“Foreskin Man” comic book attacked by Jewish groups for being anti-Semitic

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The movement to ban male circumcision in San Francisco continues to build steam, as organizers have collected the requisite number of signatures for a ballot initiative in November — though if the measure were to pass, it would likely be overturned as unconstitutional on religious-freedom grounds. But now the movement of "intactivists" (that cringey-clever portmanteau word) finds itself facing charges of anti-Semitism, thanks to Matthew Hess, president of the Male Genital Mutilation Bill group, and his Foreskin Man comic books.

Hess wrote and created the first Foreskin Man comic, which came out in the summer of 2010, starring Miles Hastwick, retired corporate scientist and head of the Museum of Genital Integrity. In Hastwick's other life, he is Foreskin Man, a blond, ubermenschy "intactivist" superhero who fights his archenemy, Dr. Mutilator. (Subtle, right?)

In the newly-released second issue of Foreskin Man, our hero must contend with the sinister Monster Mohel, a scissors-wielding, Shylock-on-meth character who wears the traditional Orthodox Jewish wide-brimmed hat, and tallis around his neck. And this is what has Jewish groups understandably upset, despite Hess claiming not to be anti-Semitic, but rather pro-human rights. Nancy J. Appel, Associate Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement Friday:

"The comic book portrays mohels as rapacious, bloodthirsty and bent on harming children. 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.'"

Whether Hess is truly anti-Semitic in his heart or not, at the very least, the portrayal of the mohel is crude and insensitive. He defended himself in an email to the Jewish Journal, writing: "As far as the anti-Semitism, I might understand such an accusation if our proposed legislation applied to everyone except Jews. That would be like saying we care about all boys except the Jewish ones." (Mel Gibson has reportedly optioned the rights to the comic, and expects to release an all-Hebrew film version in the fall of 2013.)