The government’s campaign against laws in Europe banning brit mila, or ritual
circumcision, continued Tuesday, with Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Eliahu
Ben- Dahan (Bayit Yehudi) meeting with Council of Europe secretary-general
Thorbjorn Jagland in Berlin.
“The Council of Europe cannot violate
freedom of religion and fight the principles of Judaism that the Jewish people
observed for thousands of years,” Ben-Dahan said.
The deputy minister’s
comments came over a month after the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of
Europe (PACE) passed a resolution calling male ritual circumcision a “violation
of the physical integrity of children.” The council also said that countries
should protect children “against violations of their physical integrity
according to human rights standards.”
Since then, Knesset Speaker Yuli
Edelstein (Likud Beytenu) called for MKs with connections to European
politicians to make the issue a priority. Many plan to meet with
parliamentarians from across the continent.
Ben-Dahan also spoke to
Jagland about the importance of shechita, or ritual slaughter, which is illegal
in some parts of Europe.
“Freedom of religion and worship is of upright
importance for every person of every religion anywhere in the world,” he
emphasized. “Circumcision is the first mitzva, given only to the Jewish people;
it is the first mitzva our patriarch Abraham fulfilled and it is the first one
every Jew fulfills.”
According to Ben-Dahan, ritual circumcision
symbolizes the eternal connection between the Jewish people and
Jagland told him that PACE did not wish to violate freedom of
worship for Jews and that the organization sought to protect Jewish people and
allow them to keep their traditions.
He added that he would send this
message to member governments.