Guardian

Guardian readers unleash fury at Jewish “mutilation” custom known as male circumcision


The Guardian’s Giles Fraser recently defended the custom of male circumcision, in the context of a German court’s recent decision to in effect outlaw the practice (This German circumcision ban is an affront to Jewish and Muslim identity, June 17th).

The court ruled that the religious practice amounted to “bodily harm”, that “neither parental consent nor religious freedom justified the procedure”, and that “doctors who carried out circumcisions should be punished.”

Fraser – who noted that he is half Jewish, but married a non-Jewish woman and later became a Christian priest – defended the practice, writing:

“One of the most familiar modern mistakes about faith is that it is something that goes on in your head. This is rubbish. Faith is about being a part of something wider than oneself. We are not born as mini rational agents in waiting, not fully formed as moral beings until we have the ability to think and choose for ourselves. We are born into a network of relationships that provide us with a cultural background against which things come to make sense. “We” comes before “I”. We constitutes our horizon of significance. Which is why many Jews who consider themselves to be atheists would still consider themselves to be Jewish. And circumcision is the way Jewish and Muslim men are marked out as being involved in a reality greater than themselves.”

On July 19th the Guardian published a series of letters in response to Fraser’s column – most of which furiously attacked the practice of circumcision as morally indefensible, if not barbaric.

Here are excerpts from three separate letters:

  • “I am a victim of circumcision as discussed by Giles Fraser and have resented this mutilation all my life.”
  • “Circumcision is an irreversible mutilation.”
  • “…we should not impose ritual mutilation on those too young to give consent.”

Though such characterizations were typical of most of the letters published, the first letter in the group engaged in an astonishing moral leap which rendered the others exercises in nuance and rhetorical restraint.

The common conceit of most of the letter writers seems to be a belief in their superior secular rationality in contrast to the superstition – and fealty to illogical moral norms – which guides those who support such an irrational religious practice as circumcision.

Yet the sophisticated Brit who wrote this letter, evidently suggesting moral parity between a sadistic Jihadist terror group and the democratic Jewish state, demonstrates that the political doctrines of some within the secular left are sometimes more delusional and unmoored from reason than the faith traditions they so self-righteously demonize.

104 replies »

  1. •“I am a victim of circumcision as discussed by Giles Fraser and have resented this mutilation all my life.”

    Seems to me this guy have been damged by some frontal lobe mutilation too on the way…The question whether with our without his written consent…

    • I think you will find it is his upbringing he resents and milah is something tangible he can kick against rather than it really bothering him.

    • Why not just respect the fact that a minority – even if a tiny minority – of circumcised men resent the operation having been done?

      6 thumbs-up for this horrribe hate-filled little post!

    • A rationnal decision would be to decide that Muslim and Jewish boys should be circumsized once they turn 18 and can take an informed decision for their own body.

      We’re no longer in the medieval age, we should not impose circumcision to newborn who cant’t defend themselves.

      • What do you think you’re doing coming onto this site proposing ‘rational decisions’? Don’t you know where you are?

        • Having Jewish boys willingly decide to get circumcized at 18 would hold a lot of meaning.

          Imposing it on newborns who cannot decide for themselves has little meaning, if any.

          Some Jewish men do belive they’re missing something because they were cut, something which uncut guys do enjoy.

          Nothing should be imposed on a child, ever.

          • Nothing should be imposed on a child, ever.

            Correct. Not to send him/her to school, not to give him/her inoculation against infectious illnesses, not to teach him/her to speak the mothertongue only after a written consent.
            And naturally abortion is a nono without the foetus written consent.

            Some Jewish men do belive they’re missing something because they were cut, something which uncut guys do enjoy

            In your case maybe you are not missing it but what other uncut and cut guys have is a brain.

            • A Jewish colleague of mine referred recently – within the context of the issue – to Christian kids being “waterboarded” during baptism.

              Even though he was deliberately being OTT, it’s a valid argument.

            • Just curious: is there any argument in your opinion against postponing the snip until e.g. a lad reaches bar mitzvah age?

              • Yes. A topical anesthesia is enough for the baby not to feel a thing. In order to achieve painless brit in anyone beyond 4 (let alone an 18 years old), you’re going to need to put him under and keep him on Percocet for a week.
                Call it religious or hygienic, the only other way to make sure your little boy will not develop a phimosis is to teach your baby boy masturbation early on.
                But let’s be serious, when California wanted to ban circumcision, the doctors went up in arms. Not that they make a fortune out of the procedure ($25 which go mostly to the clinic), but it is often a necessary procedure to avoid more drastic measures (all the way to the ablation of the penis).
                When a ritual is hygienic, safe, ancestral, and a compulsory mark of the “tribal” identity of a man, why not just mind your own business and get out of other people’s religious traditions?

                • Circumcision is not “hygenic”. There is no need for it. And babies do feel it.

                  Just admit the only reason is cultural.

                  • I can’t understand you pretzel As far as I know you are not trained as a doctor, and when others showing you expert opinions you just repeat your mantra simply ignoring them. And how do you know that babies feel it?
                    This superior ignorance is amazing. I was “sandak” a couple of times (the man who holds the child during the ceremony) but never saw any reaction from the babies. No doubt that during the next week probably they will feel pain or some discomfort but never during the act itself.
                    Please try to argue quoting medical experts on the subject, maybe you won’t make a bigger fool of yourself.
                    Circumcision is not hygienic?
                    Again how the f*ck would you know that? Have you ever seen a circumcision, the disinfection process of the instruments and the wound? According to most experts, I repeat most experts circumcised adult males are much less exposed to different infections than the not circumcised. This is the main reason of millions non Jews or non-Muslims seek for circumcision for their male children in the Western world.

                    If you disagree I’m begging you try to bring up expert opinions on the subject and not just repeating your absolutely ignorant sentences like a Tibetan monk.

                    • I repeat most experts circumcised adult males are much less exposed to different infections than the not circumcised.

                      That’s because of personal hygiene, i.e. not washing!

                      This is the main reason of millions non Jews or non-Muslims seek for circumcision for their male children in the Western world.

                      Oh please. You must be joking.

                    • Sorry to spoil a good Jewish scrap, but didn’t this start originally with Giles Fraser saying that his circumcision gave him a sense of identity. This was followed by an excellent letter from a Muslim mother saying that if the parents were not to decide on childhood circumcision, who was?

                      The discussion has now become an unpleasant scrap about circumcision in general, and infant circumcision in particular. If that is what the discussion is about I’m happy to contribute, having been cut as an adult. But I thought it was about identity in general and religious identity in particular, and by implication, parental rights. Or am I wrong?

                • Myriam,

                  That was a great response to the ignorance of so many of these self-appointed “experts.”

              • I’m against circumcision in general, but I delegate the right to choose to the parents. If there is any discussion about this subject it must be among Muslims, among Jews and it is not the bloody busines of the halfwit do-gooders of the Guardian whose ignorance on the subject is demonstrably extraorbitant. I can’t see in this anti-semitism just extreme selfrighteousnes, arrogance, stupidity and meddling.

                BTW IF someone would publish an article about the insupportability of women’s right to abortion (‘Im fully supporting it) where the doctor simply kill a foetus and not only cut off a small piece of skin the screaming pouring out of the Guardian’s offices would seriously damage the auditory organs of the gulls of the Thames.

                • it is not the bloody busines of the halfwit do-gooders of the Guardian whose ignorance on the subject is demonstrably extraorbitant

                  But Giles Fraser agued in favor of circumcision!!

            • Peter, how dare you compare cutting a small part of a child’ body to innoculating him against deadly diseases or to sending him to school?

              What are you so afraid of when told that circumcision should be only performed on willing adults? That all Jewish boys, once they turn 18, would refuse to be cut?

            • Peter, a sane alternative to “circumcision for hygiene reasons” is… to take a shower every day.

          • “Some Jewish men do belive [sic] they’re missing something because they were cut, something which uncut guys do enjoy.”

            Would that be you “Benyamin?”
            Tell us, please, as the jewish man you so obviously are, how you feel about your circumcision.

          • “Imposing it on newborns who cannot decide for themselves has little meaning, if any.”

            And you know this because….you Jewish! Steeped in jewish traditions. Obviously!

  2. I think Dr Fraser’s article was a bit confused in places. I don’t agree with his implied definition of liberalism. In addition his reference to Fackenheim is a bit double edged as Fackenheim did not lead by example; he married a non Jewish wife.

    But Fraser is right to emphasise the unifying importance of circumcision to Jews. It has been a vital factor in their survival as a group through the centuries. Not something that can be set aside.

    • It has been a vital factor in their survival as a group through the centuries.

      Excuse me? There are valid reasons for circumcision – all of them religious/cultural, none of them medical/physical let alone existential.

      Let’s not go overboard.

      • Actually, populations that use circumcision tend to have a much lower prevalence of HIVAIDS. So maybe at least one medical reason.

        • Sanity dictates that you use condom, which are the only real tool available to prevent HIV/AIDS. Circumcision is not.

          • That’s not what I said. I didn’t say that circumcision will prevent HIV / AIDS. I said that it is associated with lower levels. And it will reduce your risk level, though it won’t come close to eliminating it. I would therefore also counsel use of condoms. But wanted to point out that this is actually a small benefit of circumcision.

          • Please see World Health Organisations recomendations. Also condoms are easier to use if you are circumcised. WHO recomends both, particularly in parts of Africa.

        • And incidences of cancer of the cervix are lower among wives/partners of circumcised men, so that’s two reasons.

      • There are valid reasons for circumcision – all of them religious/cultural, none of them medical….

        Dr pretzelberg
        I suggest you to read the previous materials before your next pediatrics exam:
        Medical Benefits from Circumcision
        Dr.Brian J Morris

        In the light of an increasing volume of medical scientific evidence (many publications cited below) pointing to the benefits of neonatal circumcision a new policy statement was formulated by a working party of the Australian College of Paediatrics in August 1995 and adopted by the College in May 1996

        But if you are an expert in this subject and knows better…

      • It’s all about hygiene, people. Keep it clean – no worries.

        @ peterthehungarian
        I repeat: there is no medical/physical need for circumcision as such.

        Is that seriously your argument?

        • Thank you dr. Pretzel for your expert opnion on the subject. I hope you will excuse me when I ask you at which uni have you graduated as a medical doctor and which clinic had the honor to have you as an intern in pediatrics and/or urology?
          The Australian College of Pediatrics certainly are a bunch of charlatans…

          • Imagine if I’d posted a similarly childish comment about peterthehungarian’s lack of medical expertise. Would it get the thumbs-up? No. Why not? Because of bigotry.

            You people really are pathetic.

            • I’ll give you a thumbs-up on that one, even if we don’t always agree. We can certainly agree that this is a bigotry-festering pond, indeed.

            • Fantastic pretzel
              You are correct, I’m not an expert so I quoote from an Australian pediatrics journal.
              But I understand that in your inverse world it is childish…
              Speaking about being childish I added a thumbs up to your post little pretzel don’t cry please…

      • Anyhow, despite any arguable medical benefits, this doesn’t necessarily justify a practice which essentially violates the child’s liberty and right to choose. Which I think is what pretzelberg is quite correctly pointing out.

        • Sanity, it’s strange that you are suddenly so concerned about children’s liberty.

          I mean, I don’t hear you yelling against Hamas/PA indoctrinating little children to want to become “martyrs” by killing Jews, which is an infringement of their human rights.

          Why are you so silent about that and yet you believe you have the right to pass opinions about male circumcision?

      • I am afraid you are mistaken. You’d be surprised how many doctors recommend the procedure as a precaution against quite a few medical conditions.
        A phimosis later during childhood is the most widely known, but there are also many small malformations of the meatus which, not uncovered at the time of the circumcision, could provoke extremely serious infections, sometimes even requiring the removal of part or the whole penis.
        I’m pretty sure that, like the one of my sons born with such a problem, any man would bless Judaism for getting such a problem uncovered and cured before he had to sacrifice more than a mere flap of skin.

    • Fackenheim is a bit double edged as Fackenheim did not lead by example; he married a non Jewish wife.

      Oh my God. Call the police!

      And what is this nonsense about “vital factor” to “survival”?

      • Pretzel. Please don’t confuse the medical arguments on this thread with the spiritual.

        There may or may not be some medical advantages to circumcision (I leave that to others more knowledgeable than me), but nobody is arguing that by maintaining this tradition, Jews have somehow given themselves a physical advantage that has ensured our survival.

        You may or may not have a religious belief (whether it be Jewish or other), but please understand that for many Jews, the ritual of brit milah (or circumcision) is an absolutely fundamental, basic and indispensible part of our identity. THAT is what people are talking about when they say that it is a “vital factor” in the “survival” of the Jewish people – because it has been a vital link in the SPIRITUAL survival of our people.

        • *You* may well consider circumcision to be an indispensible part of your identity. THat’s your right.

          However, that doesn’t mean you have a right to pass on that to an unsuspecting new born baby, whatever the spiritual or physical benefits. At best it’s paternalistic.

          However, there are bigger fish to fry than this particular case of religioethnonationalism, such as the fight against apartheid.

          • That’s most generous of you, Sanity. How can I ever thank you for your kindness, kind master, for allowing me the right to have my own identity (gollum gollum), even if you do characterise it as “religioethnonationalism”.

          • Sanity – let me explain further. What is the most powerful natural instinct of any parent of a new-born child? To protect them from harm. Right? (unless of course you are a Hamasnick, in which case it’s to guide them towards martyrdom as soon as possible).

            I have sons, and let me tell you – it was very very hard handing them over to the mohel for their circumcisions. Not because I thought they were in any long-term danger, but because I hated the idea of my sons suffering even a moment of unavoidable pain (which they undoubtedly do).

            But I did it anyway. Why? Because overcoming that primal urge is the most profound way a parent can demonstrate their commitment to the future of the Jewish people. It is a message to G-d that I intend to do my best to continue that long chain that goes back, despite all the obstacles that have been placed in my ancestors’ way, all the way to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

            It is my dedication that the sacrifices made by my forebears, their struggles to overcome the anihilistic attacks by Haman, the Greeks, the Romans, the Catholics, the Nazis, the Islamists and others were NOT IN VAIN.

            You try to take that away from me? You? Because you have some trendy idea that it’s better for an 18-year-old to have a major operation, and suffer weeks of excruciating pain than for an 8-day old to suffer a momentary discomfort that he will have absolutely no memory of. Who the …. do you think you are?

            • I understand your sense of identity is strong. But the point is that you are sacrificing your children to a moment’s suffering because of a commitment to a sense of identity. You might think that trade-off is worth it. But maybe they wouldn’t. Surely that’s their right?

              Wouldn’t it be better for you to passionately convince them so that they can make their own minds up? Incidentally, this is why I am also against infant baptism in Chrisianity.

              So you can ask who the f*** I think I am. But equally, your sons might put exactly the same question back to you. I hope they do.

              • “sacrificing my children”? WTF?

                And if I never put my children through a moment’s suffering? Is that not cruel too? When I allowed my children to walk, even though I knew they would fall over and hurt themselves? When I encouraged them to ride a bike without stabilisers, even though I knew there was a very high chance they could scrape a knee, or maybe even break a bone? When I encouraged them to try new foods, even thought they may have been allergic? When I told them they couldn’t stay up to watch TV, because they had to be alert for school the next day? When I shouted at them for not looking before they crossed the road?

                And my children will have every right when they are old enough to choose whether they wish to be Jewish, Muslim, atheist, gay, straight, bisexual, whatever – and I will love them just the same. They will also have the right to choose to be liars, bullies, cowards, misers or hypocrites … but I will do my best to persuade them not to be, and I make no apologies for that to you or to anyone else.

        • please understand that for many Jews, the ritual of brit milah is an absolutely fundamental, basic and indispensible part of our identity

          I absolutely do understand and appreciate that. What I do not appreciate is people inventing other reasons in support of the practice.

    • “Fackenheim did not lead by example; he married a non Jewish wife.”

      Oh my God! The horror! He actually married for love, rather than have ten children with a woman he does not love and whom he cheats on!

  3. In the endless debate about Jewish identity over whether Jews are an ethnicity or a religion many people, including some Jews, forget that ultimately we’re a tribe (literally the tribe of Judah=Yehuda plural, Yehudi singular==Jude, Jew, Juif etc)

    Circumcision is a tribal ritual and is therefore a primitive throwback to ancient times but to ban it leads to a slippery slope. Will the majority now also decide what our children eat? If we pierce their ears? If boys play with toy guns? This attempt by the thought police to dictate parental decisions is rather fascist in nature given circumcision is a practice dating to pre-history at least 4 or 5 thousand years old.

  4. Mr. Fisken’s letter certainly was missing something essential…the playing of the Looney Tunes theme song at the end.

  5. Levick, have you got around to discovering that Weiss’s mother isn’t Jewish? And that five of the six people his article is devoted to are Syrian Arabs? Time to retract your entire screed against Skelton methinks!

    On an unrelated note, what do you make of the fact that when I posted Ramadan Kareem, lots of people on this site chose to rate is with one star? Evidence if you ever needed it of the dregs who you have encouraged out from under their rocks through your hate speech.

    • We’re still waiting for Adam to answer a simple question: is he a journalist? He appears neither in the listings of the Israeli Press Association, not in those of the Foreign Press Association in Israel.

      • What on earth are you talking about?
        Adam runs a blog. Do you bother the million-plus bloggers around the world about their journalist credentials?

      • I honestly have no idea what you’re talking about. You really looked to see if I was listed in the Israeli Press Association and Foreign Press Association? I’m an Israeli blogger. What about that don’t you understand?

  6. “On an unrelated note, what do you make of the fact that when I posted Ramadan Kareem, lots of people on this site chose to rate is [sic] with one star?…”
    Boo Hoo!
    Are you going to tell on us to your mommy?
    Suck it up, and quit trolling, moron.

  7. Levick, the anti-Islamic sentiment on this site is really quite disturbing. AS evidenced by Commentary101 above, and as I mentioned before.

    • Says the one who calls all Muslims “brown”…
      My God, you’re pathetic.
      I suggest you apply your own instruction, and “retreat to your cave, to cry”.

    • If you don’t like the sentiments expressed on this website maybe this is the high time to go away. There are a lot of websites waiting you under your stone with love, like CIF for example. Who knows maybe you will be comissioned to write an article about your adventures in the world of normal people….Seeing the present requirements at the Guardian regarding their contributors IQ you have a serious chance…

    • What was Commentary101’s comment re. “anti-Islamic sentiment”? Said poster does have a track record of bigotry – but let’s be fair and look at what they’ve actually said.

      • sanity
        Commentary suggested to complain to Mummy not to pretzel (but I’m sure he will drop a lot of tears for you knowing his good soft heart.)

        BTW There is an excellent Israeli drug strenghtening your memory and helping you to remember more than a couple of hours what you lied earlier but you are probably an Israel boycotter so I don’t waste my time.

      • “My ‘track-record’ of bigotry?
        Are you even listening to yourself?
        I would very much appreciate evidence to that effect, otherwise, I’ll take your statements as pretty libellous.
        I have always considered your comments, Pretzel, though sometimes far-fetched or naive, to be very sound and sensible, within the realms of a fruitful discussion, at any rate; this hits a new low.

      • Are you fasting, sanity?

        Methinks your blood sugar is low and may be affecting your mood.

  8. Duvidl is rather proud of his own brit mila, since it was performed by the late Dr. Snowman, may he rest in peace, who was a Rabbi and a doctor and also, apparently, circumcised Prince Charles. No link provided, but HRH might care to leave a comment below.

    • I can go one better:

      My son’s brit mila was performed by the very mohel who circumcised Prince Charles!

  9. As a religious jew who was circumsised on the eighth day I am appaled that these lefties want to remove my right to be circumsised according to my faith. Ironically if the matter was killing the baby a couple of months earlier these selfsame people would vigorously defend the person ending the childs life.

    • Nobody here is removing anybody’s right to be circumsised according to their faith!

      What “lefties” anyway?

      Have you read up on this story at all??

      Your post is the ignorant kind of nonsense that gets in the way of a productive debate.

  10. Where is the letter that talks about “Jewish mutilation”?

    There were indeed a lot of CiF posters criticising circumcision.

    But where on earth do you get the line that “Guardian readers unleash fury” over “Jewish mutilation”?

    What about the readers defending the practice?

    The ruling in Germany was from one local court, btw – and it concerned a Muslim child!

    Yet the sophisticated Brit who wrote this letter …

    This is just crazy talk, Adam.

    We’re not all Berchmans, ya know.
    😉

    • The Guardian/Observer isn’t letting up on this issue.

      A particularly obnoxious article by Catherine Bennett “Circumcision is an affront to decent human behaviour.We rightly decry female genital mutilation. Why, then, are so many happy to condone the male equivalent?” came out today.

      Jews and Muslims “affront decent human behaviour” by clinging to their age-old customs. The conflation of male circumcision with FGM is simply scandalous.

      • I agree re. any such conflation.

        But the problem is that CiFWatch is trying – yet again! – to use and abuse an issue as evidence of anti-Semitism at the Guardian.

    • “There were indeed a lot of CiF posters criticising circumcision.”
      “But where on earth do you get the line that “Guardian readers unleash fury” over “Jewish mutilation”?”
      “What about the readers defending the practice?”

      The overwhelming majority of those reader comments were condemning, and condescending.

  11. Where is the Guardian “in the forefront of calling for its banning”?

    The CiF article is very clearly defending the practice!

    But why not crowbar in a dig at the Muslims while you’re at it, eh?

    Then again: Daisy D has previous when it comes to bigotry, after all.

    • Epic Comprehension Fail.

      Classic teenager Youtube talk!

      You people really make me laugh.

      • Pretzel – you are wrong on this occasion. Daisy is specifically saying that the Guardian are NOT in the forefront of any campaign calling for the banning of circumcision.

        She speculates that the reason behind this lack of fervour from the Guardian is that by launching such a campaign, the Guardian would be going against Muslims as well as Jews. It is perhaps for this same reason that the Guardian has not strongly backed the trendy PC campaign against ritual slaughter of animals for food.

  12. Islamophobia, my dear, ha.
    Quite typical that this discussion in the public, media and the internet quickly turned away from the hundred of millions of Muslims to the small group of Jews.
    Funny how the Muslim minorities went into hiding leaving the Jews alone fighting for their religious interpretations in the public.
    Quite understandable, thinking of the wide-spread practise of FGM in Islamic countries.

  13. It’s interesting how the Guardian has framed this as a Jewish issue.

    When the penny drops that the vast majority of circumcisions are Muslim, they will soon change their tune – or Muslims will change it for them.

    • It’s interesting how the Guardian has framed this as a Jewish issue.

      What on earth are you talking about?

      Contrary to the suggestion in the headline above, the G. did NOT refer to “Jewish mutilation.”