Inhospitable Europe

As the Council of Europe has identified circumcision as a violation of male children’s “physical integrity," Europe is fast becoming an inhospitable place for Jews – yet again.

Baby undergoes circumcision R 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Baby undergoes circumcision R 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, a body composed of five left-wing political organization that include the Socialist Group, the Alliance of Liberal Democrats for Europe and the Group of the Unified European Left, has identified circumcision as a violation of male children’s “physical integrity.”
Luckily, PACE, which has called “to adopt specific legal provisions to ensure that certain operations and practices will not be carried out before a child is old enough to be consulted,” is powerless to make binding laws.
Nevertheless, PACE’s resolution reflects a growing trend in Europe against religious practices such as circumcisions and ritual slaughter that Europeans deem “barbaric” or “inhumane.”
Increasingly, the approximately 1.4 million Jews living in Eastern and Western Europe are being made to feel unwelcome. As French journalist and writer Michel Gurfinkiel noted in an essay that appeared in August in Mosaic, an online magazine of Jewish thought: “Once again, Jews are accepted on condition: that they separate themselves from their brethren in Israel and join the official European consensus in demonizing the Jewish state; that they learn to accommodate the reality that so many ethnic Europeans hate them and wish them ill, and that Islamists on European soil seek their extinction; and that in the interest of justifying their continued claim to European citizenship, they accept Europe’s proscription of some of the most basic practices of their faith.”
Reading through the report Marlene Rupprecht, a member of the German Bundestag for the Social Democratic Party, prepared for PACE, one gets the distinct impression of tendentiousness, as if her real goal was to proscribe a basic practice of the Jewish faith and in the process she did not allow the facts to get in her way.
In a section titled “Arguments regularly presented in favor of male circumcision and its legal authorization,” Rupprecht rightly notes that the American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Circumcision in 2012 found “the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks,” because it prevents urinary tract infections, acquisition of HIV, transmission of some sexually transmitted infections, and penile cancer.
She also notes that the World Health Organization recommends circumcision because it “reduces the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men by approximately 60 percent.” So far so good.
But then, inexplicably, under the same section where she is supposed to be arguing in favor of circumcision, without warning while discussing religious justifications for the practice, she refers to circumcision as “the ‘dark side’ of their [Jews’ and Muslims’] own religion, traditions and, finally, identity.”
So much for objectivity.
Even more bewildering are the arguments Rupprecht marshaled against circumcision.
She manages to find a slightly out-of-date British Medical Journal article from 1949 that found “no medical justification for routine neonatal circumcision.” (She failed to mention a 2002 BMJ article that found circumcision to be linked to lower rates of cervical cancer.) Bizarrely, she cites a “well-known TV documentary” by Victor Schonfeld, called It’s a Boy, that sought out, and found, some of the negative aspects of circumcision.
And though she claims repeatedly that circumcision “may have serious short-term and long-term consequences for the health and well-being of boys and men,” no where in her report does she bring evidence to this effect.
Reading Rupprecht’s report, which was endorsed in a 78 to 13 vote with 15 abstentions by left-wing lawmakers from 47 European countries, one cannot help but wonder whether PACE – in a dubious invocation of “children’s rights” – is attempting to create a European continent with no Jews.
And if this is coming from Europe’s Left, which should be more sensitive to the infringement of Jews’ basic religious liberties, what should be expected of the xenophobic Right and the fast-growing Muslim minorities with their blatant anti-Jewish/anti-Israel agendas? In short, Europe is fast becoming an inhospitable place for Jews – yet again.