A letter from the Simon Wiesenthal Institute calls on the Icelandic state broadcasting service (RÚV) to not broadcast Hallgrímur Pétursson’s Hymns of the Passion, due to the frequent disparaging remarks made about Jewish people in the hymns.
Since 1944, one hymn is read each day over the air during Lent. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, in a letter he wrote to RÚV director Páll Magnússon, points that in the hymns, “there are over 50 references to Jews, all of them negative.”
The rabbi continues, saying that “it is inconceivable that such intolerance be expressed anywhere, but even more so over the airwaves of a modern democratic nation. The fact that such anti-Semitic references are read by some of the nation’s most distinguished citizens over the air serves only to reinforce hateful notions about Jews and poison new generations of impressionable young people with onerous stereotypes of Jewish cunning, treachery, and of course, the toxic charge of deicide.”
The rabbi asks that RÚV forgo the reading of the hymns, saying that “the people of Iceland and the Jewish people deserve better.”
Margrét Eggertsdóttir, a professor with the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies, told RÚV that she believes there is no anti-Semitism in the hymns, and that Hallgrímur was “telling the story in his own way.”
The .pdf in the first link of this article contains the references to Jews in the hymns – the reader can decide for themselves whether or not the references are anti-Semitic.