anti-Semitism JEWISH HERITAGE Manfred Gerstenfeld



This article by Gr.Gerstenfeld was published in today’s edition of YNET, and republished here with the author’s consent. Included are the footnotes not published with the original article.

The European Circumcision Battle

By Manfred Gerstenfeld

Until recently, the issue of prohibiting Jewish religious customs was mainly part of the political and public debate in Western Europe. In Germany, it has now become a legal matter. A decision by the state court in Cologne that circumcision causes bodily harm not only triggered major problems for the German Muslim and Jewish communities. The German government itself and many parliamentarians are unhappy with the international perception that their country leads the world in prohibiting circumcision. They are also embarrassed by the related associations with Hitler’s regime.

Andreas Michaelis, German Ambassador in Israel, appeared on 9 July before the Knesset’s Immigration aAbsorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee on this issue. He explained that in a lower German court, a doctor who had circumcised a four year old Muslim boy, was accused of having caused the child irreversible bodily injury. The court agreed, yet did not charge the doctor with any offense. The Cologne state court upheld the decision.

The ambassador explained at length that this judgment is not a precedent for other German courts. Only the country’s constitutional court may establish a nationwide legal ruling. He stressed that the government could not interfere with the courts’ rulings. Michaelis mentioned that finding a solution to legally establish the right of parents to have their children circumcised will take considerable time.

The ambassador quoted German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who stated that Germany doesn’t want to dispel its image of tolerance. Since then, Chancellor Angela Merkel and many other German politicians have come out in favor of allowing circumcision of boys. Merkel said that a prohibition would turn Germany into “a nation of jokers.” Opinion polls however, indicate that a majority of Germans support the prohibition of circumcision.

German Christian, Muslim and Jewish authorities have all come out against the court’s decision. Dieter Graumann, head of the umbrella organization the Central Council of Jews in Germany, stated that a prohibition would make Jewish life in Germany impossible. Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, Chief Rabbi of Moscow and President of the Conference of European Rabbis said that this was the worst attack on Jews since the Holocaust.

In the meantime, the Cologne court’s ruling has already had consequences beyond Germany’s borders. Not only the Jewish hospital in Berlin but also the Zurich children’s hospital has announced that it will not undertake religious circumcisions. Hospitals in several other Swiss cities are considering similar moves. In the Knesset Committee, experts mentioned that several Jewish circumcisers from abroad have stopped traveling to Germany to circumcise boys.

The debate on prohibition of circumcision is far from limited to Germany. In Norway, the issue is discussed frequently. Recently, the Center Party – which is part of the coalition government – came out in favor of prohibition. Norway’s leading paper Aftenposten spotlighted a Danish medical study which found that circumcision negatively affects proper sexual functioning. In the Netherlands and the United Kingdom there is much media discussion on the circumcision issue.

Though presented as a purely medical matter, it is naïve to think that this is the sole motivation of all those in favor of prohibiting circumcision. Militant secularism and widespread anti-religious feelings play a major role. Are the “humanists” in the forefront of the prohibitionists, the neo-pagan reincarnation of the anti-circumcision Hellenists and Romans?

Many attacks on circumcision are also motivated by anti-Islam feelings. If this wasn’t true, the focus on parents’ behavior toward their children would rest mainly on the many irreversible traumas they may cause them. Anti-Semitism may play some role, but the victimization of Jews is mainly collateral damage from a desire to hurt the Muslim population.

It would be wrong to regard the attacks on circumcision as stand-alone. Jewish religious rituals are under constant attack in Europe, often as fallout from attacks on Muslim rituals. Up until now, the focus has been on ritual slaughter without prior stunning. Occasionally, there are also voices requesting to prohibit eternal cemeteries. In the U.K., a legal precedent forces Jewish schools to admit students they do not consider Jews according to Jewish law.

A lengthy parliamentary struggle in The Netherlands drew international attention to the unstunned ritual slaughter issue. Finally, the government reached a compromise with the Muslim and Jewish communities. However, in its election platform the Freedom Party of Geert Wilders – which defines Islam as an ideology and not a religion – proposes to prohibit all ritual slaughter.

Jews and Muslims may however have been fortunate that Germany is the first European country where prohibition of circumcision is in the legal sphere. The important influx into Germany of Jews during the past decades gives many Germans a feeling that, despite its war past, democracy is functioning. A partial Jewish exodus due to a possible prohibition of circumcision would therefore be far more problematic for Germany than for any other European country.


1.) Admin, “German ambassador in Knesset speaks about circumcision ruling,” European Jewish Union, 11 July 2012.
2.) “Westerwelle kritisiert Urteil zu Beschneidungen,”, 29 June 2012 [German].
3.) Umstrittene Rechtslage, “Kanzlerin warnt vor Beschneidungsverbot,” Spiegel, 16 July 2012 [German].
4.) Aufgezeichnet von Julia Nikschick und Marc Röhlig, “Du bist beschnitten, du bist ein Mann,” Spiegel, 13 July 2012 [German].
5.) RZ-INTERVIEWmit Dieter Graumann: “Beschneidung muss legal bleiben,” Rhein-Zeitung, 19 July 2012 [German].
6.) Tony Paterson, “Circumcision ban is the ‘worst attack on Jews since Holocaust,” The Independent, 13 July 2012.
7.) “Stoppt auch das Kinderspital St. Gallen Beschneidungen?” Bernerzeitung, 20 July 2012, [German].
8.) Anne Lindboe, “Guttas Kropp – deres valg,” Aftenposten, 17 July 2012. [Norwegian]
9.) Elisabeth Rodum & Jørgen Svarstad, “Senterpartiet vil forby rituell omskjæring av gutter,” Aftenposten,
13 June 2012. [Norwegian]

10.) “Omskårne menn og deres partnere får oftere sexproblemer,” Aftenposten, 18 July 2012. [Norwegian] Based on: “Morten Frisch, Morten Lindholm and Morten Grønbæk,
“Male circumcision and sexual function in men and women: a survey-based, cross-sectional study in Denmark,” International Journal of Epidemiology 2011;40:1367–1381.

11.) ”Israelitischer Gemeindebund fordert von CVP weitere Schritte,” NZZ Online, 6 December 2009. [German]

12.) Leslie Wagner, “Yet another defect in UK law,” Jerusalem Post, 16 December 2009.

13.) “De agenda van hoop en optimisme. Een tijd om te kiezen: PVV 2010-2015,” verkiezingsprogramma PVV 2010-2015, Partij voor de Vrijheid. [Dutch]

15 Responses

  1. The anti-circumcision laws will come into being, but I bet you anything that only Jews will be prosecuted for circumcising young boys. The far more dangerous and cruel habit of female circumcision will probably be ignored!

  2. If the cultural traditions of Germany is that the genitals of infant boys or girls, are not mutilated, then those who do not like it, have the freedom to leave Germany.

    1. German mutilated infant boys and girls sometime ago. And these people had no freedom to leave Germany.

    2. For you to allege that male circumcision is a form of mutilation requires evidence from you of exactly what form the alleged mutilation takes.

      1. Didn’t you know that circumcision involves slicing healthy tissue from a healthy penis without medical need?

        1. I couldn’t care less. It’s a matter of private individuals deciding what’s best for themselves, no knew needs to stock their noses in someone eldest business. Especially big brother government.

  3. Those who wish to cut their privates have the freedom to do so after reaching the age of 18. Religious circumcision seems an oxymoron – it’s belief in a Creator who made men with foreskin and women with labia and clitoris, perfect anatomy for reproductive health and sexual happiness, but later the Heavenly Dictator demanded people to cut off the peak from their pleasure, so to speak. What a wicked logic. @Softly Bob, the parents who have been prosecuted for child genital mutilation have been muslims this far, often from mixed marriages where the muslim parent has arranged the surgery in dubious circumstances and without consent from the other parent. However, the issue should be whether the child agrees with irrepairable, unneccessary surgery at an age where they hardly can understand the long-term repercussions in sexual function.

    1. This is an issue of big government vs. the private individual. If they can intervene in this way…they can do just about anything that they want to.

      1. So you think that ignorant religious savages should have the right to torture and mutilate children as they please without those children having any legal protection?

  4. The real issue that has arisen from this debate on circumcision is far worse then the circumcision itself – bad though it is.

    The worst aspect is that society is now pitted against each other on issues that were not in contention.

    There will be more such issues that were never issues in the first place. What next? Honour killings? Sharia divorce?

    Immigration of totally inassimalable cultures has given rise to Multikultism, which in itself is insane policy, will continue to polarize and divide society. In the long run, such divisions helps Islam to gain even greater traction.

  5. Softly bob has made the most important point. When kosher slaughter is banned it is always in countries where there is also the far worse halal slaughter happening.

    In this case it’s about who will obey the law. Jews obey laws while Muslims proudly flout them by the hundreds of thousands without fear of punishment. So if only one group will obey a law and eveyone knows it than that law is only directed at the people who will obey it and not at the people who will ignore it with impunity.

    Hence these laws are fundamentally anti jewish. No matter what stupid excuses are given.

    And not for nothing but all women I’ve known greatly prefer the appearance of circumsized.

    So you foolish goyim ban it all you like- that will just make us jewish guys even more of a hotter commodity in the dating world than we already are.

  6. Softly bob has made the most important point. When kosher slaughter is banned it is always in countries where there is also the far worse halal slaughter happening – yet halal is not banned – only kosher. Hmmm…

  7. Circumcision for Non-Medical Reasons Is Wrong
    A Commentary By Dr. Maximilian Stehr

    From an epidemiological perspective, the practice makes no sense for Germany. Furthermore, circumcision for this purpose could also be carried out at an age at which the person in question can make their own decisions. The same concern also applies to the supposed preventative nature of circumcision with regard to penis carcinoma or even cervical cancer: If circumcision had an unambiguously positive influence — and not all scientists agree it does — this operation would only make sense at an age when the man is sexually active, in other words at an age when the young man can consent himself.

    Long article, detailing many aspects of an issue that never was an issue in Germany. An imported problem that is doing harm to Germany, both medically and in the form of dividing society. Only Islam profits.

  8. This is so typical of Germany and Norway…the Nazi tradition lives on, Heil (?) who now?
    Jews have been practicing circumcision for thousands of years. Jews do not do female circumcision. It is a religious tradition which is carried out when a male child is 8 days old. Real credible medical professionals in the late 20th and early 21st centuries have proven that male circumcision leads to lower incidence of serious diseases. There has been a movement of ultra liberal free thinkers who disagree, but have no credible science to verify their anti-circumcision drives. There are only 700 Jews left in Norway, and about 25,000 in Germany. They may have to move to escape the Fuhrer’s final action.

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