An anime series called Attack on Titan has spooky parallels with the Israel-Palestine conflict

Ayaan Paul
Ayaan PaulOct 10, 2023 | 20:00

An anime series called Attack on Titan has spooky parallels with the Israel-Palestine conflict

The popular manga and anime series created by Hajime Isayama, serves as a powerful allegory for the ongoing outbreak of violence in Palestine and the dangers of continuous systematic oppression. While the series is set in a fictional world filled with giants and unique lore, its themes and narrative elements draw striking parallels to the complex and long-standing conflict between Israel and Palestine.


It goes without saying that this piece would be a deep dive into specifics and lore of the Attack on Titan story, so consider this your


Systematic oppression

At the heart of Attack on Titan lies the theme of oppression, a concept that very clearly resonates deeply with the Palestinian experience. In the series, the race of the Eldians were once the oppressors, using the power of the Titans to dominate other nations, and soon turned into generations of systematically oppressed, forced to live in exile behind walled settlements.

The walled town of Shiganshina in Attack on Titan

This historical oppression can be seen as an allegory for the historical examples of colonialism and occupation faced by many nations, including Palestine. Palestinians have experienced oppression through displacement, occupation, and restrictions on their movement and rights.

The Palestinian Shuafat refugee camp behind Israel's controversial separation wall. Photo: AFP

The cycle of violence

The series also delves into the cycle of hatred, a recurring pattern seen both in the world of Attack on Titan and the Israel-Palestine conflict. The Eldians and Marleyans in the series harbor deep animosity, with each generation inheriting a legacy of hatred and revenge.

The "Declaration of War" in Attack on Titan

The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has perpetuated a similar cycle of violence and retribution. Historical grievances and atrocities committed by both sides are often cited as justifications for ongoing hostilities.

Smoke rises after an Israeli bombardment of Gaza. Photo:" Getty Images

Land dispute

Territorial disputes are central to both Attack on Titan and the Israel-Palestine conflict. In the series, Paradis Island represents a contested territory, and the struggle for control over this land drives much of the plot.

The island of Paradis in Attack on Titan

Similarly, the Israel-Palestine conflict is fundamentally a dispute over territory and land rights. Israelis lay claim to historical ties to a region that has predominantly been occupied by the Palestinians for centuries, leading to ongoing tensions over borders and sovereignty.


Dehumanisation is a recurring theme in Attack on Titan. The Eldians are often referred to as "devils," and dehumanizing rhetoric is used to portray them negatively.

A panel depicting the dehumanisation of the Eldians from the Attack on Titan manga.

 In the real world, dehumanization of the opposing side is a common element in conflicts, including the Israel-Palestine conflict. Such dehumanization can contribute to an environment where violence and human rights abuses are easier to justify.

Palestinians carry a dead body after Israeli airstrikes hit al-Susi Mosque in Gaza Strip. Photo: Getty Images

Sphere of influence

Power imbalances are evident in both the fictional world of Attack on Titan and the real-world Israel-Palestine conflict. In the series, the Eldians possess the formidable power of the Titans, which they once used to oppress other nations. 

The Armoured Titan and the Attack Titan from Attack on Titan

This power imbalance is akin to the military and technological advantages that Israel holds over the Palestinians. The resulting disproportionate impact on the conflict raises questions about fairness and justice.

A Palestinian points to the Ahmed Yassin mosque, which was levelled by Israeli airstrikes. Photo: Getty Images

Controlling the narrative

Propaganda and manipulation play a significant role in shaping public perception and justifying actions in Attack on Titan. The ruling powers use propaganda to control the narrative and maintain their authority. 

A panel from the Attack on Titan manga.

In the Israel-Palestine conflict, narratives have been instrumental in shaping international opinion and rationalizing various actions taken by both sides. Media coverage, political rhetoric, and public discourse have all been influenced by competing narratives.

Revising history

The complexity of history is a central theme in Attack on Titan. The series presents a multifaceted history of the conflict, with different perspectives and contradictory accounts. 

Similarly, the Israel-Palestine conflict is marked by a complex historical narrative with competing narratives and interpretations. Historical events, agreements, and grievances are often viewed differently by Israelis and Palestinians, leading to ongoing disputes over the past.

In Attack on Titan, the Marleyans and Eldians have each played the role of oppressor and oppressed at different points in history. This fluidity of power dynamics mirrors the shifting narratives in the Israel-Palestine conflict, where historical experiences of oppression and victimhood are claimed by both sides. The series challenges the notion of a clear moral high ground and underscores the complexity of real-world conflicts.

The Rumbling 

In Attack on Titan, Eren's decision to initiate the Rumbling was driven by several factors, including a desire for vengeance, a longing for freedom, and a belief that constant war and oppression would persist unless drastic action was taken. 

Eren, like many Eldians, felt the weight of historical guilt and the punishment for the actions of their ancestors. He believed that the only way to secure a future for his people, free from the stigma of their violent history, was through catastrophic measures.

A panel from the Attack on Titan manga depicting the devastation caused by the Rumbling

Similarly, in the Israel-Palestine conflict, there is a long history of violence, bloodshed, and oppression that has persisted for generations. Both Israelis and Palestinians carry the burdens of their historical experiences, grievances, and the consequences of past conflicts. The conflict has resulted in suffering and loss for both sides, and there is a deep-seated desire for justice, security, and self-determination.

Longing to be free

Eren saw freedom as the most important goal and believed that the constant threat of opposition and oppression tied his people down. 

A self-explanatory panel from the Attack on Titan manga

In the same vein, Palestinians have long sought freedom from occupation and the right to establish their own state. Israelis, on the other hand, have sought security and the right to live in peace without the threat of violence.

Members Iraq's Shiite Muslim al-Nujaba movement wave the Palestinian flag. Photo: Getty Images

Breaking point

Eren's decision to unleash the army of Colossal Titans in the Rumbling can be likened to a desperate attempt to break free from the cycle of violence and oppression. He believed that by eliminating those who defined the Eldians by their violent history, only Eldia would remain, and they could forge a new future. In his mind, this extreme action was necessary to achieve lasting peace and freedom.

A brutal panel depicting the civilain causualties of the Rumbling from the Attack on Titan manga.

In the context of the Israel-Palestine conflict, there have been moments when extreme actions were taken in pursuit of a solution. The use of force, territorial disputes, and the construction of barriers and walls have all been part of the struggle for control and security. These actions, while driven by different motivations and contexts, have often resulted in further division and suffering.

Palestinians inspect the damage following an Israeli airstrike on the Sousi mosque in Gaza City. Photo: Getty Images

Fact and Fiction

It's of course important to note that the key difference between Eren's fictional decision in Attack on Titan and the real-world Israel-Palestine conflict is that Eren's actions had supernatural consequences within the story, while real-world conflicts involve complex political, historical, and human elements. Eren's choice to unleash the Wall Titans was a fantastical and apocalyptic event within the fictional narrative, whereas the situation in Palestine is a complex geopolitical and humanitarian crisis with very real consequences.

A panel from the Attack on Titan manga

Whether intentional or otherwise, Isayama’s epic offers a thought-provoking allegory for the Israel-Palestine conflict by exploring themes of oppression, the cycle of hatred, propaganda, territorial disputes, dehumanisation, power imbalances, and the complexity of history. 

The long-awaited Final Episode of Attack on Titan airs on November 4.

Last updated: October 10, 2023 | 22:15
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