Foreskin man takes on Monster Mohel in comic book
The campaigners seeking a San Francisco-wide ban on the circumcision of males under the age of 18 have employed the services of a new superhero – Foreskin Man.
Matthew Hess, president of the Male Genital Mutilation Bill group, which wants the US government to make circumcision punishable by jail time, has written two issues of the comic book.
Mr Hess is one of the activists backing the proposal in San Francisco, which has now achieved enough signatures to appear on a ballot for a public vote in November. A similar plan is underway in San Diego.
The measure would make it a "misdemeanour to circumcise, excise, cut or mutilate the foreskin, testicle or penis of another person who has not attained the age of 18."
The campaigners have compiled testimony from doctors, patients and event rabbis in their crusade, but the comic books take a different tactic.
The stories include characters with names like Monster Mohel and Dr Mutilator and show graphic scenes of terrified babies and brutal doctors covered in blood. The pro-circumcision characters, who are described as monsters by Foreskin Man, are depicted with peyot (sidelocks) and a tallit.
A woman is shown saying she wishes she could do more "to protect these innocent boys". Then, later, a "peaceful and content" baby is shown rescued from the clutches of a grotesque doctor.
The strength of the "pro-circumcision lobby" of "well-connected doctors and lawyers" is also discussed.
Mr Hess said the comic book was not intended to be antisemitic.
"It takes an unflinching look at the practice of circumcising children, as well as those who perform it," he said. "The characters are drawn accordingly to convey that message."
The Anti-Defamation League criticised the comic for its “grotesque antisemitic imagery and themes”.
Nancy Appel, ADL associate regional director, said: “This is an advocacy campaign taken to a new low.
"It is one thing to debate it, is another thing to degrade it. This reaches a new low and is disrespectful and deeply offensive."
She added: "Some of the imagery calls to mind age-old antisemitic canards such as the blood libel, the accusation that Jews ritually murder Christian children.
"We would have hoped those backing the anti-circumcision effort in San Francisco would know better than to use this type antisemitic imagery to advance their cause."