Council of Europe rejects Israeli criticism of anti-circumcision resolution

German MP says council's mandate to promote children's rights, on equal footing with fight against anti-Semitism.

October 5, 2013 05:55
2 minute read.
Baby undergoes circumcision

Baby undergoes circumcision R 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on Friday rejected Israeli criticism of its resolution calling for the regulation of circumcision practices, denying Jerusalem's claims that it compared Jewish circumcision of male children to female genital mutilation.

The Council's resolution passed Tuesday called male ritual circumcision "a violation of the physical integrity of children" and called on  states to "initiate a public debate, including intercultural and inter-religious dialogue, aimed at reaching a large consensus on the rights of children to protection against violations of their physical integrity according to human rights standards."

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The Foreign Ministry responded on Friday, stating that the resolution was a "moral stain" on the council, and adding that, "Any comparison of this tradition to the reprehensible and barbaric practice of female genital mutilation is either appalling ignorance, at best, or defamation and anti-religious hatred, at worst."

AFP quoted the rapporteur responsible for the text of the council's resolution as saying Friday that it "in no way compares the circumcision of boys to female genital mutilation."

"We did mention different categories of violation of the physical integrity of children, which we, however, very clearly distinguished and did not mix up in any way," Marlene Rupprecht said in a statement.

She added that the resolution "does not intend to stigmatize any religious community or its practices."

The German Social-Democrat parliamentarian said that the resolution "calls for public debate aimed at reaching a wide consensus on the rights of children to protection against violations of their physical integrity."

Rupprecht said it was the council's "mandate to promote the respect for human rights, including children's rights, on an equal footing with the fight against racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia."

The Council is a pan-European intergovernmental organization of 47 member states that is not affiliated with the European Union, and which cannot make biding laws.

MK Nachman Shai (Labor), who led a Knesset delegation to the Council of Europe earlier this year, said that the decision shows ignorance and a lack of basic understanding of one of Judaism's most basic customs.

"For the Jewish people, this is a path that stood the test of thousands of years, and now the Council of Europe is trying to erase it," Shai said.

The MK plans to demand that the council hold a new discussion on the topic as soon as possible.

"This is an initiative that must be stopped immediately," Shai stated.

Herb Keinon and Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.

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