McJesus causes Israel violence

McJesus causes Israel violence


norman lebrecht

January 17, 2019

The Haifa Museum of Art is attracting international attention for showing McJesus, a sculpture of a crucified Ronald McDonald by the Finnish artist Jani Leinonen.

Someone firebombed the museum at the weekend and local Christians have staged peaceful protests.

The Israeli culture minister has threatened to kill the museum’s state subsidy.

And the artist himself has asked for the object to be taken down as he supports the BDS boycott Israel group.

If you can’t please all the people all of the time, you might as well annoy them.


Read on here.

Jani Leinonen, McJesus (2015). Photo by Vilhelm Sjöström, courtesy of the artist and Zetterberg Gallery.


  • Karl says:

    What would Jesus do? I think he would just switch to Burger King. Peaceful protest is best.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Was Jesus not vegan?

      • Jean says:

        I think he ate the Passover lamb (like all Jews)

      • Alex Davies says:

        Why would Jesus have been vegan? Were a lot of first-century Jews vegan?

        • norman lebrecht says:

          Apparently, yes. Although they had a lot of dairy in their diet, so not strict vegans

          • steven holloway says:

            Some vegetarians, very few vegans. Viz Jewish Bible for earliest references and (scholarly) works on 1st. Century Jews.

          • MusicBear88 says:

            Jesus is portrayed cooking fish on a fire (John 21:9) for his disciples, but as this was after his death, the dietary implications are rather different.

          • John Borstlap says:

            There is no evidende that JC really existed, all information has been produced by the early Christians, who were not impartial witnesses, and stories were written down ca. 70 years after the presumed events of JC’s life. It is a beautiful myth, a collection of stories with meaning, as so many religious founding myths, so any discussion about diet habits are entirely nonsensical.

          • Andrew says:

            Ignorant comment. Some of the NT writings are much earlier, written within living memory of those present, and predate the destruction of the Temple in AD 70. As for “all information has been produced by the early Christians”, what about Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, Josephus, the author of the Babylonian Talmud, etc. Not known for being devout Christian folk….

          • MidWest Maestro says:

            And the writings of Titus Flavius Josephus?

          • John Borstlap says:

            Flavius Josephus was born after the supposed death of Jesus, and had his stories from hearsay from the early Christians. It would be different if we had some report from officials from the very time of Jesus’ life, or some stories which don’t come from the Christians themselves. That is the problem with the reality of the case. But I don’t think it is of any serious relevance, it is about the meaning of the myth not the literal historic reality.

          • Harrumph says:

            Debunked as a forgery over and over again.


          • Sue Sonata Form says:

            But the real point is the Jesus DID exist; the controversy (there being any) is whether he was the Son of God and worthy of worship. The Jews don’t think so.

          • John Borstlap says:

            It is rather absurd to quarrel about someone about whom there is no real evidence that he existed, whether he was or was not the son of a god, since there is also no direct evidence of the existence of gods – at least, in the sense as described by what many people call ‘holy books’.

          • Harrumph says:

            No, there is no historicity for this person. He exists only in your imagination.

          • Saxon Broken says:

            Er…please don’t display your ignorance. There is more evidence for the historical figure of Jesus than for many Roman emperors, whom nobody doubts existed.

            The earliest Christian documents that have come down to use were written only some 25-30 years after the death of Jesus. Some of these documents are (probably) written by people who new Jesus. And we also have documents reporting Jesus and his followers by Romans and other contemporaries (e.g. non-Christian). One of the most important is Josephus.

          • Harrumph says:

            No, there is not, and the Josephus nonsense is a forgery. It’s you who is flaunting ignorance and it’s obvious you haven’t read anything. You true believers are comical.

          • Sue Sonata Form says:

            Does that also apply to Democrat voters?

          • John Borstlap says:

            Before throwing terms of ‘ignorance’ around, it is to be recommended to read carefully; it is the time lag which makes the difference. And as for the Roman emperors: there is much evidence from their own time and from the effects of their rule. The process of historiography is the comparison and evaluation of sources and establishing the degree of probability of things, and in the case of JC the historical evidence is very slim.

          • Sue Sonata Form says:

            I thought it was just loaves and fishes. He invited a few thousand of his friends to a picnic.

      • Viola da Bracchio says:

        loaves and fishes don’t feature at my local vegan eaterie, Norman 🙂

      • Saxon Broken says:

        I am sorry Norman, but the historical Jesus is very unlikely to have been vegan. It would have been fairly unusual among Jews of the time, even amongst a group of religious ascetic Jews wandering about in the countryside.

        Although Jesus, as a practising Jew, would have observed the Talmud, a central feature of his message was that belief is more important than strict outward observance of the dietary (and other) rules. Hence he and his followers would have been unlikely to have had additional dietary requirements over other Jews.

        Moreover, it is the kind of thing that would have been mentioned by contemporaries if he (or his followers) had been vegan. Other ascetic Jews who were vegetarian or vegan are in the historical record.

  • Symphony musician says:

    I think this is a genuinely important piece of modern art, which is startling, courageous and thought-provoking in equal measure.

    • Doug says:

      Opinion of a genuinely brainwashed leftist sheep.

      • steven holloway says:

        Ah, another dollop of Dougish ad hominem politicism. However, it does give me pause to mull what a counterfeit brainwashed leftish sheep might be like.

        • Sue Sonata Form says:

          If you’re inside the tent yourself you’re never going to know!! Just keep goose-stepping with your tribe.

          • Mr. Knowitall says:

            Is this sort of anti-semitic tripe necessary? “Goose-stepping”? “Your tribe”? For an exhibition in Israel? Differences of political opinion are one thing. But this is just hate and resentment.

          • Anmarie says:

            Evidently, you are not familiar with Sue.

          • Sue Sonata Form says:

            I love your work too.

          • Sue Sonata Form says:

            You’d have to know all about it to identify it. This, too, from the Left; that group who’ll resort to reputational destruction for dissenters. And that’s the lightest possible sanction.

      • Viola da Bracchio says:

        I love the way you write your posts, Doug. You start by writing the word ‘leftist’, and then you scatter a few juicy adjectives in until you feel your opus is complete.

    • Jon Eiche says:

      I’m genuinely curious: What thoughts does it provoke for you? (Or are you being facetious? Tone is so hard to catch in print.)

    • Ms.Melody says:

      This “Piece of art” is sacrilegious, tasteless and deeply offensive and should have never been shown in Israel of all places. The only feeling it can provoke is shock and disgust, as for the thought-bewilderment comes to mind.

      • John Borstlap says:

        Indeed, and also it has not the slightest aesthetic value, it does contribute nothing to the world apart from spite.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        Personally I don’t find it “sacrilegious, tasteless and deeply offensive”. I find it rather tedious, thoughtless and banal. I am not “shocked or disgusted or bewildered”. I am just bored.

      • Harrumph says:

        “Sacrilegious” is a nonsensical term. Not everybody shares your make-believe in an invisible bipolar sky-daddy and associated fairy tales. Nobody cares that you’re “offended”. “I’m offended” is not an argument for anything, so that’s all on you.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Would you say the same about a similar depiction of the Islamic god? Honesty please. Charlie Hebdo did no less and its staff died for it. We’ll understand if it’s fear that stops you answering my question.

  • Doug says:

    Here’s an idea: a joint exhibition with McJesus, Piss Christ, Elephant Dung Mary and banned Mohammad cartoons. Yeah, I know, it’s that last one that makes your typical leftist sheep nervous.

    • steven holloway says:

      And here you are again with another one!! Rather like Trump’s tweets, you know.

    • Don Fatale says:

      Thumbs up Doug, for what its worth, in our leftist moral equivalence arts world.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        Yes, I’d have to agree with that. And Trump gets it too; he’s able to send them bat-crazy every time! And that’s always worthy of many laughs.

        I loved the one about Elizabeth Warren being a ‘native American’. Couldn’t stop thinking about Betty Hutton’s 1950s spoof “I’m an Indian Too”, from “Annie Get Your Gun”. Whoah; two UNFASHIONABLE ideas right there – and from a Jew!!! Is there no end to the torment???

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        A belief in everything is a belief in nothing. Even Pollyanna knew that.

  • Dennis says:

    Of course such blasphemy would never be allowed if the object were the world’s most PC-protected “religion-of-peace” (TM), Islam. Think any museum would display a McMohammed, or a “Piss Mohamed”?

  • Ceasar says:

    Needs Jesus crucified on the golden arch

  • V.Lind says:

    I fins it distasteful, and do wonder what other religious groups would cause such muted fuss over an assault on its most sacred symbolism. It doesn’t provoke me to much aesthetic rumination: I am not aware of such a fundamental attack on McDonald’s — though we live in hope.

  • Edgar says:

    This Jesus is quite harmless in my opinion. There have been other, vastly more irritating/annoying crucifixions. I only mention Alfred Hrdlicka’s drawing “Theologischer Disput”, which shows three crucified men, the middle one recalling the classical Jesus iconography, nailed to the wood at their hands, while swinging their legs at and kicking each other with their feet. It caused a rousing commotion, which also meant at the time how the artist succeeded in placing his finger into the open wound (pun intended). The same artist also did a sculpture titled “The Death of Pier Paolo Pasolini”, in which Pasolini is portrayed as the thorn-crowned Jesus: teh swork shows the crushed body pressed into the mud, just as Pasolini was killed by being driven over several times by the care in which he had met his last lover. Needless to say there were copious amounts of indignant upheaval, too. Both Pasolini and Hridlicka mercilessly exposed duplicity and hypocrisy of organized religion, in this case especially Roman Catholicism.

    Ronald McDonald’s founding and funding of teh Ronald McDonald Houses is certainly an act of compassion Jesus would have very much liked.

    Another notion which I think is left out of consideration (unwittingly, perhaps?) is the Orthodox view of Christ as “holy Fool”, or, more precisely, of being a “Fool for Christ” – a venerable spiritual tradition within this form of Christianity. But maybe I interpret too much here.

  • MacroV says:

    I’m curious just who this is supposed to offend:

    – Jews? – Jesus was a Jew, but not a prophet or otherwise significant figure. So it’s not a show of disrespect toward their guy.” And the cross was a Roman device; used against Jews but against others, too; no particular cultural/religious significance to Jews that I’m aware of.

    – Christians? – Yes, probably.

    – Muslims? – Not their issue. Though they recognize Jesus as a prophet.

    – McDonalds? – Probably not meant as a compliment. Though they’re probably better off letting others be offended on their behalf.

  • Mark Pemberton says:

    It’s not even original. Jake and Dinos Chapman did this a few years ago. See

  • Don Fatale says:

    Bottom line… it’s crass. As an athiest I’m not particularly offended, nor as a lover of art. If the ‘artist’ did a similar thing for mohammed then perhaps a discussion might be possible.

  • Mick the Knife says:

    Why is this even appearing here? A colleague once said

  • Usually, when I encounter this story, it’s Santa Claus on a cross in Japan.

  • I wonder if the exhibit as a whole is related to larger concerns in Israel about remaining a secular society, at least as the basis for its government and laws. Hence the museum’s firm stand in support of iconoclasm. Courageous to send up religion in Israel, though perhaps a poor and reckless strategy.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Any art which merely wants to upset believers is nonsensical and entirely unnecessary. And most of the time it isn’t art at all, as this affair clearly shows.

  • anon says:

    Execution by crucifixion predates Christianity, and Jesus was neither the first, nor the only, nor the last person to be so executed by the Roman state, so I don’t see how killing Ronald McDonald on a cross is an affront to Christianity.

    On the contrary, I fear for the safety of Ronald’s friends.

    What next, they crucify the beloved Colonel Sanders? the wholesome redhead Wendy? the irresistible Chuck E. Cheese?

    Stop the madness now before it gets out of hand, before they storm White Castles.

  • Dave T says:

    This artist would like to destroy the one country in the entire region, a thousand miles in either direction– and make no mistake, that is the aim of the BDS movement– that would actually exhibit his artistic expression. And, I may add, air and debate his political one, too.

    What a shameless, ungrateful, and self-destructive bigot.

  • Una says:

    Here we go again, ridiculing Christianity. If it had been Judaism or Islam, or playing Wagner in Israel, all hell would have been let lose, but they can just seem to do what they like with what is sacred in Christianity. Hey, ho. But we get used to it.

  • Sharon says:

    To me the message is the commercialization of Christianity or perhaps that Christianity is a joke. However there are other ways to make the point. The offending image overwhelms the message.

    In Israel which many of its residents consider to be the seat of all three Abrahamic religions such an exhibit would be offensive and the politics would certainly overwhelm the message. Because of fanatics, it also endangers the artist even if he is in Europe as well as anybody else connected in any way to the exhibit.

    Furthermore, any museum or other institution that receives government funds needs to be especially careful because it is assumed that whatever they do has government approval (this is why Israel had to threaten to remove their funds) and might cause protests against the government.

    Maybe the museum officials believed that they could increase attendance because of the shock value of the exhibit but this is not worth it.

    I once read that any art exhibit or performance apart from classical music concerts could lead to protest and controversy if it is government funded, at least in the United States. Isn’t it nice to know that most classical music is universally considered an instrument of peace among the arts?

  • James says:

    From my understanding, a compromise was reached, in that the exhibit was not immediately taken down, but the museum of its own accord curtailed the exhibition, so that didn’t have quite its planned full run. Some are hailing this as a victory for common sense, protection of artistic freedoms, while respecting religious sensibilities.