In today’s English edition of Haaretz I found an interesting article about Marvel Comics superhero Sabra turning 40. Sabra fought the Incredible Hulk and even had an entire book dedicated to her. She apparently still existed in a minor role in 2014. Her character as a Jewish Israeli woman warrior was used to teach in a simplistic way about the Israeli Palestinian conflict. In one of the episodes she pursues the Hulk, thinking he killed a Palestinian boy for helping terrorists. He turns to her and says “Boy died because boy’s people and yours both want to own land. Boy died because you wouldn’t share.” Then she kneels in grief, and the text explains “because she is also a woman capable of feelings, capable of caring.”
I was intrigued and wondered how I missed knowing this woman warrior who was born when my youngest son was 10, my oldest 18 and my daughter, the filling in the sandwich, was 13 years old. For some reason I do not remember any superhero comic books at home, or that any of my kids actually read them. The only comics we ever enjoyed and shared where the ones appearing in the Globe and Mail paper which we received at our home in London, Ontario. The comics and the cartoon are still the first thing we go to when we open the paper. One comic we all still enjoy is “Peanuts” – Charlie Brown. There is a family joke attached to that. When my husband and I started dating in 1965 when we both were at the Weitzman Institute in Israel, he told me one night that one of the things he missed most was peanuts. The next time we met I brought along a bag of roasted peanuts. I thought he would be excited, but he had this look of wonder on his face. Then he burst out laughing. “I meant the comic strip, you know, Charlie Brown”. No, I had no idea what he was talking about. I still have the “Charlie Brown” book he bought to educate me.
So you see, when people from different cultures try to communicate, they need to educate each other about the sensitivities and the cultural baggage they carry with them whether very important to their existence or plain silly but important from a communication point of view. I always say that when you assume, you make an ASS out of U and ME. So it is best to make sure we ask “is this what you meant?” or “I heard this, is that what you meant to say?” Maybe you will not have a story to tell, but your communication will be much improved.
As for the Superhero, It may have been the trigger and forerunner of the women’s movements which flourished in Israel and all over the world, starting from the “4 Mothers” that caused the withdrawal of the Israeli army from Lebanon in May 2000, to the Women in Black who created a large peace movement, to the “Mother protects You” movements wearing orange vests all over the world today, protecting young demonstrators from police and hooligan brutality.