Ranan Lurie, Internationally Renowned Israeli Political Cartoonist, Dies at 90
Edited by: Fern Sidman
Ranan Lurie, an Israeli war hero and world peacemaker who set records as the world’s most widely syndicated political cartoonist, died on Wednesday in Las Vegas at the age of 90, according to an NYT report.
Rod Lurie, the cartoonist’s son confirmed his father’s death at an assisted living facility.
During his decades long career, Lurie’s caricatures appeared in about 1,000 publications with more than 100 million readers in 100 countries, setting a benchmark in the Guinness Book of Records in the 1980s, according to the NYT report.
The report indicated that in 2017, Lurie told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, ““Even if it is the most sophisticated camera in the world, it will never be able to capture the person more accurately than the artist or the cartoonist who knows how to point out his true character.”
Besides being a renowned cartoonist and journalist, Lurie was also a senior associate at the CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies) since 1990, a member of the United Nations Correspondents Association, and founder and Editor-in-Chief of Cartoonews, a current events educational magazine.
Born in 1932 in Port Said, Egpyt, Lurie grew up in Tel Aviv, Israel. His father was sixth-generation Jerusalem-born and his mother was a seventh-generation Jerusalemite. His paternal grandfather, Rabbi Isaiah Lurie, was the chief agent there for the Carmel Mizrahi wine company and lived in Egypt.
The NYT reported that according to “The Lurie Legacy: The House of Davidic Royal Descent” (2004), by Neil Rosenstein, the family traces its ancestry to the Prophet Isaiah, the medieval French rabbi Rashi, Felix Mendelssohn and Sigmund Freud. The family had moved to Jerusalem in 1815.
Lurie was a member of the Israeli underground armed organization (“Irgun”) and was wounded in a battle against the British. He later served in the IDF reserves as a Major and company commander.
When he was 16 and recuperating in a hospital from an arm injury inflicted by a grenade during his time with the Irgun, his first of some 12,000 cartoons was published in the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth in 1948.
In 1995, Lurie told the NYT that, “I was always good at drawing, even at age 4. It gave me an overwhelming tool and the appetite to maintain and develop it.”
In July 1954, when Israel and Egypt were still in an official stage of war, Lurie visited the flagship of an Egyptian navy flotilla anchoring in Venice, pretending to be an Australian journalist. It was there that he interviewed the frigate’s high ranking enemy officers and took photographs of their newly installed Soviet Radar. Lurie described this as an infiltration and won an Israeli journalistic award “For Unprecedented Bravery”.
In 1964, the Prime Minister Levi Eshkol unveiled Lurie’s one-man show of oil portraits at the “Sokolov House” in Tel Aviv, in the presence of Joseph Zaritsky, Reuven Rubin and Meiron Sima.
Wikipedia reported that about a week before the Six-Day War began, while in the midst of an exhibit of his work in Montreal, Lurie was recruited to reserve duty in the Israeli army as a Senior Company Commander, a Major in the Fifth Brigade (Giv’aty) that was commanded by Colonel Ze’ev Shaham.
Lurie was the political cartoonist for Yediot Aharonot of Israel (1957–1967) after which he was invited to become political cartoonist and cover artist for LIFE magazine (1968–1972).
The NYT reported that his work at Life led to later stints as a political cartoonist with Le Figaro, Paris Match, The Times of London, Die Welt in Germany, Asahi Shimbun in Japan, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, Time International, The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs and The New York Times.
Lurie, who had fought in two Mideast wars as an Israeli, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 by Glafcos Clerides, the president of the Republic of Cyprus at the time, for, as he said, “creating a great spirit of understanding among the people of many races,” adding that Lurie had “helped in the effort to defuse political and other hot conflicts worldwide, “ as was reported by the NYT.