Hi Everyone,
I'm new here, so I hope I'm complying with all the rules regarding posting an article.

 

Anyway, below is an article that a facebook friend posted regarding a proposed circumcision ban in San Francisco. She, a practicing Jewish woman, feels this is an example of "blatant antisemitism". Do you agree?

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/18/san-francisco-circumcision...

Tags: antisemitism, circumcision, politics

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If the local government prohibits it because there is no enough evidence of the benefits of circumcision, then they are wrong.

 

The evidence of potential circumcision benefits are not great enough for any major health organization to currently recommend routine neonatal circumcision.

In Canada, even though we have universal health care, you can only have it done if you pay for it. Drs don't endorse it at all.
once again, hurray canada :D

I stopped debating circumcision years ago and instead got involved in helping to inform insurance companies that it is an unnecessary medical procedure and should not be covered.

 

Circumcision rates have dropped significantly in states which no longer cover it. : )

How did you go about doing this? I'm enjoying these discussions, but I'm more interested in actually doing things that make a difference besides donating money to American Humanists or some such organization.

1st of all let me state that before reading this article this is an issue about which i had not thought much about, so i am not a partisan.

 

however, i sincerely do not think this is antisemitism at all. the article states, "Supporters of the ban say male circumcision is a form of genital mutilation that is unnecessary, extremely painful and even dangerous. They say parents should not be able to force the decision on their young child." As for that, I'd have to say that I totally agree.

 

I mean yes, this does cause a great deal of conflict with religious beliefs, but if we were talking about female circumcision this wouldn't even be an issue. I mean from one point of view this really is genital mutilation regardless of what the motivation is behind it. Some permanent physical disfigurement is being done to an a person who has no voice in the matter.

 

I understand that this is a complex issue, but I have to say that my initial feeling is to support this, and my basis for doing so is basic human rights.

My thought is this: at some point, something that falls under the category of a religious tradition could be banned by society because society deems it harmful, right? To paraphrase from Sam Harris in "The Moral Landscape" if in some religion’s holy book stated “every third child shall live in the dark” and this resulted in a religious ritual where one in 3 children born into this religion had their eyeballs removed…society should be allowed to step in and say “no, we are not OK with this in our country.” Right?

 

I think making a law that said Jews couldn’t keep kosher would be anti-Semitic. I think a law that said Catholics couldn’t eat fish during lent would also be violating a religious right. Though neither of these traditions serves a practical purpose today, they also do no harm and must be tolerated.

 

IMO, the debate regarding the circumcision issue isn’t whether or not it’s anti-Semitic, it’s whether or not circumcision crosses the line beyond what is a socially acceptable practice. Because it was done in antiquity doesn’t necessarily make it ethically right given current knowledge. *and let me cop out by saying I’m not taking either side of that argument.

agree

The proposal isn't calling for a ban on circumcision, but for ban on circumcision on minors. And I think its a very good proposal. Its in the best interest of the child. If he wants to get circumcised, he can, after he turns 18. Don't see how it is blatant antisemitism. Its just saving a kid from an invasive, irreversible procedure, based on the faith of his parents.

I am a strong advocate of keeping children religion free & then letting them make an informed choice later in life as to which faith they wish to subscribe to, if any. Sadly, don't think this will ever happen but one can hope.

Akshay,

You're right..that is an important distinction.

 

While I totally agree with you that it would be ideal if children weren't indoctrinated into religions, as you point out, that is not a realistic goal at the moment. I think the goal should be to uphold Mr. Jefferson's wall between church and state. Ultimately, that's why I care so deeply about this topic.

I think people crying 'anti-semitism' here are bit too self-absorbed if they think such legislation is targeted at removing the rights of practicing Jews and not at meeting the needs of babies.  

 

I am neutral on the issue of circumcision itself, though I would probably lean in favor of this legislation if I lived in San Francisco.  I think cries of 'genital mutilation' are hyperbolic; however, I have decried lesser forms of female 'circumcision' on principle alone. 

For those who know me here, know that more often then not I turn to guru Hitch and he is completely against circumcision;

 

"As to immoral practice, it is hard to imagine anything more grotesque than the mutilation of infant genitalia. Nor is it easy to imagine anything more incompatible with the argument from design".- Hitchens.

 

Personally I agree with this but have more of a problem with the hasidic jewish ritual of sucking the blood of the foreskin with the mouth. Now that is just sick.

 

However, having said that, there is mounting evidence that it does prevent STDs, specifically HIV. This was taken from a recent article that sited a major study:

Dr. James Shelton, science adviser to the Bureau of Global Health of the U.S. Agency for International Development, revealed the results of a study which showed a 60% decrease in HIV infection due solely to circumcision. The study was conducted in Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda. The areas were chosen for their low circumcision but high HIV/AIDS rates

The study was broken down into two control groups, all uninfected with the virus. One group got circumcised, the other did not. Of these young, sexually active males, 60% less of the circumcised males contracted the virus. Due to the incredible findings the studies were ended early and all the males circumcised. The theory that the foreskin is capable of inhabiting the virus post-intercourse and likely to be passed to the next sexual partner is supported.

 

So back to your question Mike, is this law antisemitic? I have not read the wording but I think it would have to say something to the effect of siting judiasm in the wording, in which case it would be a violation of church and state. However, if it is suggesting that circumcision is a harmful practice based on physical effects, then just because it affects a certain demographic does not necessarily mean its antisemitic.

 

Good article and good topic! Welcome to TA!

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