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Pro-Circumcision Rally Held in Berlin, German Activists Seek a “Fantasy Israel with no Judaism”

September 12, 2012 9:44 pm 4 comments

The protest in Germany. Photo: tagesspiegel.de.

On Sunday, September 9, 2012, the first ever pro-circumcision and Jewish (and Muslim) life rally in Germany, was held in Berlin. In May 2012 a Cologne court ruled against a Muslim circumcision and generalized that the rights of children are threatened by every single circumcision, regardless at what age it is made.

This is probably the most hardcore attack by a first world country against the practice of Brit Milah and Jewish life  in recent decades. Jews and Muslims are extremely irritated, sad, and frightened.

At the event, in downtown Berlin, one of the rabbis openly said that circumcision, the Brit Milah, is seen by Jews as a connection with god, and is among the observances that almost all Jews, regardless if they are true believers, orthodox, liberal, agnostic, non-believing, atheist or whatever, practice. At the rally he said that over 90% of Israeli male Jews are circumcised and that it is an essential part of Israeli and Jewish identity.
Interestingly, the German activists behind the anti-circumcision fervor, actually believe they are being seen as pro-Israel, but their Israel is a fantasy Israel with no Judaism.

Some 300 people joined the rally, orthodox rabbi Yitzchak Ehrenberg as well as liberal Rabbi Tovia Ben-Chorin spoke, united on the podium. The event was organized by the Berlin based Forum for Democracy and against Antisemitism (JFDA), lead by former head of the Jewish Community of Berlin, Lala Süsskind, and her colleague Levi Salomon. They are both known for their tireless efforts to fight against all forms of anti-Semitism.
A few weeks ago, they organized another rally against the anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic al-Quds day, an Iranian propaganda event to denounce Israel and its capital, Jerusalem. At the rally to protect circumcision, the head of the (liberal) Turkish Community in Germany, Kenan Kolat, spoke as well in support of the Jewish fight against the anti-circumcision climate in Germany. A young German-Turkish actor gave his first speech ever, because he was so upset about the discussion in Germany.
Earlier, organizations like the Giordano-Bruno Foundation (known for their work against Islamism, too) announced that they are going to launch a campaign later this month to attack circumcision and to fight for the “rights of children,” and against the decision-making of parents vis-à-vis the Brit Milah. Jews are accused of abusing children, in effect, if not intent. This is a new form of blood libel, framed in nice German words, always suggesting that Germans love children. In fact many Germans hate Jews and Judaism and some do not like children either. These worrying developments provided the backdrop for the important rally.
Several Israeli flags were displayed at the event, too. However, compared with a rally just a week ago prompted by an anti-Semitic attack against a rabbi on the streets of Berlin by (according to eye-witnesses) German-Arab-Muslim youngsters, where some 1500 people, many Christians among them, showed up, the 300 people were a small group.

The very same Christians and liberal Germans who always love to pretend to be open-minded and pro-Jewish, dislike Judaism as soon as it comes to circumcision. The political elite in Germany did not show up at the event, with the exception of one social democratic Member of Parliament, who did not join the rally in his political function as vice President of the German Bundestag, rather as an individual. This speaks volumes.

In recent weeks there has been a huge debate over circumcision in many parts of German society. Right-wing extremists like those writing for the website Politically Incorrect (known for its support of groups like the party Die Freiheit, the Bürgerbewegung Pax Europa, the so called Pro-Germany movement and the campaign “Stop the left” or “Linkstrend stoppen”) said that Jews will not have a place in Germany if they keep on practicing circumcision. 600 mainstream doctors and others published a letter in leading conservative daily, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, arguing against circumcision. Others, like marginal left-winger and NGO-activist (in Iraq and the Middle East) Thomas von der Osten-Sacken, equated Brith Milah more or less with female genital mutilation (FGM). They’ve lost perspective and run riot.

It is also interesting to note that the very same people who have opposed the anti-Zionist Judith Butler, who will be awarded the prestigious Adorno-Prize on September 11, 2012, in the city of Frankfurt, now attack Judaism and the Brit Milah. Their opposition to anti-Zionism contradicts their anti-Jewish feelings (framed as pro-child ideology).

A tiny journal in Berlin, called Bahamas, closely related to the publishing house ça ira,  has pretended to be pro-Israel in recent years. They publish articles against Islamism, anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel. However, they urged their readers and followers in a short statement on September 4 not to join the pro-circumcision rally because they detest “religious traditions.”

They support Israel but have an Israel in mind without circumcised Jews. Maybe they just want a female Israel with a few un-circumcised gentiles?

The Bahamas journal is not favored by Anti-Zionist Germans and the German state. However, self-declared friends of Israel seem to like the publication, despite its urging of  its followers not to join a Jewish (and Muslim) rally to protect Judaism, Jewish tradition and circumcision. Bahamas was not just silent about the pro-circumcision rally. They were so outraged about  this Jewish practice that they urged their “friends of Israel” not to participate in the event. Non-Jewish Germans explaining what it really means to be pro-Israel. That’s fun.

4 Comments

  • Julian Clovelley

    If it were an ancient custom to remove one ear, or the tip of a baby’s nose – or chop the tip off one toe – or brand them on the buttocks – we would regard it as a silly and barbaric custom that really needed to be abolished. We would recognise that is the babies rights that are being violated.

    Religious people are the slowest of learners. The circumcision became a death sentence for many during the Holocaust by creating a readily identifiable clue to a person’s identity as a Jew. I don’t think anyone has the right to place a child in such a situation. It should be their own decision later in life. Circumcision even endangered those righteous who sought to save the lives of Jews and compassionately sheltered them. You should not do that to people. Some Jews continued the identifying practice even as Jews were being conveyed to the death camps.

    Christianity opposed circumcision – so far as we can tell – as early as the first century. Christianity is itself a Jewish religion that spread into the Gentile world. Abandonment of circumcision was a de facto recognition that there is neither Jew nor Gentlie – we are all the same. These Jews then got over it in less than a generation.

    Two thousand years later our blood is totally intermixed. Judaism is a religion more than a race. Some would argue it isn’t a “race” at all. So why create an artificial distinction with a knife? Identification is one of the portals through which Genocide passes

    The move against circumcision is not a move against the operation per se – it is a denial of the totally imagined right of anyone to impose it on a child. It is a form of mutilation – worse still when it is practised on a girl.

    We all have to grow up sometimes – stepping away from the more rdiculous elements of superstitious practice. Much of what is wrong with Islam in practice comes from clinging to its eighth century manifestation and even intensifying one interpretation of that form. Antisemitism embedded into Christianity two thousand years ago, fires the racism of later centuries, and of the present.

    And the same applies to Judaism. The ancient customs belong to the past. In moving forward reconciliation is given a greater chance. Christian Fundamentalism and Islamic Fundamentalism are closely connected and inspire each other. The whole spectrum of religion needs to wake up to itself and grow up – otherwise it is nothin more than a millstone round the neck of humanity.

    And is this just a non-Jewish view – well ask yourself just how many Jews are now secular – let alone the millions of assimilated Jews in the past. the percentage should give you a very broad hint

  • Kai from Berlin

    In this article Mr Heni states that “self-declared friends of Israel” are “behind the anti-circumcision fervor” in Germany. That’s plain wrong and grossly missleading to an american audience.

    There has been a lenghty discussion in the german mainstream newspapers about this circumcision issue, and in fact a very quick response by Chancellor Merkel in favor of circumcision. Further it was scheduled very quickly that the parliament shall pass a law which resolves the conflict in the law by expicitly allowing circumcision.

    It seems clear to me that there is a strong desire by the german government to get this done very quickly because they fear of being accused of antisemitism internationally and that would be very bad PR for a german government.

    Among the activists that Mr Heni accuses of seeking a “fantasy Israel with no Judaism” the opinions about this debate seemed in fact to been very divided.
    Thomas von der Osten-Sacken seems to be very sceptical about circumcision, but he never equated it to FGM and in fact wrote exactly the opposite various times.
    The Bahamas magazine wrote related to the demonstration that they oppose the idea of forming a coalition with muslim groups just a few days after there was a big scandal about a Rabbi being attacked and his little daughter threatened with death by muslim thugs in Berlin.

    However sceptical these people might be especially towards the muslim version of circumsition, none of them called for a ban on cirumsition and it reads very strange for anyone who knows about the marginal position of these groups in germany when Mr Heni accuses them of being “behind the anti-circumcision fervor”.

    The sad thing is that the statements of Mr Heni are most probably motivated by him being harshly critisized from these people on various occasions in the past.

  • Can they go over seas for the Brit and come back right after?

  • If German Jews do not move to Israel, they may end up moving back to Russia, where Putin has said he will put no restrictions on Brit Mila or shechitah.

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