Monday, November 24, 2008

Denmark Contemplating Circumcision Ban: My Response

Not long ago , Denmark came under fire from Islamists for publishing caricatures of Islam’s central prophet Muhammed in a leading Danish newspaper. People were actually killed in furious demonstrations across the Islamic world. Radical Islamists mounted a boycott of Danish goods. Millions in the West were rightfully disgusted at the attempt to encroach upon the free speech of the majority.

I never thought I would contemplate joining Muslims in a boycott of Danish goods. But that day could come soon. According to Ynet,

At a time where anti-Semitic acts seem to be on the rise in Europe, a bill was proposed in Denmark that will affect mainly Jews – the banning of male child circumcision.

Denmark’s National Council for Children has recommended the legislation of a law banning circumcision of boys under the age of 15.

The passing of this law would make the Jewish mitzvah and tradition of circumcising a child on his eighth day a crime.

The country’s Ethics Council supported the proposal and now only the parliament’s medical committee can intervene and prevent the proposal from being heard.

“Circumcision is the irreversible damage to a child’s body before he is given the chance to object,” the National Council for Children argued.

According to Denmark’s chief Rabbi, Bent Lexner, the passing of such a law would amount to an order of expulsion against Denmark’s Jews. Circumcision is both central and essential to Judaism and to Islam. In Jewish tradition, circumcision is performed on the eighth day of a child’s life whenever possible medically. A ban on circumcision until later in life is in direct contradiction to Jewish law

The law proposed by Denmark’s National Council for Children is a classic example of political correctness taken to insane extremes. The council argued that “Just like female circumcision was banned five years ago, male circumcision should be banned.”

Female “circumcision” is a completely different procedure, often involving extensive mutilation. The use of the term “circumcision” to describe it creates an illusion of commonality that does not exist.

The spurious argument is also advanced that children are deprived of the opportunity to object by having circumcision done in infancy.

An attack on circumcision would put jews and Muslims on the same side of a heated dispute. I would not hesitate to join a boycott of Danish goods if so unjust a law were ever passed. The proposed Danish law is an attack on Islam and Judaism. One does not have to be a religious fanatic to adhere to this practice. Every Jewish schoolchild who goes to Sunday school or yeshiva hears stories about cruel enemies of Jews who banned circumcision. What some in Denmark propose would put their country in such company.

I have long honoured the duty to remember eternally the kindness of the Danish people who followed their king, King Christian in donning the yellow star and protecting their Jewish population. It pains me to put my eternal debt of gratitude to the Danish people to the side. But I can not tolerate an attack on the Jewish faith that has such powerful symbolic and practical resonance.

The Nazis banned kosher slaughter as inhumane soon after coming to power. These same Nazis murdered children with even minor birth defects. There is a sense of disproportion that creeps into man made standards of decency. It is best expressed by the Talmudic saying’ “He who is merciful to the cruel is destined to be cruel to the merciful.”

I hope that decency wins the day and that the Danes will reconsider. If I had to turn from them, it would be with deep sadness, but no regrets.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think it's a fair law. ALL infants should be protected from any genital modification. Unless it's an absolutely pressing medical reason, their genitals should be left alone until they can choose what happens.