Jewish groups on Wednesday sharply condemned Norway’s third-largest paper, Dagbladet, for publishing a cartoon that one group said was “so virulently anti-Semitic it would make Hitler and Himmler weep tears of joy.”
In the cartoon, printed by the paper on Tuesday and meant to oppose the Jewish ritual of circumcising baby boys, the mother of a Jewish child is seen holding a blood-soaked Torah while saying, “Mistreating? No this is tradition, an important part of our belief!”
At the other end of the child, who’s sprawled on the table, a Jewish man — either the boy’s father or a rabbi — is in the midst of stabbing the boy in the forehead with a three-pronged devil’s pitchfork while cutting off his toes.
A policeman who comes through the door responds to the mother by saying “Belief? Oh yes, then it is all right,” and the second officer apologizes for the interruption.
A statement by the Wiesenthal Center denounced “the blood libel cartoon published in Dagbladet.”
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who is currently attending the Global Forum on anti-Semitism in Jerusalem, demanded that the Norwegian government condemn the cartoon.
“We call upon Norway’s leaders to denounce this incitement to hate and especially urge the ombudsman for children’s rights to denounce this outrageous denigration of a core Jewish rite dating back to the biblical times of Abraham,” Cooper said.
In an email sent to MIFF, a Norwegian pro-Israel organization, the cartoonist, Tomas Drefvelin, said he did not mean to draw Jews in his caricature, which he meant “not as criticism of either a specific religion or a nation [but] as a general criticism of religions.”
“I gave the people in the picture hats, and the man a beard, because this gives them a more religious character,” he added. “Jew-hatred is reprehensible. I would never draw to create hatred of a people, or against individuals.”
Ervin Kohn, the president of Norway’s Jewish community, told JTA that in Norway, “it is not uncommon to compare brit milah with cutting off limbs and calling it mutilation. This is a form of lying, propaganda.”
The European Jewish Congress said it was “carefully considering” the option of legal action over the cartoon.
“This cartoon has crossed all lines of decency and is dripping with hate and anti-Semitism,” said Dr. Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, in a statement. “We are now studying the possibility that this legally constitutes incitement and even a hate-crime and will therefore require legal action.”
Kantor warned that the cartoon, “meant to inspire hate and contempt against one particular people,” could incite violence against Jews.
“This type of hate, reminiscent of Nazi propaganda, cannot be left unanswered, and it is exactly this type of incitement which is contributing to a very troubling period for minorities in Europe at this time, especially with the rise of the far-Right,” he said.
The past year has seen a sharp uptick in anti-circumcision activity in Europe.
In March, 38 physicians from the continent wrote a paper alleging that “cultural bias” was behind the pro-circumcision stance of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Approximately half of the physicians were from Scandinavian countries, where several political parties have stated their view of circumcision as a form of “child abuse.”
Last year, a local German court criminalized the rite and started a nationwide and international controversy about religious ceremonies versus children’s rights. Three months later the German government approved a bill that legalized ritual circumcisions, if performed by a medical professional.
Raphael Ahren and JTA contributed to this report.