The latest proof of what the U.S. State Department has rightly termed a “rising tide of anti-Semitism” in Europe comes from Norway where a major daily newspaper printed a blatantly anti-Semitic cartoon about circumcision. The cartoon, which depicts Orthodox Jews torturing and mutilating an infant while blood spatters everywhere in the panel, has provoked outrage around the world. But the editors of the Dagbladet are unrepentant.
The image not only seeks to delegitimize a traditional and safe Jewish religious ritual, but also adds to the troubling demonization of Jews at a time when Islamists and European Jew-haters have stepped up their attack. But rather than apologizing, the Dagbladet is doubling down on its slander. They are now claiming protests against a cartoon that was highly reminiscent of the Nazis’ anti-Semitic propaganda are no different than Muslim protests against the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad published by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. This false analogy tells us all we need to know about European elites that are clueless about the difference between the haters and their victims.
Let’s first understand the differences between the Muhammad cartoons and the Dagbladet attack on circumcision.
The Muhammad cartoons were not part of a general campaign against Islam but rather a specific pushback by one publication against the efforts by Muslims to prohibit any reporting or discussion about terrorism motivated by Islam. Islamists around the globe have sought not merely to silence those who pointed out that the actions of Muslim terrorists stem from their religious beliefs but to brand any discussion of their faith or culture that is not laudatory as blasphemy that must be banned by law. The Muhammad cartoons were an attempt to answer a campaign against free speech with humor.
By contrast, the Dagbladet circumcision cartoon was part of a specific campaign aimed at banning a religious practice of both Jews and Muslims. The goal there was not, as with Jyllands-Posten, to defend free speech but to demonize Judaism and Jews in a manner highly reminiscent of the Nazis.
The reactions to the two cartoons are also very different.
The response to the Jyllands-Posten cartoons was a wave of riots and murders of non-Muslims across the Middle East and an intensified campaign of intimidation in Europe aimed at silencing those who criticize Islamist terror and its religious inspiration. Some of the cartoonists and editors involved are still in hiding in fear for their lives.
By contrast, the protests about the Norwegian cartoon, or, indeed any of those against the wave of anti-Semitism around the globe have resulted in nothing more than a few stern letters to the editor. The Dagbladet’s cartoonist isn’t in hiding and if no other newspaper will run it—except as an example of anti-Semitism—it isn’t because they fear Jews will kill them for doing so. While Muslims claim that the world is suffering from Islamophobia, what has really happened in the last few years is a process by which those who wish to criticize Islamists have been intimidated and which has also given anti-Semites impunity to demonize Jews.