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Obituary: Kariel Gardosh, 1921-2000
posted March 30, 2000
Kariel Gardosh, the prominent Israeli political cartoonist known by the pen-name "Dosh," died Monday, February 28 in his home in Tel Aviv from a cardiac arrest. He was 79 years old.
Gardosh was born in Budapest in 1921, and was interred in forced labor camps during World War II. His family lost in the Holocaust, Gardosh studied literature at the Sorbonne before joining the massive wave of Jewish immigrants moving into British-ruled Palestine from post-War Europe. Gardosh, who changed his first name from Karl to Kariel upon his arrival, began living in Palestine shortly before the founding of the Israeli state in 1948.
Gardosh hoped to make a living as a journalist, but later told interviewers he became a caricaturist because he knew almost no Hebrew when he relocated. Gardosh soon found work drawing cartoons for the underground newspapers by the militant Jewish faction Lehi. The Hebrew-language paper Maariv hired the cartoonist in 1953, and remained the primary home for his work until his death, publishing a new cartoon the week of February 21. He also wrote the occasional column for the paper, from a decidedly conservative point of view. English-language versions of his cartoons appeared in the Jerusalem Post, and his work was often collected into book form.
Gardosh was best known for cartoons featuring his character Srulik. Srulik was a small boy in short, sandals and a traditional Tembel hat. Gardosh's character, always intended by the caricaturist to act a symbol for Israel, was a blank slate upon which to reflect the changing national mood and a perfect emblem for the emerging nation's view of itself in the 1960s and 1970s as a small nation surrounded by hostile aggressors. The small boy facing down representative from a hostile Arab world left an indelible impression upon several generations of Israelis allowing the character to remain popular through several changes in the political climate. The character is still a presence in various licensed formats such as posters and stickers.
Gardosh was a firm believer in the power of cartoons, both positive and detrimental. In 1986, at the Second International Conference on Jewish Humour held in New York City, Kardosh gave a presentation called "The Ugly Jew -- A Classic Theme of Graphic Humor." Gardosh traced unflattering caricatures of Jews from the 19th century through the modern era, drawing a link between unpopular political activities and the "Ugly Jew" depiction.
In 1997 a Srulick stamp and postcard was issued in Israel in anticipation of the nation's 50th anniversary celebration, followed in 1998 by a silver Srulick stamp and a series of three Gardosh-drawn stamps depicting postal activities commemorating the national postal service.
In a tribute published in Israel and quoted in the New York Times, Israeli legislator Yosef "Tommy" Lapid wrote that Gardosh was one of the 20th century's great caricaturists and that his work had a great impact on public opinion and political action. "Dosh's Srulik is the symbol of Israel, like Marianne is the symbol of France, John Bull is the symbol of Great Britain and Uncle Sam is the symbol of the United States." Lapid was a former editor at Maariv.
Gardosh served as cultural attaché in the Israeli Embassy in London from 1981 to 1983.
He is survived by his companion Tova Pardo, two children and three grandchildren.