Dry Bones battles against BDS, media bias

Longtime ‘Jerusalem Post’ cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen passionately speaks about empowering an army of online cartoon activists.

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
November 4, 2015 12:10
Yaakov Kirschen

Yaakov Kirschen, The Jerusalem Post’s famous Dry Bones cartoonist,. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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Yaakov Kirschen, The Jerusalem Post’s famous Dry Bones cartoonist, is campaigning to raise funds for a very special project he’s designed to fight the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and the anti-Israel bias of the media. It’s called the Dry Bones Academy of Cartoon Advocacy.

Yaakov, could you tell us what that academy is?

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Certainly. The Dry Bones Academy is my answer to the BDS boycott movement that has infected campuses throughout what we used to call the free world. And I’m reaching out to Dry Bones fans and Jewish foundations for grants and financial support.

How does the Dry Bones Academy answer the challenge of the BDS movement?

By training an army of cartoon activists to fight both the anti-Israel media bias and the propaganda and lies being spread by the campus boycott bullies.

Why cartoons, why now, and why the Dry Bones Academy?

Cartoons have become more important than ever. The online world of social media gives us a fantastic opportunity to fight the growing anti-Israel bias of the media that feeds the lies of the boycott movement. The time is now, but we need to create and empower an army of cartoon activists.

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Is your academy teaching people how to draw?

No! We’re teaching students how to create cartoon messages.

But doesn’t that mean that they need to know how to draw?

Not at all. If Picasso had done one painting folks would have said that he didn’t know how to draw. But doing 50 paintings in the same consistent style showed that he was a master. It’s the same with cartoonists. It doesn’t matter how they draw, as long as their style is consistent.

So what are you teaching your students?

Newspaper cartoons are outliving major print newspapers. Other than unique publications like the Jerusalem Post, readers are not getting the full story. The online cartoonist has to both report the news and to comment on it. Students at the Dry Bones Academy are taught how to do those two jobs.

But don’t people know what the news is?

No they don’t! The news that’s delivered by major media outlets like CNN or The New York Times conforms to the bias of those media organizations. And what they choose not to report is as important as what they do report. Many important organizations like CAMERA, Honest Reporting and others fight against the bias of the media. MEMRI and Palestinian Media Watch report on the propaganda of our enemies, but we can’t win a war by just defending ourselves. We need to go on the offensive! We need to build an army of trained cartoonists to speak for us. To report and comment on the news.

So now the job of the cartoonist is to report the news?

Absolutely! To report and to comment.

Your Dry Bones cartoons often use humor and satire to get your point across. Does the academy teach that?

Yes. Dry Bones cartoons reach thousands of readers, but I am not enough. To win this battle we need an army of Dry Bones cartoonists. Humor is an important weapon in the hands of the cartoon activist and these days is an important way to report the news.

You say that humor is an important way to report the news?

Yes. More and more Americans now get their news from TV comedians. The comedian says “Did you see where they found water on Mars?” and then he goes on to deliver the punch line. The comedian, in that way, delivers the news and his punch-line comment. It is the same for cartoonists.

I understand that hundreds of Dry Bones fans and several Jewish foundations have already provided thousands of dollars in funding?

That’s true, but the academy needs more if we are to produce well-trained journalist-cartoonists to spread the generally unreported news that the public otherwise does not get.

And where do these cartoonists get the otherwise unreported news to report?

Where to find the news is one important part of what the Dry Bones Academy teaches, along with the history of political cartooning, strategies and techniques. We’re talking about a real school. An Academy of Cartoon Advocacy and Activism.

Will the academy be offering other courses?

We’re planning to offer a number of other courses. One course examines the viral images of anti-Semitism that infect contemporary cartoons. A second course is called A 20th Century Cartoonist’s battle Against Evil and Isolation. It is an analysis of the political cartoons of Dr. Seuss, who struggled in a period much like ours. With foreign “isms” that threatened democracy and local isolationism that sought to ignore the threat.

And where are you building the Dry Bones Academy?

The academy is totally online. We’re not raising money to be wasted on constructing buildings, lecture halls and classrooms.

The Dry Bones Academy is totally online?

Yes. The Dry Bones Academy is totally online. Thousands of students are trapped on campuses where the BDS bullies have taken over. We want to reach them where they are, they don’t need to travel to some brick and mortar campus.

The Dry Bones Academy is only for college students?

No. Both high school kids and retired people [are] applying to become students.

So the Dry Bones Online Academy of Cartoon Advocacy is a real school?

Absolutely. It is a real school which, in addition to freeing the student from the cost of travel and housing, the online academy itself is freed from the high cost of constructing ... [actual] buildings.

Speaking of cost, where have you raised the funds to build the academy?

As I’ve said, we’ve raised funds from hundreds of individuals and a number of foundations, which has enabled us to open our doors, but we need to expand and grow. And so I’m appealing for help. Folks can take a peek at the academy now by going to www.DryBonesAcademy.com.

The academy is looking for both supporters and students?

We have donors, supporters and students. Supporters pay $25 to become members. Members have access to our archives, forums and all kinds of neat stuff. Pretty much everything but the courses. Students pay an additional $100 for our basic course, the Art of Political Cartooning. And at the site, foundations can find details about how to donate serious amounts of funding.

Who seems to be interested in your Dry Bones Academy?

Our supporters and students are people who want to confront the anti-Israel bias of the mainstream media and battle the takeover of campuses by the BDS boycott bullies.

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