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.

circumcision brit mila 311 R (photo credit: Gil Cohen Magen / Reuters)
circumcision brit mila 311 R
(photo credit: 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.
And it has.
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 weak.
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.
THE 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.
FGM (Female 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.
The newspaper 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 participated.
Another aspect worth considering is how people historically have defined their own identity based on how they are different from others.
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.
The 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 back.”
The writer is a former secretary of state for the Libertarian Youth in Denmark.