In June, a court in Cologne, Germany ruled that circumcision is “irreversible interference in the integrity of the human body.” In August, criminal charges were filed against Rabbi David Goldberg from the German city of Hof for performing a circumcision, which the charges termed as “bodily harm” to a child. It is hard to believe that these events occurred in the summer of 2012, and not the summer of 1933.
Germany and prohibitions on Jews are symbols that trigger shudders and discomfort in all Jews. A fundamental characteristic of anti-Semitism is the flexibility and creativity of anti-Semitic claims. Anti-Semitism frequently changes its clothes and every generation invents its own excuse for it. Once it was because we were one people (Exodus); or because we were scattered (Book of Esther); or because we were descendants of lepers (Apion); or because we were monotheists (forced conversions); or because we were a special race (Titus); or because we were the offspring of the Devil (Gospel of John); or because we killed Christ (the Catholic Church), and another time because we did not accept Christ (expulsion from Spain). One time we were guilty of being nationalists, another time we were guilty of being cosmopolitan. Once because we were communists and another time because we were capitalists.
Contemporary anti-Semitism has become even more sophisticated. It simply replaces Jews with the State of Israel. Nobody thought to abolish Germany as a country, even after two world wars and tens of millions of deaths. But there is a delegitimization phenomenon that seeks to deny, coincidentally of course, only the Jewish people of their right to a sovereign nation. This is one of modern anti-Semitism’s outfits of disguise — venomous and crazy criticism against Israel. But we have already become accustomed to this. No one gets excited by another U.N. vote, where there is an automatic anti-Semitic majority against Israel.
Our habituation toward anti-Semitism, covered by “legitimate” criticism of the existence of Israel, has become one of silence. And silence is bad. When we do not protest injustice due to the sense that there is no point in doing so, the old anti-Semitism of hating Jews just because they are Jews slowly raises its head. The pretext in the Germany of 2012 against circumcision is bodily integrity, enlightenment and secularism. These are lofty, wonderful words. After all, excuses for anti-Israel hatred have never been lacking.
How did German Jews respond to Jews from Israel, Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger for example, who expressed outrage about the injustice? “Israel doesn’t need to teach Germany how to deal with the matter,” a German Jewish leader said. “The involvement of Israeli officials is not helpful.”
Once again bowing at the feet of Polish noblemen. Once again sending grovelling letters to the dear chancellor saying “Please kindly let Jews live as Jews.” What exile wretchedness.
The very fact that in the enlightened and democratic Europe of 2012 Jews are again being forced to fight for their rights to live as Jews should set off red warning lights for every Jew living in the Diaspora.
Jews — immigrate to Israel. We do not promise you anything except Jewish sovereignty, which means an independent responsibility to manage the affairs of the Jewish people and an uncompromising and united struggle against all those who seek to destroy us.
This post first appeared in Israel Hayom.