Itzik appeals to Merkel to protect circumcision

Former Knesset speaker says support for circumcision is a non-partisan issue, must be anchored in legislation in Germany.

Kadima MK Dalia Itzik 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Kadima MK Dalia Itzik 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Circumcision is a non-partisan issue in Israel, and Germany must protect the Jewish tradition, Kadima faction chairwoman Dalia Itzik said on Thursday.
Itzik penned a letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, asking her to “exercise her authority to halt any criminal proceedings that are being conducted or which are due to be conducted against mohels in Germany, and to advance, as quickly as possible, a law permitting circumcision ceremonies upon German soil.”
The Kadima faction chairwoman opened the letter by appealing to Merkel as a friend of Israel. Itzik wrote that, when she was Knesset speaker, she was “deeply impressed by [Merkel’s] leadership and willingness to strengthen the bond between the Jewish and German peoples.”
Itzik thanked Merkel for speaking out publicly against the criminalization of non-medical circumcision and proposing to advance a law permitting it.
According to Itzik, legislation allowing circumcision will “strengthen the firm bond between the Jewish people in Israel, the Diaspora and Germany.”
“I value and am impressed by Merkel as a person – she is from East Germany, a professor and a woman running a complex country. She’s amazing,” Itzik told The Jerusalem Post, adding that Merkel is pro-Israel.
Itzik also recounted that the two politicians had a good rapport during the chancellor’s visits to Israel, and as Knesset speaker, she worked to change regulations so Merkel would be allowed to give a speech in the plenum, a privilege usually only given to presidents.
The Kadima faction chairwoman expressed hope that, because the letter comes from an opposition party, it would show the chancellor that the issue of circumcision is beyond politics.
Itzik explained that she called for Merkel to promote legislation ensuring that the legality of circumcision is completely unambiguous.
“This is a basic element in Judaism, a foundation stone,” she said. “This is not an issue only for religious or ultra- Orthodox people.”
People may think circumcision is primitive, Itzik added, but it is not the government’s job to decide, though they can regulate the practice and license mohels.
She also pointed out that Israelis are especially sensitive to Germany, and as such, Merkel must stop the criminalization of circumcision.
Itzik admitted to feeling squeamish at her grandchildren’s circumcision ceremonies, but added that “it doesn’t matter. No one knows how the child feels. It is a sign of Judaism, and the German government cannot intervene.”