Thursday, July 09, 2015

Interview in Dispatch from Jerusalem

Kirschen, Dry Bones, Bridges for Peace, crowdfunding,indiegogo, Dispatch from Jerusalemm interview,
AS you probably know, I am seeking funding to launch an Online Dry Bones Academy of Cartoon Advocacy. Dispatch from Jerusalem has just published an article about my crowdfunding campaign at indiegogo (
“We are at war,” says Yaakov Kirschen, the man behind the popular Dry Bones comic strip. The battle lines of this war, he says, are clearly drawn. In contemporary society, according to Kirschen, combat is no longer confined to traditional warfare and tactics. The advance of modern technology brings with it a host of unchartered fronts of attack—all of which require fortification and defense. Take electronic media for example. The rapidly increasing popularity of social media and instant messaging means that the battle for public opinion is won and lost on the internet. And cartoons have become a propaganda weapon of choice—especially when it comes to launching an attack on the existence, values and culture of Israel, the United States and Western society as a whole.

Cartoons have become one of the most important means of communication in today’s society, says Kirschen. The recent massacre at French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, arguably supports this notion. Controversial cartoons ribbing Muhammad are widely believed to have been the motivating factor behind the attack, thus illustrating the strong emotional response that images can evoke.

Recent years have seen an alarming increase in the volume and venom of political cartoons being wielded as a weapon of attack against Judeo–Christian values and Western society. A simple Google search yields countless pages dedicated to anti-American and anti-Semitic imagery. The graphics typically pitch a bloodthirsty, evil and overpowering US–Jewish coalition against a tiny, peace-loving and downtrodden few. It is a growing market with a rapidly increasing audience. Every day cartoons of this nature flood the electronic media.

Kirschen is not taking the assault lying down. His counter offensive comes in the form of the Dry Bones Academy of Cartoon Advocacy and Activism. The online academy’s strategy is simple, he says. “As a 20th-century cartoonist, I want to train a generation of 21st-century cartoonists in the art, science and techniques of being activists and advocates—to use their cartoons to spread Judeo–Christian values, to fight for who we are and what we believe.”

Kirschen’s aim is for cartoonists to use their pens as powerful weapons to curb the flood of radical anti-Judeo-Christian rhetoric. “The enemy we face is a group of people whose aim is to subject the whole world to their god, belief and culture,” he says. “And in the process, they will destroy anything that does not conform or subjugate.”

It is in this area that Kirschen wants to raise up an army of artists to draw on behalf of human rights and freedom of expression. Cartoonists, he believes, are ideally positioned to do this job. “They should be fighting for Western rights, culture and values. If Yazidis or Nigerian Christians are being slaughtered, they should condemn it. And they should speak out forcefully. They should see themselves as warriors.”

The power of cartoons, says Kirschen, lies in their unique ability to creep past defensive radars. A message that uses the written word only often allows the reader to dismiss the author’s statement or simply ignore the article. “But if I make my case in the way of a cartoon, then people will laugh at it,” explains Kirschen. “At the point at which they laugh, for that moment they see the world through my eyes.”

Kirschen’s Dry Bones comic strip has kept readers chuckling for nearly half a century. The name, he explains, refers to the vision of the Valley of Bones in Ezekiel 37. Since taking its first bow in The Jerusalem Post on 1 January 1973, the award-winning strip became a daily staple in Israeli life. Hailed as “a treasure of the Jewish people,” Dry Bones has been reprinted and quoted internationally in the likes of the New York Times, the Times of London, Los Angeles Times, News Week, Time Magazine and Forbes.

Now, according to Kirschen, the time has come for him to pass the baton to the next generation of talented artists. “Before I go I want to teach cartoonists the lessons I have learned in more than 40 years of how to do it.”

“We are not going to teach people how to draw, but rather show them what the goal of their drawings is,” explains Kirschen. “It is to do something that will present the truth to someone who does not want to see the truth. That is what the Dry Bones Academy is all about.”

Yaakov Kirschen started Dry Bones in 1973. He has been published in the Jerusalem Post for more than 40 years and reprinted in the New York Times, Times of London, Los Angeles Times, News Week, Times Magazine and Forbes. For some more Dry Bones humor and information on the Academy, visit

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