Anti-Circumcision Advocates Should Cut It Out


chaskel-bennettBy Mr. Chaskel Bennett

The recent California bill signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown making it illegal for local municipalities across the state to pass laws banning circumcision was a sorely needed breath of political fresh air. By signing this important bill, Brown stood up for both democracy and religious rights.

When anti-circumcision advocates (“intactivists,” as they are now called) make their case for banning this routine surgical procedure, as they recently tried to do in San Francisco with the Male Genital Mutilation Bill, they invariably point to the (atypical) occurrences of child mortality while excluding the hard evidence that overwhelmingly confirms its safety. More specifically, they tend to ignore the reality that millions of people, Jews and non-Jews alike, through the millennia have had male circumcision with few, if any, of the adverse issues they so vividly describe.

I suggest the reason they deliberately discount this fact is because statistics from the millions of procedures soundly confirm, absent a few rare cases, an almost nonexistent injury or mortality rate.

Therefore, there is simply no basis for a call to ban circumcision on medical grounds. Indeed, when making their groundless case, intactivists have taken to casting aside the large body of medical evidence, cited in the new California law, that circumcision is an important life-saving shield against the transmittal of certain diseases. Many respected experts believe that circumcision may help protect against penile cancer, the human papilloma virus and HIV, among other afflictions.

By deliberately minimizing or ignoring studies that tout the benefits of circumcision, intactivists reveal a potentially deeper and more troubling bias than their stubborn suspicion of science.

The Jewish people are no strangers to attacks on their religious practices, which often come in the form of enlightenment – in this case, under the guise of “childrens’ rights.” From ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome to Nazi Germany and communist Russia, male circumcision has always been in the crosshairs of our adversaries. They all understood that Brit Milah – part of Abraham’s covenant – is at the very heart and origin of authentic Judaism.

Tellingly, anti-circumcision advocates seem not at all concerned with ear piercing, which is forcibly thrust upon millions of helpless American children. It is circumcision that mysteriously riles them up.

When one views the deeply offensive images of the satanic Jewish “Monster Mohel” in the “Foreskin Man” comic published by intactivists who led the effort to ban circumcision in San Francisco, the mystery is resolved.

Brit Milah is not simply an “ancient, outmoded practice” akin to “slavery” as some intactivists ignorantly describe it, but a fundamental component of the Jewish faith. It is the height of hubris for any activist to label circumcision, a sacred covenant, passed from generation to generation, as “primitive.” Primitive is an adjective better applied to the dastardly custom of ridiculing biblical law and the faithful who hold such tenets to be divine.

Some have argued that a newly contrived naming ceremony called “Brit Shalom” would satisfy the religious obligation of those looking for an alternative to the real thing. But in truth, “Brit Shalom,” a bloodless counterfeit of Brit Milah, is as authentic as the $10 knockoff sold to unsuspecting tourists as a Rolex.

Our government has provided Americans of all faiths with more religious freedoms than can be found anywhere else in the world. It is this fidelity to our variety of beliefs that sets this country apart. An attack on circumcision today should be viewed as an attack on personal liberties everywhere. Gov. Brown correctly recognized that circumcision is a health benefit – and crucial to those of us who answer to a higher power.

Chaskel Bennett is a member of the board of trustees of Agudath Israel of America.

{NY Daily News/ Newscenter/Photo credit: Mr. Shimon Gifter}