadly funny, cartoons. This book should be required reading for all concerned with social justice everywhere!"



"Khalil Bendib, with a few ingenious strokes of his pen, gets to the heart of the issues of our time. His cartoons are in the greatest tradition of American political humor, with that combination of wit and intelligence so needed in the struggle for justice."



"Khalil Bendib is your friendly non-violent castigator of all the powers that oppress us."




At once rueful and hilarious, this collection by widely syndicated, Berkeley, Calif.­based, Muslim American political cartoonist Bendib graphically illustrates the Orwellian relationship between the rhetoric of freedom among the powerful and the realities faced by those on the receiving end. These topical single-frame tableaux, mostly drawn from 2003 to this year, are ingeniously detailed and only occasionally dated. One shows a military graveyard with headstones converted into filling-station pumps, while another presents the Statue of Liberty as pregnant with political prisoners, the world¹s largest penal population and detainees in U.S.-sponsored camps and secret prisons worldwide. Bendib is an equal opportunity offender who connects the dots with gusto‹whether dogging the Bush administration¹s blunders in Iraq or post-Katrina New Orleans; nuclear proliferation; racism in the U.S.; corporate welfare and waste; Islamophobia; the faux democracies of Middle Eastern autocrats; or Israel¹s continuing occupation and colonization of Palestinian land (one memorable image has Bush in Siamese twinship with Jerry Falwell¹s Christian Right, lecturing Palestinian voters on the democratic necessity of separating church and state). Those inclined to see the Bush administration¹s ³war on terror² as an excuse for imperial aggrandizement and corporate greed will find Bendib¹s no-holds-barred satire fiercely funny. Those not so inclined, beware.




By Norman Solomon

In this time of satellite-guided missiles and computer-generated graphics, a political cartoonist can go to work with nothing more than a pen. The best outcomes run directly counter to the artificial fog and lethal hypocrisy that dominate the media landscape. Many cartoonists go through the motions, but few are able to fulfill the potential. This book accomplishes the mission -- in direct opposition to the policy-makers and elites who thrive on war and inequities.

Open this book at random, and you’ll see a couple of cartoons that tell you much more about the real world than the latest edition of the New York Times can manage. Khalil Bendib will never snuggle into (as he puts it) "an embedded media ... putting America to sleep." In the best traditions of political art, his creations offer vantage points with lines-of-sight that contradict the favorite angles of mass media.

Mission Accomplished is about point of view. The cartoons invert the U.S. media “reality" -- which is to say, the cartoons subvert media unreality -- by focusing on disputes and debates in human terms. For the typical American viewer, listener, and reader, this book’s P.O.V. is a world turned up side down. The modern-day princes and potentates, the wealthy investors and powerful politicians, are stripped of their pretensions and placed in context of their effects on vast numbers of individual human beings.

From ground level, Khalil Bendib helps us to see -- and, in the process, cuts through hazy illusions. An unspoken precept of news coverage often elevates the humanity of people in one group over another. The media juxtapositions routinely encourage us to choose between two sides -- fundamentalist zealots in Washington or Tehran, wanton killers on one side or another in Iraq, competing teams of religious fanatics who are eager to slaughter in the name of their particular faith.

This book refuses to accept such false choices. Bendib’s cartoons scramble a deck that has been stacked by the demagogues and crusaders who feel that they must diminish the humanity of others to exalt their own. Along the way, the cartoons in Mission Accomplished may strike some American viewers as harsh -- and no wonder, since the baseline of political cartooning in the United States is so unwilling to step hard on the hooves of such sacred bovines as Israel, the “Defense" Department and the 21st century version of American corporate capitalism.

"The most sacred cow of the press is the press itself," the great media critic George Seldes commented many decades ago. And today, despite surface potshots, the mainstream news outlets are by and large notably respectful of their own prerogatives and corporatized sensibilities. In such a media environment, the need for the pen-and-ink work of Khalil Bendib is greater than ever.

No wonder he can lay claim to being “America’s most censored political cartoonist.” This guy keeps breaking the unwritten rules that keep daily newspaper cartoonists within well-understood boundaries. When the day comes that the lives of Palestinian children and Jewish children are treated with equal reverence by U.S. news media, Khalil Bendib might consider taking a well-earned long sabbatical. But in the meantime, his sharp pen is badly needed.

Likewise, when news coverage reflects the fact that (in the words of GOP-airbrushed Adam Smith) “labor creates all wealth” instead of the other way around, the need for Bendib’s cartoons on economic justice will not be so great. And when equitable health care or environmental protection becomes more important than maximizing the profits of major investors, this book might not even need a sequel.

But in the world you and I live in, we need all the help we can get! So keep on drawing, Khalil Bendib!


Norman Solomon’s books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.¹