Wednesday, June 27, 2012

GERMANY: Predictible outrage at legal ruling

the Times of Israel
June 26, 2012

Outraged German Jews slam court for prohibiting circumcision

Community president says ruling marks 'unprecedented and dramatic interference,' calls on Bundestag to ensure religious freedom
By Raphael Ahren
The Central Council of Jews in Germany on Tuesday slammed the “outrageous and insensitive” decision of a regional court to prohibit circumcisions, calling upon the German parliament to pass a law that safeguards freedom of religion. [Beware what you wish for! A law that safeguards individual freedom of religion would certainly outlaw infant circumcision.]
The District Court of Cologne court ruled earlier this week that parents having their sons circumcised can be brought before a judge for causing bodily injury, even if they did so for religious reasons. The ruling means that neither the rights of parents nor the constitutional freedom of religion can justify acts such as circumcision, according to Financial Times Deutschland, which first reported the story.

In a statement released Tuesday, the German Jewish community’s Central Council called the court’s ruling an “unprecedented and dramatic interference in the right of self-determination of religious communities.” [... and an unprecedented and dramatic extension of the right of self-determination of defenceless individuals.]
“This judgement is outrageous and insensitive,” said the Council’s president, Dieter Graumann. “The circumcision of newborn boys is an inherent part of the Jewish religion and has been performed for millennia across the world. In every country in the world this religious right is being respected.”
The Council further called upon the German Bundestag to “create legal protection and thus safeguard freedom of religion from such attacks.”

Opponents of circumcision, meanwhile, welcomed the court’s ruling.

“As opposed to many politicians, the court was not deterred by fears of being criticized for anti-Semitism or hostility toward religion,” University of Passau jurist Holm Putzke told the FTD. “This decision could not only influence future jurisdiction, it could also lead the relevant religions to change their attitude with respect to the fundamental nature of children’s rights.”


Legal experts told the German newspaper they assume that other courts in Germany could rule along similar lines in further cases and that the question of religiously motivated circumcisions will end up in the country’s Supreme Court.


Earlier story


  1. The Germans need to point out very quickly that this has nothing to with Jews in particular (indeed, there are many more Muslims in Germany who will feel affected by this ruling); this is a question of the general human rights of all people.

    It's going to be tough keeping the "anti-Semitism" canard out of the media.

  2. The antisemitism canard is always raised at any attempt to prevent circumcision of minors. This does not mean that all Jews support what mainstream Jewish groups say. Here is a Jewish site discussing circumcision:

    Over time, claiming antisemitism will be reduced to meaningless propaganda, like swearing at someone. This is quite unfortunate, but inevitable.

    It is probably a mistake to make claims that this has nothing to do with Jews. It is probably best to say nothing at all over who this does or does not have to do with and to stick with the legal ruling - that a child's right to bodily integrity was more important than a parent's right to raise their children as they see fit.

    Those who support circumcision will hopefully have to wait until they are 18.

  3. final decision:

    1. I'm reading a book on the history of Quakers and slavery. While Quakers are well known for their anti-slavery work, at one time Quakers in Pennsylvania owned per capita more slaves than the general population. The process of becoming anti-slavery required a number of Quakers to be expelled and a few Quakers to die of old age. Even further, a little before the American Civil War Quakers who were strongly opposed to slavery split off and formed separate groups over the issue of Quakers effectively doing very little to oppose slavery.

      It is extremely difficult for me to understand too - circumcision is not a complicated issue, and yet when it comes to basic human rights this blindness occurs over and over.

      Just keep looking the other way and pretend like the hemorrhage just "didn't happen" and keep letting these cases continue?

      Why yes, I think that is exactly what is wanted. Interestingly, another theme I picked from the book is the idea that in order to make these type of changes it is important to challenge - over and over and over - and not let up. It is also important to be super polite, but not compromising. (I really have trouble with the super polite bit.)

  4. I'm not sure I understand the "outrage."

    What was Germany supposed to do?

    Just keep looking the other way and pretend like the hemorrhage just "didn't happen" and keep letting these cases continue?

    The self-serving nerve of these groups.