(JTA) — A cartoon called "Foreskin Man" has gained notoriety after an anti-male circumcision proposition was brought to San Francisco’s November ballot.
The cartoon, created by Matthew Hess, president of the MGMbill.org group against what it calls male genital mutilation, features the handsome young Foreskin Man doing battle with Monster Mohel, an old, hook-nosed character, over a baby laid out on a blanket on a pool table in a billiards hall.
The comic has been around for at least a year. A "Foreskin Man" card set also is being sold on the Internet.
"This is an advocacy campaign taken to a new low," said Nancy Appel, the associate regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, in a statement. "This is a sensitive, serious issue where good people can disagree and which the Jewish community feels is an assault on its values and traditions going back thousands of years and centered in the Hebrew Bible.
"It is one thing to debate it. It is another thing to degrade it. Foreskin Man, with its grotesque anti-Semitic imagery and themes, reaches a new low and is disrespectful and deeply offensive."
Appel says the comic book portrays mohels "as rapacious, bloodthirsty and bent on harming children" and that some of the imagery calls to mind age-old anti-Semitic canards such as the blood libel, the accusation that Jews ritually murder Christian children.
"Another comic in the series also calls up more subtle anti-Jewish themes, such as when a character complains that the ‘pro-circumcision lobby’ has ‘all of the well-connected doctors and lawyers,’ " she says.
An anti-circumcision measure was approved last month for the November ballot by San Francisco city officials after they received a petition with the required number of signatures.
The measure makes it a misdemeanor crime to circumcise a boy in San Francisco before he is 18 years old. The maximum penalty would be a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Circumcisions would be permitted only for medical reasons, with no religious exemptions.
Activists in Santa Monica are circulating petitions to put the identical measure on the Southern California city’s ballot in November.
Jews circumcise their sons when they are eight days old. Muslim boys are circumcised sometime before puberty.