Harvey Pekar's mother was a Zionist by way of politics. His father was a Zionist by way of faith. Whether Harvey was going to daily Hebrew classes or attending Zionist picnics, he grew up a staunch supporter of the Jewish state. But soon he found himself questioning the very beliefs and ideals of his parents.
In Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me, the final graphic memoir from the man who defined the genre, Pekar explores what it means to be Jewish and what Israel means to the Jews. Over the course of a single day in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, Pekar and the illustrator JT Waldman wrestle with the mythologies and realities surrounding the Jewish homeland. Pekar interweaves his increasing disillusionment with the modern state of Israel with a comprehensive history of the Jewish people from biblical times to the present, and the result is a personal and historical odyssey of uncommon power. Plainspoken and empathetic, Pekar had no patience for injustice and prejudice in any form, and though he comes to understand the roots of his parents' unquestioning love for Israel, he arrives at the firm belief that all peoples should be held to the same universal standards of decency, fairness, and democracy.
With an epilogue written by Joyce Brabner, Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me is an essential book for fans of Harvey Pekar and anyone interested in the past and future of the Jewish state. It is bound to create important discussions and debates for years to come.
"[Pekar's] message here is important—that a good Jew asks tough questions, that a history of oppression requires us to be more conscious of the oppressed."—David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times
"This is not only Pekar's greatest work, but probably the most powerful use of his talent for plainly speaking truth to power and ignorance. JT Waldman masterfully captures the wry innocence of Harvey's interrogation while still celebrating the subtle contours of modern American Jewishness."—Douglas Rushkoff, author of Life Inc. and Program or Be Programmed
"A fascinating history of the so-called Promised Land—as seen through the eyes of an estranged Jew from Cleveland. Brimming with classic Pekar asides and details, the book sheds light on a subject often obscured by heat. JT Waldman's evocative artwork combines down-to-earth American Splendor–style illustrations with motifs inspired by everything from mythology and Islamic art to illuminated manuscripts and Chagall. I never got to say goodbye to Harvey, but reading this book was like having a final conversation with him."—Josh Neufeld, American Splendor artist, and author and artist of A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge
"Pekar peppers accounts of perpetual persecution with poignant autobiographical anecdotes in this concise, compelling, and sure-to-be controversial graphic history of the Jewish people and the state of Israel. JT Waldman's art, juxtaposing realism with ancient styles, rocking exquisite mosaics and elaborate medieval and Middle Eastern design flourishes, is nothing less than a majestic tour de Schwartz."—Jeff Newelt, Heeb Magazine comics editor, and editor of Harvey Pekar's Cleveland
"Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me is Harvey Pekar's final exploration of his conflict over the history of Israel, as illuminated by JT Waldman's protean art. This is their Jewish Book of Hours."—Dean Haspiel, artist of The Quitter and Cuba: My Revolution
"One part history lesson, one part autobiography, and all Harvey Pekar, Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me is an insightful look at one of the burning topics of our time. With Pekar's scholarship and humor and JT Waldman's stylistically varied art, this graphic book is visually entertaining and highly informative."—Peter Kuper, artist of The Metamorphosis
"This posthumous publication reflects the seminal graphic memoirist at his edgy best."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"[T]his posthumous work by Pekar functions as a multipronged exploration of religious, political, and personal histories and is all the richer for it . . . A sweet and simple epilogue by Pekar's widow, Joyce Brabner, provides the perfect capstone."—Publishers Weekly