Over the years I’ve lived in Israel, many people — both Americans and Israelis — have asked me how I can possibly feel good about living in a perpetual war zone when I come from a land so notable for its comforts, strategic depth, and general lack of jihadist death cultists in the immediate vicinity.
It’s a good question. The fact is that in Israel, despite the weird lack of canned soup, dearth of decent English-language bookstores, and propensity of some of the neighbors to proclaim their desire for me and my family to leave Earth as soon as possible, I feel happier. Why is that? Because I feel safer here. Denial, you say? Cognitive dissonance? Well, maybe a little. But there’s some logic to it.
There are two main reasons why I feel the way I do. The first is I feel confident that my government and my army understand the reality of the threat we’re up against. The second is I don’t have to fear that I will wake up one morning to discover that my neighbors have turned on me because of my religion.
This brings me to this anti-circumcision business in San Francisco.
As you may have read, a bill to ban circumcision will appear on the city’s November ballot as a result of a petition signed by more than 12,000 residents. If passed, it will become a misdemeanor to circumcise a boy younger than 18, with a maximum penalty of a year in prison and a fine of $1,000. The only exemptions would be medical; no religious exemptions allowed.
Circumcision is performed on male Jews at the age of eight days as a sign of their covenant with God, so there are obvious implications for Jews who happen to procreate in San Francisco. It’s important to note that the bill would have implications not only for them, but for Muslims, who also circumcise their boys.
You might miss that point, however, if you examine some of the materials that are appearing in support of the bill. A group, cleverly titled The Male Genital Mutilation Bill, has put together two comic books. The cast of characters includes Monster Mohel, whose image appears above. He is described on the handy trading cards that accompany the comic books thus: “Nothing excites Monster Mohel more than cutting into the penile flesh of an eight-day-old infant boy.” He is assisted by Yerik:
Yerik is Monster Mohel’s right-hand man and heir apparent. His cunning and depravity make him extremely useful when situations get out of control.
Some have whispered that Yerik is even more dangerous and sadistic than Monster Mohel himself. But Yerik has proven his loyalty time and time again, even though he sometimes gets carried away.
Monster Mohel, Yerik, and their mentally sub-par, sidecurl-sporting, automatic-weapon-toting flunky Jorah are thwarted in their dark plans by — I wish I was kidding — a blond, buff superhero named Foreskin Man, who appears to all a mild-mannered businessman but is in fact a protector of infant boys from evil Jews:
Frustrated by society’s failure to protect its most vulnerable citizens, Foreskin Man has taken up the fight against genital mutilation.
Aided by the power of his technologically advanced plasma boots, Foreskin Man flies above the city to hunt down criminals who cut the genitals of innocent boys.
It is the dawn of a new era. Circumcisers, beware!
Matthew Hess, president of the group lobbying for the passage of the bill, wrote both installments of the comic, which he insists aren’t anti-Semitic. “Brit milah is child abuse in a religious context,” he said in a statement. “Why should an eight-day-old infant boy be forced to give up his foreskin for someone else’s spiritual beliefs? We need laws to protect male children from this painful and scarring blood ritual, and our second Foreskin Man comic book was created to get that point across.”
The Jewish community in San Francisco is being strangely (perhaps not so strangely) quiet about all this. The rabbi of the local Chabad (Lubavitch) house went on record as opposing the bill, but other than that, the tribe — which is comprised, in that part of the country, of primarily secular liberal Democrats — is keeping quiet. The Anti-Defamation League, bless them, came out strongly against the comic books. “Foreskin Man, with its grotesque anti-Semitic imagery and themes, reaches a new low and is disrespectful and deeply offensive,” said Nancy J. Appel, ADL Associate Regional Director, in a statement. “This is an advocacy campaign taken to a new low … It is one thing to debate [the issue], is another thing to degrade it…This is a sensitive, serious issue where good people can disagree. No matter what one’s personal opinions of male circumcision, it is irresponsible to use stereotypical caricatures of religious Jews to promote the anti-circumcision agenda.”
In Israel, we have a lot on our plate, but this is one kind of malarkey we don’t have to deal with. This imagery is straight out of Nazi propaganda, but it came out of California in 2011.