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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

News Monitor: Germany - Anti-Semitic or Uber-Liberal?

[UPDATE: Here is the follow up article to what I blogged about below - the 'Outraged Jews Respond']

The Times of Israel reported today that a German court declared circumcision illegal, barring out of medical necessity.

The article states "The case that prompted the ruling took place in Cologne, when a 4-year-old boy, circumcised by a Muslim doctor, began bleeding two days after the surgery and needed to be brought into the emergency room."

If the "Muslim doctor" is really a physician (as opposed to someone like a mohel who is often not a physician), then saying that he is Muslim is really irrelevant. This was a medical procedure and either the operator (if indeed the physician is at fault), or the patient (who may have clotting issues), or the parents (who did not care for the circumcision wound properly) are at fault. And this is to be chalked up as one of the more uncommon statistics. [The doctor was apparently acquitted in the suit - it was the judges who took the case a step further to outlaw circumcision]

I am not saying circumcision is comparable with cosmetic surgery, but elective surgery often brings the desired results, and sometimes it does not. [I am also not raising the argument of whether parents "have the right" to do this to their children. There are enough voices in the medical community arguing that circumcision is either beneficial, good, or not harmful to make the pro-circumcision side a legitimate opinion.]

The article also says "The recent landmark decision will likely draw the condemnation of Jewish and Muslim communities, although official representatives have refrained from commenting so far, saying they first want to study the reasons given for the judgment." Which, I guess, is reasonable. Certainly more reasonable than the judges taking one case and deciding on national policy.

"... the district court rule[d] that the circumcision was a “severe and irreversible interference into physical integrity.”

Physical integrity? There are literally hundreds of millions of males in the world who are circumcised. None of them have "physical integrity?" What on earth are they talking about?

Smoking causes lung cancer: has smoking been banned?
Tanning salons cause skin cancer: has tanning been banned?
Elective plastic surgery can go horribly awry: has it been banned? (talk about "physical integrity"...)
Earrings? Any piercings? Tattoos? Braces? Cavity fillings? catheters? Ear tubes for ear infections? Cochlear implants?

If you live in a world in which people enjoy freedoms and there is officially religious freedom, then responsible circumcision falls into the category of untouchables. As I have written in my "Bris: Not Barbaric" posting - most circumcised people do not put a moment's thought during the day, during any given week, or much at all during any given year to the fact that they are circumcised. There are many women in the anti-circumcision camp, and there are men as well (circumcised and uncircumcised) who play a role in the anti-circumcision camp. And, in general, I think they have a little too much time on their hands.

But governments and courts should stay out of telling people what they can and cannot do. We're not talking about the amputation of a limb. The removal of the foreskin does not change the way the penis functions. It may remove nerve endings and alter the appearance. But it gets rid of phimosis (which ends of helping many babies finally urinate properly), it makes the cleaning of the penis very easy, it removes the possibility of growing smegma, and, down the road, it significantly lowers the incidence of certain STDs and other penile-related diseases. And, of course, a circumcised male can enjoy intercourse and father a child just fine, all without a foreskin.

It's not for everybody, and that's OK. But to "ban it" as official "law of the land" on account of one incident is uber-liberal thinking. I find it ironic that all the people who claim "God made you this way" are usually the ones who have no concept of God, religion, etc who smear religions, religious individuals, and religious choices. But when God is convenient, they use God to bolster an argument, not appreciating the rights of others to understand God the way religions have taught for centuries and millenia.

To ban circumcision otherwise in the 21st century (which usually stems from anti-religious thinking) - this is a 200-years step backwards into the realm of feudal lords, czarist regimes, and fanatical irrational despots who had nothing better to do than impose their own will on the people, or make a religious life that conflicted with the despot's view into a very very difficult undertaking.

Shame on these judges.


  1. Remember the response of Rabbi Akiva to Turnusrufus, as recounted in this short article:

  2. Updated link to previous comment.


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