Come meet Miriam Libicki in Tel Aviv

The artist behind the brilliant Jobnik! series, about her service in the IDF during the Al Aqsa Intifada, will be signing her new graphic novel in Tel Aviv this coming Friday, September 12.

Location: Comix ‘n Vegetables, 40 King George Street (around the corner from the Dizengoff Center).

Time: We are going to kick things off at 11.00 a.m. with a little Q&A session (I’ll do the Q; Miriam will do the A).

Miriam moved to Israel when she was 17, served in the army and then ended up studying art in Vancouver, Canada – which is my home town.

I, on the other hand, ran away from left Vancouver when I was 17 in order to move to Israel, but did not serve in the army. Instead, I went to study Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures at Columbia. A decade later, I moved back to Israel. Also, we both attended Orthodox day schools. She is still observant; I am not.

We think the bizarre overlaps in our respective backgrounds are amusing, and that they will make the Q&A session amusing, too.

Special note to all you foreign journos languishing up on the hill (a.k.a. Jerusalem), bored because it’s Ramadan and there’s nothing to write about: come on down to TLV this Friday. We can go for beers on the beach afterward, and you’ll have a nice little human interest story to file for the weekend edition.

More about Miriam and the Jobnik! series:

The story of a nice Jewish girl serving in the IDF during an undeclared war

Miriam is a different kind of comic heroine. She also presents a rather different – certainly less glam – image of female IDF soldiers than the one presented in this much-publicized photo essay. (By the way, if you have not read Idan Gazit’s comment in response to the BoingBoing post about the photo essay, you really should. For those who know little about how mandatory IDF service affects new recruits, it’ll be an education. Click here to read, and scroll down for more interesting comments).

With her charming ineptitude, her body issues, and her naïve romanticism, Miriam bears more resemblance to Bridget Jones (albeit a Bridget Jones on an Israeli army base during wartime) than Wonder Woman. Now, her story, in the form of a 160-page graphic novel titled jobnik! from Real Gone Girl Studios, is available to a mass audience for the first time.

The story begins when Miriam, an American-Jewish girl from a religious home, enlists in the Israeli army (IDF) in the summer of 2000, against everyone’s better judgment. Many qualities seem to make her unsuited for IDF life: her Hebrew isn’t great, she is shy and passive, and she has a tendency to fall in love with anything that moves. If that weren’t enough, the Al Aqsa uprising, a.k.a. the second Palestinian intifada, erupts one month into her tour of duty.

jobnik! is a sexy, tragic, and comic graphic memoir, written and drawn by Miriam Libicki, an American-born, Canada-based IDF veteran. “I moved to Israel in 1998, after seventeen years growing up as an Orthodox girl in Columbus, Ohio.” Miriam says. “I only went on a year program, but I fell so hard for all the Israelis I met, that I realized my destiny was to dedicate myself to the country, and do whatever it took to be a real Israeli. I spent a year lobbying for citizenship, and afterwards promptly enlisted in the Israel Defense Force. My enthusiasm for army service was not exactly reciprocated by the people in charge, though… and I spent the next two years as a totally superfluous secretary on a training base in the middle of the Arava desert.

“A month after I enlisted, the Camp David peace accords broke down, Ariel Sharon walked on the Temple Mount, and the second Intifada broke out. The next two years were some of the most violent in the history of Israel, not to mention the worldwide aftershocks of September 11th, halfway through my tour of duty. The graphic novel covers August 2000 to February 2001, but the saga of my entire army service, up until May 2002, will be told in further volumes.

Excerpts from the Jobnik! series:


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10 responses to “Come meet Miriam Libicki in Tel Aviv

  1. I find it strange to see an Israeli mention the Mohammed Al-Dura footage. I thought it was generally accepted by now that this footage was faked. A French journalist was brought to court because he wrote the footage was staged, but after seeing the original, unedited footage, the French judge ruled in favour of the journalist, because of the “inexplicable incoherence” in the footage and the “inexplicable inconsistencies and contradictions” in the declarations of the cameraman. Read the whole story here: http://www.standpointmag.co.uk/faking-a-killing-july?page=0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0

    Yes, someone made a similar comment the last time I blogged about Miriam’s comics. I find it interesting that you – and the previous commenter – focused on the mention of the al Dura incident, rather than focusing on the art and wider themes of the Jobnik! series. At any rate, Miriam does not blame one side for Mohammed al Dura’s death. It was a highly publicized incident that came to symbolize a very tragic time for both Israelis and Palestinians. Lisa

  2. I don’t really have much to say about the Jobnik! series, because this is the first time I read about it. But it sure seems interesting. It makes me think of Persepolis a bit, but I’m probably not the first one to come up with that. 🙂

    I didn’t mean to judge Miriam and her work just because she mentions the al Dura incident. It had a very big impact on Arab public opinion. I didn’t know about it’s impact on Israelis, but I can imagine it must be hard to see such images if your country is held responsible for the death of that boy. I can imagine that changes your view on politics. And if it does, it’s only natural to mention it in an autobiographical work.

    But I never really thought about the impact of this incident on Israelis before. That’s why I found it strange to see it being mentioned as a fact in an Israeli graphic novel, while the boy we saw in that footage is probably still alive today. But I guess that doesn’t really matter anymore. Myths change history, it happens all the time.

  3. hooray! it is true, we have a bunch of odd & entertaining parallels in our canadian-american-israeli lives.

    & there’s no need to change your post, but i am an insecure perfectionist artist, so i am compelled to tell you that in my recent redrawing frenzy i redrew those four pages also.

    marscitizen, i haven’t read much about the forgery claims, so i don’t have an opinion one way or the other. but in israel, at the time (october 2000), it seemed very real, awful, & our fault. & not just to me, i believe, to most people. i think the idf even apologized. that’s what i’m writing about.

  4. I enjoyed that! Will try to make it on friday.
    The name of the store is quite amusing as well and will, in itself, be an extra reason for me to come! 🙂

    marscitizen wrote: “I thought it was generally accepted by now that this footage was faked”
    Of course. Among racist negationists, it is. Jeez. I had no idea people like you, marscitizen, still existed. Piles of bodies obviously won’t make it, for you. A shame indeed.

    @Mohamed: I don’t think calling Mars Citizen a “racist negationist” is, um, a constructive way to engage in debate about a controversial and tragic subject. Easy, tiger, k? xx Lisa

  5. Sounds like fun. I think I might be coming around if I can make it.
    Tse.

  6. I loved the story and the pictures, I’ll do my best to come this Friday, may be just for a half an hour, I’ve got some idea about it. Do you really mean you start at 11?

    Yup, starting at 11. I’d love to see you there, too. Lisa

  7. Thanks Lisa, as a female who has served in the (British) military and is now trying to build a career in documentary photography, whilst also dabbling in graphic stories on the side, your blog entry was almost tailor made for me! I found both Miriam Libicki’s and Rachel Papo’s work very interesting and will look for both books on Amazon.

    I also found Idan Gazit’s comments in the BoingBoing post really interesting, especially the IDF’s emphasis on weapons training, which pretty much matched how we are trained here in the UK (although we get to lock our rifles away in the armoury when we are off duty).

  8. Pingback: The Jewish Culture Log of Arts » Blog Archive » meet Paul Buhle, Miriam Libicki, or Arie Kaplan

  9. Photos from the event are up at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/idangazit/sets/72157607246955828/show/

    @Nicola: thanks! I imagine that any military that cares for the lives of its soldiers would implement a similar doctrine. I think that it is particularly important here, where the trainees are largely 18-year-old hotheads.

  10. @Idan: I wish that were true, but unless thing have changed with the US military since I was serving (which is certainly possible), they didn’t have quite the same attitude to weapons safety. In HM Forces, if we had a ‘negligent’ discharge we’d almost certainly face Courts Martial, where as if US personnel had an ‘accidental’ discharge, so long as they didn’t actually hit anyone or anything valuable, they just had to pay for the round (so a few cents).
    Of course this may be some kind of urban legend, but it was a US Army Lt-Col who told me about the policy, so unless she was winding me up…! Maybe that attitude is why there are so many shootings in the US compared with, say Canada, even though I’m pretty sure I read that gun ownership is proportionally similar to the US?!
    Nice to see that the IDF takes weapons drills seriously!

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