"It is important to laugh a little at ourselves"
"It is important to laugh a little at ourselves"Tal Lazar

With the celebration of his 81st birthday, President Reuven Rivlin will on Monday open the “Basic Law/Laugh: President of the State – Israeli presidents in cartoons” exhibit which will be on display at Beit HaNasi (Presidential Residence).

The exhibition, the initiative of Beit HaNasi’s curator, Yuval Keshet in consultation with the director of the visitors’ center Yinon Guttel-Klein and the assistance of the Israeli Cartoon and Comics Museum in Holon, will display 24 cartoons of Israeli presidents over the years. The cartoons are the work of Israeli artists Yosef Bass, Yosef Ross, Dosh (Kariel Gardosh), Arieh Navon, Ze’ev (Ya’akov Farkash), Peretz Weinreich, Shlomo Cohen, Shai Charki, Itamar Doeva, Boris Dickerman, Hanoch Piven, Jacky, Amos Biderman, Michel Kishka, Daniela London Dekel and Tal Lezer.

Through the cartoons in the exhibition, we can feel the historic period in which they appeared – including how Presidents Chaim Weizmann and Reuven Rivlin dealt with challenging election results, and President Yitzhak Navon and President of Egypt Anwar Sadat on the way to peace.

Taken together, the cartoons are a wide-ranging diverse album of creativity. Some of them describe key events in Israel’s history, including those which are relevant today, as the wheel of history revolves. Others are portraits, drawn in recognition of a president. In this way, the exhibition tells two stories – firstly the history of Israel, reflected beyond the institution of the presidency and the presidents themselves, and secondly, the story of the works and their creators. We see in the second theme that we have been blessed as a people and as a society with artists who have helped us understand the here and now, social and political, with great talent.

Enjoying cartoons is something everyone can do. They are a spark of wit amongst the mountains of information. They are a splash of color in a sea of text. The incisive, light-hearted perspective they give to the Israeli reality, which can sometimes be tough and challenging, allows to see other shades of color in the day-to-day life of the society.

As the president said at the end of his remarks at the opening of the “Crossing the Rubicon” exhibition in 2015: “Through all the chaos, it is important to laugh a little at ourselves, at the impossibility of our situation. Because laughter is also part of how we deal with our reality.”