The leading Norwegian daily Dagbladet published a caricature of what appeared to be Jews torturing a baby during a circumcision, and the European Jewish Congress said it may sue it for committing a hate crime.
The caricature that appeared in Tuesday’s newspaper, the country’s third largest in terms of circulation – showed police officers looking on as a bearded man wearing a black hat and black coat sticks a three-tooth pitchfork into the head of a blood-soaked baby while holding a book.
Another unseen person cuts off the baby’s foot with a bolt cutter as a woman in a long-sleeve shirt and a hat shows the officers another blood-spattered book and tells them: “Abuse? No, this tradition is central to our belief.” The police officers apologize “for interrupting.”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s associate dean, Rabbi Abraham Copper, said the cartoon was “so virulently anti-Semitic it would make Hitler and Himmler weep tears of joy.”
Manfred Gerstenfeld, a scholar of anti-Semitism and former chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, said the caricature “cannot be viewed separately from centuries of libels in Christian circles that try to establish a link between the ritual abuse of blood and the Jewish faith.”
But in an email sent to MIFF, a Norwegian pro-Israel organization, Dagbladet cartoon artist 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,” Drefvelin wrote.
He added, “I gave the people in the picture hats, and the man beard, because this gives them a more religious character … 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 mila with cutting off limbs and calling it mutilation. This is a form of lying, propaganda.”
European Jewish Congress president Dr. Moshe Kantor stated, “This cartoon has crossed all lines of decency and is dripping with hate and anti-Semitism. We are now studying the possibility that this legally constitutes incitement to hatred and even a hate-crime and will require legal action if this proves to be the case.
“This obviously falls outside the boundaries of freedom of speech as no one has the freedom to incite hatred against a particular people.
“The reason we have laws against hate is because modern society understands the connection between incitement and violence.
“This is a violent cartoon which is meant to inspire hate and contempt against one particular people. 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.”