THE former Head of Child Surgery at Copenhagen’s largest hospital has accused the Danish chief Rabbi of lying about the dangers of circumcision.
According to Glen Poole’s Ending Unnecessary Male Circumcision in the UK blog, in a startling interview on Danish TV, the Danish Chief Rabbi, Bent Lexner, claimed that he’d overseen the circumcision of around 1,000 male infant over 40 years and that there hadn’t been a single complication.
But one of Denmark’s leading pediatricians, Dr Preben Kirkegaard, says he has seen several cases every year of baby boys with circumcision complications – including life-threatening conditions – and says some of these were carried out by the Chief Rabbi who claims there had never been a problem.
Even without Dr Kirkegaard’s powerful testimony, the claim that there has never been a complication is surprising as all surgery carries risk – even circumcisions carried out by skilled surgeons in medical settings.
The TV feature also carries an interview with Kjeld Koplev a Danish radio journalist who was born into a Jewish family and circumcised as a baby who says:
It is torture and mutilation of male infants. Why should a Rabbi who doesn’t have a medical education be allowed to do that?
Coincidentally, the interview took place at around the same time that I received a letter from a correspondent in Scotland, robustly defending circumcision. He himself had been circumcised as an infant, and he declared:
Of all the things for which I thank my parents, the greatest is my circumcised organ.
What really amazed me about the letter was the writer’s assertion that:
In recent conflicts in the Middle East the largest number of non-combat related hospital admissions of Western troops has been due to sand in the foreskin.
What!? Could this possibly be true? Well, this begged to be investigated, and I quickly discovered that this is pure myth – and one that goes back decades.
According to this report, during and after World War Two, a very common reason for circumcising in Australia and New Zealand was:
He might have to fight in the desert. He could get an infection under his foreskin and have to be circumcised then. Better to do it now.
Some pro-circumcisionists have gone so far as to claim that men of the Germans’ Afrika Korps were circumcised for the same reason. Not many members survive, but one living person is in a good position to know: Manfred Rommel, 84, the son of Field-Marshal Erwin Rommel, “the Desert Fox”.
He was 14 in October 1944 when his father was forced to take poison for plotting against Hitler. The retired German politician has been in touch with his father’s former troops throughout his life, and in 2002 wrote from his home in Stuttgart:
I have never heard that soldiers of the Africa Corps were circumcised. The veterans I could contact have not either.
And in an article, entitled The Riddle of the Sands: Circumcision, History, and Myth written by Robert Darby for the New Zealand Medical Journal in July, 2005:
None of the ancient cultures which practised circumcision have traditionally claimed that the ritual was introduced as a sanitary measure. African tribes, Arabs, Jews, Moslems, and Australian Aboriginals explain it different ways, but divine command, tribal identification, social role, family obligation, respect for ancestors, and promotion of self control figure prominently.
Jewish authorities make no mention of hygiene, let alone sand, but place stress on the religious significance of circumcision: it is an outward sign of the Covenant between God and his people. The Kaguru of central Tanzania explain circumcision (practised at puberty on both boys and girls) in terms of enhancing gender differentiation and social control. They consider the uncircumcised penis unclean because its moistness makes men resemble women, whose wet and regularly bleeding genitals are considered polluting.
Hat tip: Glen Poole