Liza Donnelly, known for her cartoon work in The New Yorker, is one of the few women in the world who has been able to make a living as a political caricaturist. On a recent visit to Israel as a cultural envoy of the US State Department, Donnelly met with local cartoonists and members of the public to discuss the impact of her work and that of other female cartoonists.
“All cartoonists are linked together in the world—it’s our language, one we can communicate in,” Donnelly told an audience at the American Center in Jerusalem, a wing of the US embassy in Tel Aviv on Sunday, August 12.
Donnelly began to draw cartoons as a child, living in Washington DC. “I was shy and didn’t like using words growing up. Drawing was a way of expressing myself and making people around me laugh,” she said.
“I love it here,” she said smiling. “I love how Israelis love the news and how passionate and open they are to discussion. I feel very welcomed here as a non-Jew.”
During Donnelly’s talk, she explained how difficult it was for her draw after September 11. “I had a lot of trouble drawing cartoons after 9/11,” she said.
“One thing that I was surprised by was the ability of Israelis to move on. There’s so much conflict here so I expected much more serious, reserved people, but there’s always humor and laughter in conversations,” she said.
During her visit, Donnelly also met with Israeli and Palestinian cartoonists. “The reality is much more complicated than I expected, especially in Jerusalem in regard to how everyone lives together,” added Donnelly.
“I’m not a politician or a political expert, but I believe that there are many ways to look at peace,” she said.
During her talk, Donnelly showed a number of different cartoons she had drawn over the years as well as cartoons by other women from around the world. “Social media is allowing women’s art to reach more and more people, especially from countries like Iran and China.”
Donnelly introduced the audience to a number of female cartoonists and their political work from a several countries including Turkey, Iran, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. “The Internet removes cultural and physical barriers and we need to read cartoons from around the world in order to understand what is going on,” stated Donnelly.