Now stop imagining...that plot belongs to the movie "Jud Suss", a Nazi propaganda film of 1940. The imagery of that film includes a dark, bearded, Oppenheimer. The look is calculated to make sure that anybody watching the movie will be repulsed by Oppenheimer while being sympathetic to the poor Aryan maiden victimized by him.
Now fast forward to 2011. Imagine a comic book, in which a Superheroe fights a dark villanous Rabbi called "Monster Mohel" to protect the rights of a poor innocent baby who is about to be forcibly submitted to genital mutilation.
Now stop imagining...the comic book, called "The Foreskin Man" is published by Matthew Hess, the organizer of the "anti - Male Genital Mutilation group" who also managed to put on the ballot for November in the city of San Francisco, California, US of A, an ordinance making it illegal to perform circumcision in anybody under 18 years of age.
Matthew Hess and his group insist that their position falls under the provisions of protected speech, but one has to wonder how freedom of speech managed to trump freedom of religion, and how a municipality can put on their ballot an ordinance that clearly runs counter to State law. Now let's get real...it is extremely unlikely that such piece of bigoted municipal legislation will pass, and even if it does it would be impugnated by virtue of being illegal under the laws of California. So why all the balagan?
A few years back, in Florida, a different group tried to put on the ballot a law making Kosher slaughtering illegal under the pretext of "protecting animal rights", and Jews were left with the burden of proof to demonstrate that actually Kosher slaughtering is more Humane than the regular industrial slaughtering.
Also a few years back, a postal worker in Los Angeles was fired from his job for wearing a kipah (yarmulke) that was considered to be "against regulations"
These issues continue to come up in different parts of the world, even in America where individual Freedoms are sacrosant and where separation of Church and State is one of the foundations of religious Tolerance. Why?
In this day and age, to oppose Jewish practices on a religious basis or openly attacking Jews is not "politically correct" and frankly it would be seen as unacceptable by most Americans. So Jew-haters are finding a way around by clothing their wolf in sheep's clothing. It is not, they say, against the Jews, but in favor of Human rights...it is not about banning circumcision as a religious practice, they insist these days, but about protecting the rights of the baby who cannot defend himself.
Anti Semitism is alive and well today, even in America. Even many Jews accept the limitations as a way of avoiding confrontation with non Jews, and some Jews even pick up the banners raised by Jew-haters in an attempt to make sure they, personally, are not confused by others with the "bad Jews".
Growing up in Argentina, I was used to live both inside and outside the Jewish community and rarely gave it any thought. Every now and then, however, I would be confronted by reality. I remember one situation in which I was studying with a group in the College cafeteria and one of my classmates initiated a tirade against Jews. When he stopped to breath, I interjected: "you know what? you are right! and you know what else?- I'm a Jew". His reaction was telling me "I didn't mean you - I meant the bad Jews". Of course I picked up my books and moved to another table...and to my delighted surprise so did practically everybody else around the table...
Anti Semites are a minority, but they exist. And under the current rules of social activism, they can find ways to present their hatred disguised as progressive action. It is not just about anti Semitism either, but about anything that would be socially unacceptable if presented in a straightforward manner. Creationism is now thaught in some States as an "alternative theory of origins". They could not replace scientific teachings, so they clothed themselves in science and came back.
As a people we need to have a hard look at who we are. When we start paying more attention to form than to content we make room for people like Matthew Hess and his anti--Male Genital Mutilation group. Content should be more important than forms. If a duck barks, it is still a duck; appearances are only a thin veneer covering the real subject. Matthew Hess targeted Jews; he is not "protecting babies" - otherwise he had no need to publish "The Foreskin Man", where the superheroe ironically is clearly modelled after Kal-El (Superman).
While it is important to keep in mind that the legislation proposed in San Francisco is absurd and it is practically impossible that it will pass, not speaking up conveys the message that what they are doing is "OK" and "protected under the law". To close this blog, I can only remind people of the famous poem engraved over the entrance to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC and written by Martin Niemoller that starts with the words: "They first came for the communists..."
And also to remind us all of the way it ends "...They now came for me, but there is nobody to speak up for me"