German Circumcision Ban Rooted in Anti-Semitism?

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- In a ruling that should give Jews in Germany pause, the District Court of Cologne outlawed circumcision. The court further stated that parents don't have the right to impose their faith on a child.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center told CBN News, "There's not a snowball's chance in h-- the Jewish people would ever look to a German court, especially when it comes to how we should define our values or fulfill our traditions."

"The declaration of one person in a German court will have zero impact on the Jewish people who have been filling the commandment of brit milah (the covenant of circumcision) since the time of Abraham," Rabbi Cooper said. "The judge should have found another way without declaring that circumcision is illegal. His ruling is illegal."

A spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry told CBN News they were not ready to comment yet because they don't know how binding the ruling is since it's only a district court.

The ruling followed a botched circumcision by a Muslim doctor on a 4-year-old boy. The court ruled that circumcision constitutes physical "damage" to children and therefore could not be protected under freedom of religion.

Muslims also practice male circumcision though not necessarily during infancy, with some also advocating female circumcision.

Germany's Jewish community leaders called the ruling "outrageous and insensitive."

In Judaism, brit milah has been practiced for millennia. It is based on God's commandment to Abraham and initiates the newborn into the faith of his forefathers. The procedure takes place when a male child is eight days old, the day when the infant's potassium level, which helps blood to clot, peaks, medical researchers later discovered.

This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations … And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant. (Gen. 17:10-14)

The ruling by Cologne's district court is not the first evidence of anti-Semitic leanings in the city.

The Jerusalem Post reports that in 2010, Cologne's public prosecutor dismissed a petition against a cartoon depicting a man with a Star of David eating a Palestinian child using a fork draped in an American flag, a knife with the word "Gaza" etched on it, and a glass filled with blood next to the plate.

The prosecutor ruled the cartoon did not qualify as anti-Semitic because it didn't fulfill the criteria of incitement to hatred.

Germany is not alone in the attempt to ban ritual circumcision. Sweden, Norway, Holland, and Finland, as well as two groups in California, have also tried.

In 2011, a group in San Francisco gathered 12,000 signatures in support of a measure outlawing male circumcision under the age of 18 regardless of a family's religion. But a judge in California ruled the ordinance would infringe on religious freedom and it was removed from the ballot. Gov. Jerry Brown later signed a bill preventing future such attempts by local authorities.

Rabbi Cooper says all of it comes from the same root.

"Whether it's a court in Germany or an elitist group of politicians in Norway or activists in San Francisco trying to protect the health of American youngsters, it all goes back to the same root," he said.

"The Jewish people's commitment to brit milah outlived Stalin, Hitler and all the other tyrants who understood the importance of brit milah to the Jewish people. In the former Soviet Union, Jews put their lives on the line in order to get a brit milah," the rabbi said.

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Tzippe Barrow

Tzippe Barrow

CBN News Internet Producer - Jerusalem

From her perch high atop the mountains surrounding Jerusalem, Tzippe Barrow helps provide a bird’s eye view of events unfolding in her country.

She and her husband made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) several years ago. Barrow hopes that providing a biblical perspective of today’s events in Israel will help people in the nations to better understand the centrality of this state and the Jewish people to God’s unfolding plan of redemption for all mankind.