Because Sometimes More is More
—Rabbi David Wolpe
So, I haven’t yet written anything about Germany’s “circumcision ban” and it’s about fucking time.
1. I started getting emails to sign petitions against the ban when it came out. Honestly, I just stared at the screen thinking, “not only will I not sign a petition, I’m pretty sure I’d sign a petition to support the ban!” My, how things have changed.
2. The reason I’d support it is because it makes sense. Jewish parents are performing an unnecessary surgery on a baby. WTF?! Not only that, they’re cutting off part of the guy’s dick! WTF?! And it’s not a use-less part, it’s a very sensitive and enjoyable part, which I think is part of the reason it’s cut off! WTF?!
Doctors have an oath to “do no harm” and medical ethics - fuck, just Ethics in general - would argue that unnecessary surgeries performed on unwitting individuals is wrong.
3. The title of this article sums up this point quite well: German Circumcision Verdict To Delay Until Boy Can Give Consent, Jurist Says
4. Talking to a friend yesterday, he said he was surprised the Germans would do anything “anti-jewish” considering their… er.. history. I agree, but I also see how this reaction makes perfect sense: since the holocaust, germany has become quite liberal and quite concerned with human rights. So it’s not too surprising that they’d find ritual genital mutilation without consent to be a problem. In other words, unlike the stanza in Rabbi Wolpe’s poem, I don’t think they’ve forgotten the holocaust; to the contrary, I think they remember quite well and have therefore been thinking about ethics a lot more than most.
See my other post on circumcision here.
When I first saw the reblog note with your tumblr url I assumed that your commentary on the ruling would have been critical, so I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t a complete surprise, however, given that some of the more vocal and successful critics of circumcision have been Jewish. (I can count myself among them, although my Jewish identity is very secular so adopting an anti-circumcision perspective didn’t require much internal or interpersonal conflict.)
Given the considerable controversy any new anti-circumcision policy is likely to draw, it’s obvious that the historical context would magnify the controversy enormously. As such, a part of me wishes that this had happened in a different country, but at the same time I can agree with your perspective that the tragic loss of freedom suffered during the Nazi regime should serve as a reminder to protect freedom more stringently, even in such ambiguous and hotly contested cases.
(From the IA blog)
Oral suction aside, has anybody else heard of infant penises being aroused in order facilitate circumcisions? Am I naive in having a hard time believing it to be true??
Eli Ungar Sargon in reflection of his debate with Rabbi Boteach
This is a repost of a comment I posted earlier today on Rabbi Eliyahu Fink’s blog.
I have to agree that the comic misrepresents and derides Jews, making it indeed anti-Semitic. As someone who is deeply concerned about the ethical implications of circumcision, I also feel that it trivializes the much more nuanced aspects of this cultural and religious practice.
In my experience, the vast majority of the “intactivist” community is NOT motivated by any kind of general negativity or lack of respect for Jews. It is made up of, in large part, by individuals who became aware of this issue through their own parenthood, men who object to having undergone the surgery, and, as you probably know, there are many Jews involved. The bulk of the personal frustration is aimed at the perceived lack of ethical responsibility on the part of the medical profession, and lack of fair representation in media and other formal channels.
Like you suggested, I believe this imagery to be the product of one person’s fantasy run amok, and my hope is that the leadership behind the SF legislation will take a strong stand to distance itself from the comic and its creator. Mr. Hess should issue a formal apology, retract the comic, and perhaps resign from any leadership roles he may hold within the lobbying effort.
As far as yours and Rabbi Alderstein’s assertion that, the genital-integrity rights argument fundamentally invalidates religious belief, I strongly disagree. Furthermore, I don’t believe that very many people take this position. The conflict arises not from the idea that all or any religious precepts are “silly”, “backwards”, or “ridiculous”, but from the moral and ethical objection to imposing those beliefs onto a third person, in a way that endangers him and also prevents him from consensual participation.