Stephen M. Flatow

Where are the funny pages?

The problem with Israel: we don’t laugh for the right reasons when we read the newspapers. But I have a solution.

Where are all the Diaspora Jews who should be trying to make aliyah? Making a lot of money where they live now is one reason. Add to that our hostile neighbors, non-existent (almost) postal services, bank fees, and a crazy political system which all contribute to our brethren staying where it is financially rewarding and secure from missile and rocket attacks. But the main reason as I see it, and one easy to fix, is the lack of cartoon comics in our daily newspapers.

And what a loss that is for Israelis of every stripe and age. I say this for two reasons. First, cartoon comics can make us laugh out loud. Second, they often teach us what it means to be a mensch.

Take, for instance, Zits. Zits is a comic strip family with a teenage son, Jeremy.  Jeremy has a voracious appetite and sometimes very little patience for his mom, a homemaker, and his father, an orthodontist. They’re middle aged, so they’re easy to poke fun at.

Jeremy has a girlfriend, cute by cartoon standards, and several other friends, the most noticeable being Jeremy’s friend Pierce. Why the name Pierce? It may be he’s just living up to his collection of body piercings; but he is an angel, an excellent student unlike Jeremy, the procrastinator, and is certainly not a wisenheimer.

Parents with teens now or who had teens at one time in their home will quickly identify with Jeremy’s parents and realize they are not alone dealing with their son or daughter.

Wikimedia Commons

Second, comics give our children the incentive to read. If I close my eyes, I can see myself at 7 years of age every afternoon after school stretched out on the floor of our apartment in Middle Village reading the Long Island Press. Until it was pulled from my newspaper in New Jersey a month ago, I read “Prince Valiant in the Days of King Arthur” for almost 70 years.

The Prince is dapper in his kilt, and he sports a pageboy haircut. Ok, not the most fashionable for men these days, but in the time of King Arthur, the height of style. But he must have done something right because Valiant has been the subject of several motion pictures. His “singing sword” dispatched ma a nybad guy since he first appeared in the comics in 1937. Married to the beautiful Aleta, Queen of the Misty Isles, Valiant taught me about chivalry and honor and the names of faraway places, real and imagined. Can our children ever have enough of that?

So, c’mon Times of Israel, c’mon Jerusalem Post, get with the program and print some comics. We could all use a laugh and maybe we and our children can learn something from them.

Problem solved.

About the Author
Stephen M. Flatow is president of the Religious Zionists of America- Mizrachi (not affiliated with any Israeli or American political party) and the father of Alisa Flatow who was murdered by Iranian sponsored Palestinian terrorists in April 1995. He is the author of "A Father's Story: My Fight For Justice Against Iranian Terror."
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