It is the first time Ya'akov Kirschen has seen America since he left it for Israel in 1971, and he is depressed.

"Nobody smokes," says this chainsmoker. "Everybody is running around in their underpants. The cab drivers don't speak English.

And the American Jews are committing suicide: This is the message that The Jerusalem Post's star political cartoonist is bringing.

"Every place I go, people expect a chalk talk and jokes. They become very upset very quickly when they hear what I have to say. I'm on a seditious mission.

Perching on the edge of a chair at the Israel Aliyah Center here and running a hand through his electrified hair, he gives off sparks. His plane was late from Philadelphia and in two minutes he is due to speak to students at George Washington University. The thunderhead has had all morning to charge up.

"In one generation, American Jews have collapsed. They're trying so hard to pass in white America that they find the Israelis rude, pushy and noisy-exactly the same things that WASPs always said about them."

To feel more secure, he says American Jews started playing big brother to various minorities. They dominated the staff of black movements (charging anti-Semitism when finally ejected) and then backed one weak group after another.

"And now it's Save Soviet Jewry. Every temple in the country has the sign out on its lawn. You don't see those signs in Israel. In fact, the sign we should have is Save American Jewry."

With a death rate larger than its birth rate, with a 50 percent intermarriage rate, with the attitude that "Jew" is a shameful word and even "Jewish" not much better, 6 million American

"I'm here to tell them to come home," Kirschen adds. "I know. It's confusing. Israel isn't Judaism as they know it. There are no bagels or cream cheese or lox or pastrami. There are only two Jewish delis in all Jerusalem. Most of the people look like Puerto Icans, they're Middle Eastern, and American Jews have been trying to pass for so long that they're uncomfortable.

The money isn't so hot, either. Seventeen years ago the Brooklyn-born Kirschen was getting $300 for every drawing he sold as a freelancer to Playboy or other magazines. Now he gets about $10, "and 6 of those go to the government in taxes."

You have to know languages, too. "My Hebrew is hilarious. To them it sounds like, 'You like-a you job? Real immigrant accent. You go into a room and two people are talking English and two others Hebrew and two others Serbo-Croatian. I go to a shoemaker in Jerusalem. He speaks four languages as a matter of course. In America he'd be a professor."

It was easier for his three children. When some kids threw rocks at the family a few months after their arrival in Jerusalem, Kirschen's 5-year-old son yelled at them in Hebrew street language.

"What did you say?" Kirschen asked. A shrugg. "I said what you say when people throw rocks at you."

Now 41, known in four continents and seven languages for his wise, sharp, irreverent and sometimes down-right disrespectful political cartoons, Kirschen is touring America for Aliyah (it means "to go up," for Jews always speak of going up into Israel) and pushing his own work a little on the side.

His book is called "Dry Bones." The title is from Ezekiel, a prophet who has profoundly influenced the atheist. ". . . Then He said unto me, 'Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, our bones are dried up and our hope is lost . . .' O my people, I will open your graves . . . and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land . . ."

A typical talking-head cartoon from the era of Prime Minister Ranin:

A Jew is listening to someone read from The Jerusalem Post: "As Mrs. Rabin stepped from the limousine, Kissinger kissed her on the cheek," says the voice. The Jew sips his coffee. Sip. He stares out of the frame. "Sadat he kisses on the lips," he mutters.

When Kirschen's heads talk, their mouths turn sideways like Picassos. In the tradition of Boston's great Francis Dahl, the next to last panel is silent, a beat before the punchline. "Looks like the Russians get to host the 1980 Olympics," remarks one head. "They'll really be able to relax and enjoy the games." Pause. "No worries about defections."

Kirschen hopes to syndicate to non-political strip in America. It is "Adam An'" featuring Adam, Eve the Snake and God: "It fits the universal pattern, from 'Blondie' to 'The Gumps'," he says. "And you don't have to introduce the characters."

Bringing the word to a handful of GW students, he got the hostile, and then defensive, reactions he expected. There didn't seem to be much to say to one-liners like these:

"Someone asked me, 'What are Nazis doing in Skokie?' I said, 'What are Jews doing in Skokie?'"

"You're not Americans-you're Jews in the last stage of throwing off your identity."

"Going to Israel, you won't be tearing up your roots because this isn't where your roots are. You'll be coming home."

"You are here and alive and Jewish today because all your ancestors for thousands of years made the right decisions. They knew when to get out. They knew they were on a trip through Jewish history which is still going on."

The first six months in Israel are the hardest, Kirschen says, especially for a single young person whose family keeps writing from America, "Baby come home, we'll give you a car," or, "But it's so dangerous over there with the bombs," or other smothering blandishments.

"They want you to come back and be WASPs with them and lie down and die with them."

Kirschen came to Jerusalem during Hannukah. In America, he reflects, it's called the Jewish Christmas and you light the Menorah, a little brass rack of nine candles that you keep on the table. In Jerusalem, the Menorah was nine giant iron cauldrons, as tall as a man, set on top of the Wall and filled with gasoline.

When they were touched off, they lighted the whole sky. CAPTION: Picture, Ya'akov Kirschen, left, by Harry Naltchayan-The Washington Post