The comic strip by Johnny Hart shows several panels in which theseven last words of Jesus Christ appear above a lit seven-branchmenorah. In the next-to-last frame, the words "It is finished" appearabove the menorah's last remaining flame. By the last frame, all sevencandles on the menorah have been extinguished, and the menorah hasbecome a cross.
The groups say the cartoon advocates "Replacement Theology" -- theidea that Christianity has supplanted Judaism.
"This is insensitive and offensive because what it proclaims is thatJudaism is finished and Christianity has taken over," Abraham Foxman,national director of the Anti-Defamation League, told Religion NewsService. "The timing makes it that much more insensitive and offensive."
Hart "has a right to claim what he believes, but not to offend otherpeople's faiths, beliefs and traditions," Foxman said.
"Mr. Hart and anybody else is entitled to advocate their views, butthe newspaper is a public forum," he said. "People read the newspaper toread news and sports and comics and therefore the standards ofsensitivity should be a lot higher."
The American Jewish Committee said the cartoon was shameful.
"Whatever the cartoonist's personal beliefs, the sudden insertion ofreligiously offensive cartoons into the comics section of Sundaynewspapers is highly inappropriate and abuses readers, especially youngchildren, who turn to `B.C.' every week," the group said in a statement."Appearing in newspapers on the last day of Passover and Easter Sundaymakes this form of religious exploitation all the more shameful."
The Jewish Defense League is asking supporters to contact newspapersthat publish the comic strip to "appeal to the editor not to allow thisinsult to be printed" on Sunday (April 15).
"We find nothing funny about Johnny Hart's text and artwork," readsa statement from the group's Web site. "In fact, we find it highlycrude, insulting and an example of outright Jew-hatred."
But Hart, an evangelical Christian, told the Washington Times heonly intended to "pay tribute" to Jews and Christians.
"I sincerely apologize if I have offended any readers, and I alsosincerely hope that this cartoon will generate increased interest inreligious awareness," he said.