Published March 22, 2018
The Anti-Defamation League, or ADL, known as the most powerful Jewish human rights organisation in the US, has recently vouched to turn the world’s attention to the subject of growing extremism in Iceland if the circumcision ban is approved in Parliament, Vísir reports.
Like many before him, CEO of ADL Jonathan A. Greenblatt has criticised the bill on the basis of religious freedom and the medical benefits of circumcision. However, he also added that if the bill becomes law, it would have a disruptive effect on the reputation and economy of the country.
“Should Iceland ban male circumcision, making it impossible for Jews and Muslims to raise families in your country, we guarantee that Iceland will be celebrated by neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other extremists,” Greenblatt wrote in a letter to the Icelandic Parliament, adding that even though it can be acknowledged that hatred against Jews was not necessarily a force behind this bill, it will nonetheless have great impact on the most prejudiced groups. “They will celebrate the ban as the flrst legislation in Europe since World War II towards making a country Judenrein, free of Jews,” Greenblatt added.
But his comments don’t stop there. Greenblatt, who has followed attentively and reported on the development of antisemitism and neo-Nazi groups on social media, stated that Icelanders need to be careful when it comes to the ban and the consequential extremists’ praise of Iceland. Icelanders, he says, must take into consideration the fact that ADL reports attract a lot of attention from the American and international press.
“In the past six months our reports have been published everywhere from the CNN and NBC to The New York Times and The Washington Post,” he explained. Greenblatt reckons in fact that since 28% of tourists coming to Iceland are from North America, it will be an economic disaster if Iceland were connected with the Nazis, as people would gladly stop visiting in order to boycott the country.
Neither more nor less significant
Despite the seriousness of Greenblatt’s comments, MP Silja Dögg Gunnarsdóttir, who created the bill in the first place, seems to be quite uninterested. “These are neither more nor less significant opinions than other people have expressed,” she told Vísir. “But to link the bill to purposeful anti-Semitism is insane. The bill only wants to protect the rights of the child to control his own body, and to make sure that no unnecessary surgery that could potentially harm the child is performed that early.”
Íris Björg Þorvaldsdóttir, an Icelandic nurse who recently founded an organisation called Intact Iceland, which opposes circumcision without medical reasons, also commented on ADL’s remarks. “The question is whether Icelanders will cave in front of such threats,” she said. “Are the rights of a child negotiable as if we were talking about a business agreement? Or are they individuals with certain human rights, as the Convention on the Rights of the Child states?”