Assault on Jewish customs in Scandinavia
With the recent outlawing of circumcision in the district of Cologne, Germany, the circumcision debate was bound to find its way to neighboring Denmark. And it has.
A circumcision ceremony in Bnei Brak Photo: Gil Cohen Magen / Reuters
The circumcision debate has been simmering in Denmark for years on end. With the
recent outlawing of circumcision in the district of Cologne, Germany, the
circumcision debate was bound to find its way to neighboring Denmark.
Denmark, and Norway in particular, have been debating the ancient
practice of circumcision. The intense public debate has been raging since
mid-July, and many voices – especially those being heard – have come out in
favor of a prohibition on circumcision.
Outside the Jewish and Muslim
communities, the support of the practice has mainly come from individuals,
primarily the elderly.
Some Christian groups, including the Bishops of
Denmark, have voiced their support of the practice, despite the fact that they
usually don’t comment on the political situation. It must be pointed out,
however, that organized Christianity in the largely secular Denmark is very
Among the political parties, so far only the coalition party
Red-Green Alliance, the Communist party, has come out and openly said they favor
a ban. The first time a Danish political party took a position on the legality
of circumcision was in 2008, when the Red-Green Alliance demanded a ban. Among
other parties, politicians and party spokespersons have come out in favor of a
ban, but these are not (yet) the official positions of the parties.
DISCUSSION on whether male circumcision should be banned or not is not a new
one. However, more voices have now joined the choir. No parties whatsoever have
expressed any support for the practice of circumcision.
Genital Mutilation) is illegal, and has been since 2003. A ban on FGM was
suggested in 1997, but did not go through. The parties who voted against the
bill prohibiting FGM in 1997 include some of the parties who now propose a ban
on male circumcision.
In 1997 they argued in parliament that: “A
determined preventive effort to enlighten as another means in the fight against
FGM was to prefer instead of prohibition.”
What has happened in the minds
of the politicians since then, one can only speculate. A zealous secular
crusade, some say.
Politiken, the influential center-left newspaper that
originally sparked the debate with an editorial defending the practice of
circumcision, also printed an article by Kjeld Koplev, a prominent Jewish-born
Christian journalist, who argued that his circumcision as an infant, and
therefore against his will, was the equivalent of torture.
continues to lend its voice to both sides of the controversy: among others, they
published a portrait of a young Danish Jew called Phillip Lehrer. He claimed
that parents make decisions for their children that are far more important and
irreversible than circumcision. He underlined his point very clearly: “Should we
also prohibit parents to feed their children junk food, which causes diabetes?
Or should we prohibit parents to expose their children to passive smoking that
causes lung cancer?”
Dr. Morten Frisch, the doctor behind the so-called
“sensational” new study on sex-related problems resulting from circumcision has
also been given a voice in Politiken.
Frisch makes no effort disguising
what he thinks about anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, etc. – he claims it’s all
ploys used by the Jews to silence a contentious debate.
“To me,” he
wrote, “it appears insulting to the sense of justice, that we live in a country
which, because of fear of accusations of anti-Semitism, racism, Holocaust and
imaginative threats about Jewish and Muslim mass exodus, lacks the political
courage to change the law. That we in 2012 still accept that Danish boys must
sacrifice a sexually precious body part, in order for parents to live up to
their religious duties.”
WHAT PUBLIC debate has refused to deal with,
however, is the fact that Frisch’s study almost exclusively dealt with males
circumcised far into their adulthood (i.e., they were not religiously
circumcised, but circumcised because of pre-existing medical problems in the
lower regions). Just two Jewish males, and three Muslims
Another aspect worth considering is how people historically
have defined their own identity based on how they are different from
Perhaps for these reasons we see people like Koplev vehemently
attacking Jewish customs, in an attempt to distance himself from the identity he
has chosen to leave behind.
The practice of circumcision has been called
“barbaric,” an “assault,” an “attack,” “amputation,” “torture,” “mutilation” and
worse in the public debate in Denmark.
What the supporters of prohibition
have yet to explain is why these mutilated and tortured Danish Jewish children
grow up and enjoy a much higher level of education, income, and living compared
to the average Dane.
One cannot help but think that there are other
motives behind the ongoing war on Judaism in Europe, and particularly in
Scandinavia. According to the Patient Insurance Association there have been
complications in 14 cases since 1996 that had to do with religious circumcision
– a number that includes the 50 times larger Muslim community.
miniscule percentage of Jewish circumcision, combined with the recent accusation
that the Danish Chief Rabbi Bent Lexner is outright lying on the number of
complications, indicates that the root of the objections to circumcision is none
other but the infamous and insidious European anti-Semitism.
So what will
happen? The chief rabbi is not in doubt: “If there will a prohibition by law,
Jews will not break this law. Instead, they will leave, and they won’t come
The writer is a former secretary of state for the Libertarian
Youth in Denmark.