If accidents or disease reduce the bodily functions of a child, we do whatever we can to remedy the damage. Why then inflict such a loss on healthy children ourselves?
June 27 was a sad day for Danish boys. On this day the minister of health, Astrid Krag, rejected legislation against boy circumcision on the basis of a newly delivered report from the Health Council. But the report and Krag’s arguments only relate to a very narrow health perspective, they do not deal with the equally important human rights aspects.
When I was a teenager, my father started complaining about circumcision. He would say things like, “I don’t understand why, in a world full of pain, we choose to put our baby boys through even more pain.” It was only when I was pregnant with my son, and had a serious conversation with my father about circumcision, that I discovered he would not have wanted to cut a son of his own. He said to me, “There is enough pain in this world, why would anyone want to inflict pain on a newborn baby so that pain is all he knows of life?”Although I grew up as a Conservative Jew, learned to read Hebrew, had a Bat Mitzvah, and even kept kosher for a while, I gradually became more secular. I discovered a Reconstructionist synagogue in Miami and loved the Rabbi’s philosophy: “Judaism is like you grandmother’s attic–you take things down Continue reading →
By Kjeld Koplev, Radio Host / Journalist
(Full translation of article published in Danish daily Politiken 07/18/2012)
Translated and published by Lena Nyhus / IQvixen with permission from the author
Kjeld Koplev Photographer: Miriam Dalsgaard
Circumcision is an interference into the sex life of the Jewish man and should be stopped immediately.
The signature Anders Jerichouw (AJ) writes in the editorial of Politiken 07/15/2012 that circumcision of Jewish boys is the family’s way of passing on love.
I find that it is pure torture! Cocksure, AJ claims that the circumcision causes no harm. I say, that the torture I was exposed to when a Rabbi cut off my foreskin without anaesthesia – and without medical experience or training – inflicted lifelong psychological trauma on me.
The Rabbi who yielded the knife also inflicted a castration anxiety that has stayed with me ever since.
I cannot in any way see that circumcision has the least to do with love. Continue reading →
March 1980: a man drives into a neighborhood south of Copenhagen. He stops in front of a terraced house, walks up the stairs to the first floor and into the bedroom where he proceeds to greet the people present. He recites a number of verses – and then he cuts of my foreskin and takes it with him.
32 years later I have grown up to write to you, Bent Lexner, because you are Chief Rabbi and in charge of Jewish circumcisions in Denmark. Questions have piled up Continue reading →
Fantastic! We have our second meme. This time designed by Svend Eide Joensen. He has chosen to address genital mutilation aka circumcision – regardless of gender – committed in the name of religion.
In some cultures it is claimed that genital mutilation is commanded by God in order curb sexuality, heighten cleanliness or demonstrate allegiance to the religion. Either way it is not only an assault on the child; an assault it could die or become permanently injured from. It is also a violation of the persons religious freedom.
Parents rights to religious freedom end where the child’s rights to religious freedom and an intact body begins.
In early December 2012 The German Paediatric Association took a massive leap forward in the defence of children subjected to genital mutilation.
Based on comprehensive studies into amongst others circumcision procedures, pain thresholds in infants and children as well as possible physical and psychological consequences of the procedure the German Paediatric Association (Berufsverband der Kinder- und Jugendärzte e.V.) recommended a ban on circumcision of boys.
Referring to studies by numerous specialists their conclusion was clear Continue reading →
Circumcision Tantamount to Bodily Harm a local Cologne (Köln) court ruled in May 2012. The ruling enraged Jewish and Muslim communities all over Germany and provoked an intense debate on the issue reaching as far up as parliament, which is currently debating legislative action.
The dilemma faced by the legislative body and the public alike is how to balance considerations concerning the child’s rights as well as respecting religious minorities and avoiding notions of discrimination.
With one part claiming parental and religious privileges and the other citing the child’s right to protection from abuse and bodily harm the borders are sharply drawn at the best of times and voices of the debate shrill, but at this point neither part of the conflict seem confident that their particular point of view will conquer.
In the middle of this tense atmosphere award-winning Jewish filmmaker Victor Schönfeld presents ‘It’s a boy’ a documentary on infant circumcision – botched infant circumcision. Reportedly Professor Dr. iur. Reinhard Merkel, member of the German Ethics Council has called for members of the Bundestag to view the film before they legislate on a general permission for non-medical circumcisions of young boys, naming it a “noble obligation”.
‘Can you give me back my foreskin?’ Temp Teacher and former member of the Danish Mosaic Community Leo Milgrom asked Chief Rabbi Bent Lexner in an open letter published in Politiken 07/28/2012.
Read more here (Article in Danish: Kan du give mig min forhud tilbage?)
In an insightful piece Milgrom shared his thoughts on the Jewish culture that had fostered a tradition of circumcision citing scripture on several occasions to expose some of the many commandments that the Jewish community of today have already abandoned.
A modern human being must be able to explore and discuss the culture, traditions and rituals which it is part of, but unfortunately some parts of the Jewish community seem unable to partake in such a debate, he claims. Surely, the time has come to question and abandon and ancient and cruel ritual that leaves children traumatised.
Chief Rabbi has circumcised more than 1.000 infant boys over the years according to his own records and he is the religious head of the Jewish community in Denmark. In that capacity Milgrom asks for answers on behalf of himself and perhaps to the benefit of some of the other boys Lexner circumcised over the years.
The intimate bond of trust between parents and child is irreversible severed during circumcision, substituting family with religion. Later in life, when the boy becomes a man, yet again the circumcision inhibits intimacy between the man and his sexual partner. Between them will always be a third party; religion.
Milgrom’s mother cried during the circumcision, his father nearly fainted, they have confided to him. His question to the Chief Rabbi is ‘Why didn’t the circumciser stop to ask what was the matter?… Did he at any time think: I wonder what this little boy thinks about what I’m doing to him? Do these contemplations not even enter your minds?’
To my knowledge Milgrom’s questions, as I have described them here, remain unanswered. Cheif Rabbi of Denmark Bent Lexner never replied.
When the debate about male genital mutilation (so-called circumcision) flared up in Denmark during the summer of 2012 one of the most compelling opinions voiced was that of journalist and author Kjeld Koplev; ‘In my opinion it is pure torture!’ he exclaimed in a column printed in the prominent Danish newspaper Politiken on 07/18/2012 and continued to explain how the circumcision he suffered through as an infant had left him traumatized and with castration anxiety lasting into adulthood and crippling his life and sexuality.
‘Circumcision is not an act of love.’ he wrote as a response to an opinion voiced by journalist Anders Jerichouw in an editorial in Politiken 07/15/2012 ‘It is a selfish act, wherein some people – in misunderstood religious zealousness – abuse and brand an infant boy. Not more nor less. Any other opinion is simply a rationalisation.’
A circumcised child existing in a primarily uncircumcised society such as the Danish suffers from yet another torment; he is ostracised. Perhaps not literally, but in his own mind. Being different at an age where one desperately wishes to just fit in can be extremely challenging.
Mr. Koplev draws attention to the UN-concention on Childrens Rights (ratified by Denmark) and claims that surely circumcision must be considered a violation.
Accusations of anti-Semitism and other parallels to Nazism and fascism are frequent in the debate about circumcision but as Mr. Koplev frases it; ‘Naturally, my opposition has nothing to do with hatred towards Jews.’ Just as the opposition to female genital mutilation is not rooted in hate towards Islam, the opposition towards male genital mutilation (aka circumcision) is not by any means related to anti-Semitism.
It would be suitable Koplev states if the practitioners themselves abandoned the barbaric tradition of genital mutilation of both boys and girls even before legislation restricts it.