Easter `B.C.' Sparks Controversy among Jews

By Price, Joyce Howard | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 12, 2001 | Go to article overview

Easter `B.C.' Sparks Controversy among Jews


Price, Joyce Howard, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


A Jewish opinion writer has taken issue with the Jewish Anti-Defamation League for claiming that the Easter edition of the "B.C." comic strip by Johnny Hart, scheduled to run in hundreds of newspapers Sunday, is anti-Jewish.

"Johnny Hart, a believing Christian whom the Guinness Book of World Records recognizes as the most syndicated cartoonist alive, is being crucified by no doubt well-meaning, but thoroughly clueless, comic-strip aficionados for - Heaven help us! - an Easter-themed cartoon that actually focuses on the spirituality of Easter and ignores chocolate eggs and big purple bunnies," Binyamin L. Jolkovsky, editor in chief and publisher of JewishWorldReview.com, wrote in an opinion piece expected to be published this weekend in many newspapers that carry "B.C."

"As a Sabbath-observant Jew, rabbinical school alumnus and publisher of the most-accessed Jewish Web site, I see absolutely nothing wrong with Hart's message," he added.

In a telephone interview yesterday from his New York office, Mr. Jolkovsky said he finds it strange that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which is recognized as the world's leading organization in fighting anti-Semitism, "is now going after comic strips that are not anti-Semitic."

The ADL is protesting Mr. Hart's Easter strip, which it says portrays Christianity as having replaced Judaism.

"We're concerned. We think this borders on the offensive, because Johnny Hart is saying in this comic strip that Christianity now supersedes Judaism," Abraham Foxman, president of the New York-based ADL, said in a telephone interview yesterday.

But Mr. Hart, an evangelical Christian who sometimes uses the "B.C." cartoon to make religious statements, denies such assertions. "The God of Judaism and the God of Christianity is the same, and the people of Israel are his chosen people, and Jesus is one of them," he said in a statement yesterday.

"This is a holy week for both Christians and Jews, and my intent was to pay tribute to both. I sincerely apologize if I have offended any readers, and I also sincerely hope that this cartoon will generate increased interest in religious awareness," said Mr. Hart, who declined to comment beyond the official statement.

Mr. Jolkovsky thinks Mr. Hart has no need to apologize.

The strip causing the uproar features a lit seven-branch menorah in each frame, accompanied by the seven last words of Jesus Christ on the cross. As each of Jesus' final words is printed, a flame on the menorah - a candelabra used in Jewish religious services - is extinguished.

"As the candles burn, the menorah, a sacred and venerated symbol of the Jewish people, is obliterated and turns into a cross, the symbol of Christianity," Irv Rubin, chairman of the militant Jewish Defense League (JDL), which is also disturbed by the strip, said at the JDL Web site.

The ADL and the JDL both contend that the Easter "B.C." strip is promoting replacement theology, or the theory that Christianity has replaced Judaism as the "chosen" religion. …

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