The director of the state broadcasting service (RÚV) has turned down a request that they not air the reading of Hallgrímur Pétursson’s The Hymns of the Passion.
As reported, 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 said the hymns promote negative stereotypes of Jews, adding, “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.”
Páll has responded to the request, wherein he writes:
Dear Mr. Cooper
I have received and contemplated your letter of February 23’d , 2012. While I think that an enlightened discussion of the content and spirit of the Hymns of the Passion is both useful and interesting, I strongly believe that your somewhat harsh interpretation of what you call ,,anti-Semetic references” in the hymns is not justified.
In any case, I ask you to bear in mind that the hymns are written 350 years ago and they describe the poet’s feelings about events that supposedly took place around 2000 years ago. The Hymns of the Passion are a valued and cherished part of Iceland’s cultural history and heritage and the RUV will continue to broadcast them in a suitable and relevant context.
With best regards and respect,