Circumcision: court ruling blasted

Circumcision: court ruling blasted

German decision is a ‘blood libel’ against Jews, says UK Chief Rabbi

BRITAIN”S CHIEF Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, delivered a swingeing attack on a German court that demanded the banning of ritual circumcision – just weeks after it was reported that another infant in the UK had died after he was mutilated by a rabbi.

Sacks, on his blog, wrote:

It [the Cologne court] has declared that circumcision is an assault on the rights of the child since it is performed without his consent. It ignored the fact that if this is true, teaching children to speak German, sending them to school and vaccinating them against illness are all assaults against the rights of the child since they are done without consent. The court’s judgement was tendentious, foolish and has set a dangerous precedent.

He added:

In historical context, however, it is far worse. By ruling that religious Jews performing their most ancient sacred ritual are abusing the rights of the child, a German court has just invented a new form of Blood Libel perfectly designed for the twenty-first century.

Sacks also attacked the verdict on the BBC’s Sunday Morning Live programme at the beginning of July.

His outburst followed a ruling by a London inquest that a rabbi “was completely blameless” in regard to the death of a one-month-old baby from Queen’s Park bled to death less than two days after he was circumcised.

Hours after Angelo Ofori-Mintah was circumcised, the wound began to bleeding. He later suffered a cardiac arrest and died in the early hours of February 17.

The inquest heard that the boy’s mother had received clear aftercare instructions from Rabbi Mordehai Cohen, who carried out the procedure. He gave her a printed guide which included his contact details in case of emergency.

When the boy began bleeding, a friend of the mother, who is originally from Ghana, called the rabbi who advised putting Vaseline on the wound.

Deputy Coroner Shirley Radcliffe said a “tragic break-down in communication” followed, which left Rabbi Cohen unaware of the full circumstances, and that he  was entirely blameless for the tragedy.

Mrs Radcliffe, delivering a verdict of accidental death, said:

This is simply a tragic accident, an unforeseen consequence of the surgical procedure that this baby undertook.

Commenting on the case on his Ending Unnecessary Male Circumcision in the UK blog, Glen Poole said:

It isn’t the first time Dr Radcliffe has angered campaigners. The doctor hit the headlines last year when the family of a cyclist killed by a lorry took legal action against her claiming she failed to comply with her duties to “fully, fairly and fearlessly” investigate the facts of the death

Angelo’s is not the first baby to bleed to death as the result of a circumcision. Later this year a Salford midwife will be tried for the manslaughter of the baby Goodluck Caubergs who bled to death in 2012.

In light of this recent death you are strongly encourage to sign our online petition to government – click here now to help us End Unnecessary Male Circumcision in the UK. 

Meanwhile, it was reported in the US that New York City health officials proposed in June that Orthodox Jewish parents be should to sign a consent waiver before they can take part in a circumcision ritual that is believed to have led to the deaths of at least two babies in the city over the past decade.

The proposal, introduced at a Board of Health meeting, represents an escalation of the city’s efforts to curtail the ancient Jewish procedure of metzitzah b’peh, in which an adult male, usually the circumciser, places his mouth directly on the wound created by the removal of the infant’s foreskin to suck away the blood.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a report based on city information that said that from 2000 to 2011, 11 newborn babies in New York contracted the herpes simplex virus after the ritual. Ten of those babies were hospitalised; two suffered brain damage, and two died.

Based on those findings, the city’s health department issued a statement strongly urging that direct oral-genital suction not be performed during circumcision. It also announced that a number of hospitals had agreed to distribute a pamphlet to parents considering at-home circumcision, warning them of the risks.

Oral suction is no longer a part of most Jewish circumcisions, but among the more than 250,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews in the New York area, the ritual remains commonplace. In its study, the CDC estimated that roughly 3,600 newborn boys a year in New York had circumcisions that included the procedure. Those infants, the agency said, had more than triple the normal risk of contracting herpes.

Over the past decade, as stories of babies sickened after such circumcisions have come to light, ultra-Orthodox authorities have strongly defended the practice as a religious right. Some rabbis argue that there is not enough evidence to show that the procedure causes infection, while others say the practice is important enough that it should be continued anyway.

Hat tip: M A Chohan & Glen Poole


46 responses to “Circumcision: court ruling blasted”

  1. Broga says:

    Jonathan Sachs is one of the most bigotted and arrogant religious leaders who inflict the airwaves, often via the BBC, with their toxic superstitions. His comments on circumcision on helpless infants condemn him far more conclusively than I ever could. Can you imagine allowing an infant of yours to fall under the influence of this poison?

  2. stargraves says:

    Sacks – a good name for a man who talks bollocks.

  3. Irreverend Bastard says:

    Ban any and all circumcisions of underage children. If that is “blood libel” against Jews, then I can only say “Screw the Jews.”

    Actually, screw any and all that support ritual circumcisions, no matter what race, culture or religion.

    Rituals = do weird shit for no good reason.
    Religious rituals = do stupid and harmful shit for no good reason.

  4. Rex Duis says:

    I love this bit – “This is simply a tragic accident, an unforeseen consequence of the surgical procedure that this baby undertook.”

    Dictionary definition of the word ‘undertook’ is: Commit oneself to and begin (an enterprise or responsibility); take on: “a firm of builders undertook the construction work”.

    Ummm did the baby commit itself to having it’s genitals mutilated without anesthetic and allow itself to bleed to death? No.. it did not… The baby did not undertake anything.. it ‘underwent’ which is the past tense of ‘undergo’ which means: “1. to be subjected to; experience; pass through: to undergo surgery and 2. to endure; sustain; suffer: to undergo sustained deprivation.”

    That is a far more accurate reflection of what happened.. the judge should have chosen his words more carefully… the baby was subjected to unnecessary surgery and suffered pain and death as a result.

  5. AgentCormac says:

    “This is simply a tragic accident, an unforeseen consequence of the surgical procedure that this baby undertook.”

    Isn’t this the whole feckin’ point?! The baby didn’t undertake the procedure at all. Just like all other babies that are circumcised it didn’t have any say in the matter whatsoever. The ‘procedure’ was undertaken without its consent, at an age when it could not make a decision for itself, by parents and a physician who wished to mutilate the poor thing in the name of their religion.

  6. Matt Westwood says:

    “teaching children to speak German … [is] against the rights of the child.”

    Well, quite.

  7. Har Davids says:

    The rabbi’s problem is, that people move on and start questioning some ‘sacred’ traditions like taking a knife to a baby’s crotch to show its affiliation with some invisible friend. Being baptised doesn’t leave a scar and is no permanent reminder of your parents’ folly to subscribe you to their cult and if you want to, you can be re-baptised at a later age as many times as you want, a procedure denied to those who’ve been nicked, unless you want to have a bit of the tip of your dick cut off. I wonder what would be the official reaction if I were to start a religion that requires you to have some other body part mutilated.

  8. Broga says:

    The silence of our political masters and mistresses is instructive. If, as a practice, a group of plebs decided that putting a nick in infants’ arms to make them blood brothers an army of social workers would be after them. The speeches and denunciations in parliament would would long and passionate – well pseudo passionate. The BBC would have a Panorama programme to probe the practice. But this is religious so nothing is said. Not from politicians, media, other religious leaders. And the child abuse continues. The abusers not just not held to account but held up, by the likes of Sachs, as figures of approval.

  9. Samuel says:

    Sacks completely fails to acknowledge that vaccination, education and learning a language are of clear benefits to the infant, by preventing diseases and infections, allowing children to develop to their potential and by enabling the growing child to communicate with other humans.

    Circumcision provides no benefit except that it conforms to a particular communities (both Muslims and Jews undertake this ritual) social customs. Unlike vaccination, education and communication which provide clear concrete benefits.

  10. linda says:

    This is a child protection issue and it is about time that Social Workers stopped sitting on the fence and joined the international campaign to protect children from people who want to cut off parts of children’s genitals for religious or cultural reasons. Why are Social Services not involved in protecting these children when some are dying? Social services are involved in protecting little girls from cutters, why not the boys? How many more children in Britain and Ireland are going to have to die from male circumcision before someone wakes up and says we must protect Jewish and Muslim male children from circumcisers, not to do so is to be guilty of racism and sexism.

  11. John Dalton says:

    It is a defence to libel that the facts of the publication are true. Since Rabbi Sacks would presumably not deny that children are being wounded in this vile practice, the facts of the publication are true. As such it ill behoves him to assert that there is a blood libel.

    Teaching children to speak German, sending them to school and vaccinating them against illness all differ from circumcision in that they do not deprive the child permanently of a normal healthy body part.

    A child mutilation ritual which predates the Hippocratic Oath, the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 and the European Convention on Human Rights needs to be reexamined against modern standards.

    Europe in the 21st century must not be a place where filthy old men can get away with wounding a child on the genitals.

  12. remigius says:

    The Chief Rabbit just doesn’t get it. Teaching kids to speak, educating them, and vaccinating them against disease, are all beneficial.

    Hacking off parts of their genitalia isn’t.

  13. Ryan morrigan says:

    I feel bad for all those people in prison who are only there because they didn’t have the right excuse. You mutilate children? It’s okay because it’s religion! You suck on babies’ penises? It’s okay because it’s religion! You mentally abuse children by telling them they’re going to burn in fire forever if they don’t believe in your ghost stories? It’s okay because it’s RELIGION!!!

  14. AgentCormac says:

    Now the muslims are up in arms about it too.

    Apparently the ruling is ‘an affront’ to both muslim and Jewish ‘basic religious and human rights’. (No mention of the babies’ rights, you notice.)

    They also mewl that “Circumcision is an ancient ritual that is fundamental to our individual faiths and we protest in the strongest possible terms against this court ruling.” The fact that it’s archaic and based on superstition would hardly seem to me to be grounds to continue with such a barbaric practice. But, hey, what do I know? I haven’t got an invisible friend to tell me what’s right and wrong.

  15. James Loewen says:

    Every child has a basic human right to the body they were born with. Genital cutting of children is abuse. Religion is not an excuse for child abuse.

  16. john.c says:

    I get sick of the ancient tradition excuse, throwing christians to the lions was an ancient tradition,they managed to stop that one.

  17. remigius says:

    James Loewen. Not in law though. Most children are protected by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

    Only two countries have refused to ratify it. Somalia and the USA!

  18. JohnMWhite says:

    Well, it was bound to happen. German authorities telling Jews they cannot continue a cultural practice? Obviously somebody would kick up a fuss – but again, religion demonstrates its incredible capacity to dull any sense of compassion and sharpen any sense of insult, as we have grown and supposedly learned adults screaming about not being allowed to cut body parts off infants and suck the blood out of their penis. They have chosen what side they want to be on, and it is the side that is morally bankrupt, vicious, and cruel.

  19. Broga says:

    I don’t suppose Rowan Williams, now freed up a bit on leaving office, would have a view on this barbarity. Maybe a speech from one of the expense lusting bishops in the House of Lords? Or would it be bad form to criticise another religion? The RC’s with their record on child abuse will have to keep shtum. So much for the “Suffer little children” the christians bleat about unless, of course, suffer means torture.

    Its amazing, isn’t it, that infants screaming in agony, are ignored because to speak up would offend the superstitionists who cleave to their barbaric and anachronistic traditions. This is sick and foul and disgraces any country that permits it. And that means us.

  20. David Anderson says:

    Now let’s see. I was born in London in 1949. For some strange reason I learned how to speak English, (no cockney jokes please), I was sent to school and like most children of my era, I was vaccinated against everything under the sun. All of these things helped to ensure my survival.
    As I now live in Spain, according to Sacks, I could now say that my parents abused me because they didn’t teach me Spanish.
    Sacks is an imbecile, always was and always will be.

  21. Sabbag says:

    Four words for Sachs any other apologists for this barbaric custom: Ritualised. Child. Sex. Abuse.

  22. Stonyground says:

    By what bizarre Rabbi logic does he manage to compare this ruling with the Blood Libel?
    This was a collection of malicious lies that Christians used to spread about Jews. Lies about them sacrificing Christian babies and using their blood to bake unleavened bread to be used in their religious rituals.

    The accusation that Jews mutilate babies, often incompetently so that they die, is true. In order for it to qualify as libel, it has to be, you know, not true.

    Still, Sacks is so witless that he thinks that Moses did a write up of his own funeral so we can’t expect too much.

  23. Daz says:

    Yep, if you can’t defend it, spin opposition to it as racism, anti-Semitism or some other sort of ism. Sadly, it’ll probably work, to some degree, too.

  24. Angela_K says:

    I’m surprised Sacks didn’t wail “remember the holocaust” the usual cry to close down any criticism of Judaism.

  25. Joseph4GI says:

    You mean the hemorrhage complications on which this court ruling was based, didn’t happen?

    I suppose he wants to then claim that the “libel case” involved a Jewish, and not Muslim boy next…

  26. Carol says:

    There is an immense of amount of cultural bias involved when it comes to this issue, and that makes sense considering boys and men have to reconcile the fact that they do not have all of their sexual organ that they were born with and that it was their parents (the two people entrusted to care MOST for us) who took it away. Plus the psychology of the parents who allow this to happen, the doctors who perform it, etc…. It’s what is to be expected considering.

    The foreskin is yet another example of how incredibly amazing our bodies are. The problem in this society is not many have the opportunity to realize this. Close your eyes and lightly touch/tickle the back of your other hand. Nice, eh? Now do the same on your palm side. Those are the fine-touch nerve receptors that a foreskin has, and a guarantee you it makes sex better for the man. Not only is this simple logic, but it fits with my experiences as well. There is an obvious difference in sex with a circumcised man vs an intact one. And from the woman’s point of view it makes a difference as well; I’ve been with enough to know the difference. With circ’ed men I’ve had one orgasm. With intact I’ve orgasmed 90% of the time and had simultaneous orgasms about 5% of the time. Any doctor that circumcises my son is going to pay, dearly (my maternal instinct says to kill him. If we all didn’t have the cultural blinders on then everyone would feel this way, just as we already do about the idea of circumcising our daughters.

    I dare anyone to produce the scientific paper that demonstrates the health benefits of circumcision. I assure you, all you will be able to produce are the horrendously flawed “trials” in Africa which are nothing more than statistics with correlative hypothesis which cannot be produced in other African countries, not even in countries of the west like the US.

    The CDC has its head buried in the sand and can’t see its own cultural blinders.

    Even given the “science,” it is unethical to mutilate the genitals of a child because we assume he is going to be a promiscuous man who won’t ever learn to use a condom, which, even given the science, would supersede circumcision. It is not only a health issue, it is a human rights issue, and whether or not a part of his penis is going to be removed should be that man’s choice.

    But let’s scratch deeper underneath the surface; you’re not interested in public health, you’re interested in CIRCUMCISION, because you are JEWISH and circumcision is an holy covenant with YOUR GOD you must defend at all costs, even if you have to feign an interest in public health.

    SHAME on you.

  27. RussellW says:

    Angela K,

    Yes, he was relatively restrained, particularly when the judgement came from a German court.
    Don’t mention the war?

    “Remember the Holocaust”!— Jews were not the only victims of the Nazis, they weren’t the most numerous either and some victims have been almost forgotten, like the Roma.

  28. Buffy says:

    Sorry, you’re not being persecuted because you can’t mutilate innocent infants.

  29. Trevor Blake says:

    It is hard to think of a more appalling decision.

    Perhaps cutting off part of a baby’s penis, sucking blood from the wound, infecting the child with a fatal disease, the child dying, and the state doing nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing about it… perhaps a wee bit more appalling?

    Did the court know that circumcision is the most ancient ritual in the history of Judaism, dating back almost four thousand years to the days of Abraham?

    Did the court know that slavery is an ancient ritual in the history of Judaism, dating back almost four thousand years to the days of Abraham? When G_d commanded Abraham to circumcise his slaves (Genesis 17:13, 23, 27) then that’s what Abraham did. Circumcision as a mark of slavery – hooray for ancient rituals! G_d must have been pleased with Abraham, as the reward for circumcising his slaves was… more slaves! (Genesis 24:355).

    I always get confused as to which of G_d’s immutable and unchanging laws are no longer in effect. Please help me out, Rabbi Sacks. It seems to me that mutilating babies and owning slaves are morally wrong. Can you help me understand my mistake?

  30. Frank Li says:

    If banning a barbaric practice is considered by Mr. Sacks, then… no one gives a fuck.

  31. Patrick Smyth says:

    Long before the debate in respect of the non-essential circumcision of infant boys recently escalated, I had a fairly dim view of the collective intelligence of much of the human race. Such fulminations as those by Sacks and other religious bigots now leave me in no doubt that there are millions of ostensibly civilised people freely roaming this world who are actually a menace to society.

  32. stokebruernehuman says:

    Is anyone surprised by this outrageous outburst by the rabid rabbi?

    I was cut at a very young age and I can tell you that I have carried that scar with shame ever since it was inflicted upon me.

    Its a horrible thing to do to a child especially when done in the name of a primitive, divisive religion. It is nothing less than branding the flesh. Sick beyond my comprehension.

  33. Matt Westwood says:

    If he’s so all-fired indignant about his stoopid religion being dissed, then where’s his silly little hat?

  34. Matt Westwood says:

    Oh, and Carol – you bring a smug, self-satisfied smile to this proudly uncut old man.

  35. Broga says:

    @Patrick Smyth: I have a very dim view of the most destructive pests on the planet i.e. ourselves. There were 45,000 attendees at the recent Rio Environmental summit, most on freebies, and they achieved zilch. Meanwhile, as the population grows, the seas are emptied, the forests razed, species daily becoming extinct, millions starve, the air becomes unbreathable and global warming continues we have the concerns of our supposed moral guides: the religious.

    And what are they concerned about: being allowed to continue to mutilate babies, the private sexual practices of other people, the securing of their own privileges, the state funding of their own indoctrination centres (faith schools), their unelected bishops being allowed to influence legislation and the censorship of any views with which the disagree.

    Rome really is burning and we are all fiddling.

  36. Broga says:

    Sorry: I think that 45,000 should have been 4,500.

  37. Sabbag says:

    Seems like the German government is looking to over turn or circumvent the ruling….what a crazy, f#cked up world we live in, where the health and safety of babies is sacrificed in the name of their parents groundless fantasies…very depressing.

  38. barriejohn says:

    I’m not quite sure what to make of this update to the story:

    Cameron is now promising to pass a law making it legal for Christians to wear crosses at work (yes – really!). I am reminded of Nikita Kruschev’s hilarious remark that politicians promise to build a bridge even when there’s no river!!

  39. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    @barriejohn: Re Cameron and cross’s, even George Pitcher thinks he’s wrong!

  40. barriejohn says:

    I sent that one to Barry earlier, Graham, which was why I didn’t post the link! I could hardly believe it.

  41. Robster says:

    Is the person complaining about circumcision falling off its perch really called Rabbi Jonathan Sacks? (Be even better if his name was Dick) that’s gotta be a joke, a good joke maybe but still a joke.

  42. Ken says:

    Carol – “Any doctor that circumcises my son is going to pay, dearly (my maternal instinct says to kill him. If we all didn’t have the cultural blinders on then everyone would feel this way, …”

    God commanded circumcision for the OT Jews, and also commanded them ‘not to kill/commit murder’. It struck me as strange that you have reversed the priority, and that a relatively minor surgical procedure that may or may not lead to less satisfactory sex is equal to the value of a man’s life.

  43. Matt Westwood says:

    Not often I agree with what the Mail writes, but I draw your attention to this piec:

    “These people are encouraged, in their innocence, by over-enthusiastic Christian lawyers and busy-body bishops, who all too readily claim that they are the victims of ‘persecution’, which diminishes and insults real victims of religious persecution, from Pakistan to the Sudan.”

    Religion is bad enough, but religious persecution is worse IMO, and I would stand shoulder-to-shoulder with victims of it *True* victims of it, of course, not these sham losers with their fake martyr complexes.

  44. Matt Westwood says:

    @Ken: “God commanded circumcision for the OT Jews, and also commanded them ‘not to kill/commit murder’. It struck me as strange that you have reversed the priority, and that a relatively minor surgical procedure that may or may not lead to less satisfactory sex is equal to the value of a man’s life.”

    The point is that any man/woman who deliberately mutilates a baby for no reason other than his/her own personal whim does not deserve to have been given a life in the first place. Some lives deserve to be ended as nastily, painfully and brutally as possible.

  45. […] GERMAN lawmakers have passed a cross-party motion to protect religious circumcision, after a regional court ruled it amounted to bodily harm. […]