“Latest salvo in circumcision war” (April 18), a story about its health benefits, may well have made a case for regular circumcision for newborn babies but missed the point of bris milah.
The reason for bris milah today is not hygiene. Whatever its origin may be, hygiene or divine commandment, its purpose as a tradition thousand of years old is to provide a link for the newborn male baby with the entirety of the Jewish people, past, present, and future. Such rituals provide a sense of continuity. Ceremonies such as bris shalom, made out of whole cloth with no basis within Jewish history, do not.
The notion that parents do not have the right to have a child go through bris milah is clearly mistaken. Parents have an intrinsic right to make such religious and educational decisions regarding a child’s upbringing absent abuse and neglect. Both constitutional law and international law recognize that fact. Indeed, any attempt to ban bris milah anywhere brings the odor of Stalinism.
The opposition expressed in Europe is not related to medical considerations but is hostile to religious tradition in general. In referring to kosher slaughter, a head of a veterinarian association said how irrelevant religious traditions were. Similar statements were made about bris milah in the circumcision debate in the European Parliament. You add that to a fear of Muslims, who have practices similar to kosher slaughter and bris milah, and you have the reason for this effort.
Jews are the collateral damage caused by anti-religious and anti-Islamic feeling.