Banning Circumcision is Simply Banning Judaism (Guest Voice)

Banning Circumcision is Simply Banning Judaism
by Yaakov Kirschen

A bill to ban circumcision of all males under the age of 18 will be on the ballot in San Francisco this November. This is alarming because circumcision of all males is the single most basic ritual of Judaism. Banning circumcision is a direct attack on the practice of Judaism, even if it is presented as having other motives. In fact, history shows us that viral anti-Semitism always comes to town in disguise, usually portraying its motives as a need to protect innocent victims from demonic Jews.

In the past, violent lynch mob pogrom attacks on Jews and Judaism were launched to protect the peasants and townsfolk from Jews who had “poisoned the wells.” The Nazis were just trying to protect racial purity. More recently, Jew-hatred has been packaged as an attempt to protect the “Palestinian” natives from the evil colonialist Jewish State, and now, in 21st century California, the attack on Judaism is being promoted as protecting Jewish babies from their demonic Jewish parents.

A second characteristic of the behavioral virus we call anti-Semitism is its compulsive use of cartoons in spreading its libels. Anti-Semitic movements from Nazism to Fascism to Stalinism to contemporary Islamism all share a surprisingly intensive use of anti-Semitic cartoons in their campaigns. And so it is with the framers of the anti-circumcision bill.

The bill was written by a private non-profit organization based in San Diego, California with chapters in sixteen states. It is led by someone named Matthew Hess. Their goal is a nation-wide ban on the practice of circumcision and, sure enough, Matthew just could not resist the compulsion to draw those standard Nazi blood-libel caricatures of fiendish Rabbis sacrificing innocent babies. Hess, to push his campaign for the anti-circumcision bill, wrote and edited a propagandizing comic book called Foreskinman. The work is incredibly rich in Nazi ideology and filled with vile anti-Semitic imagery. The shockingly blatant anti-Semitism of the piece was so obvious that, in response, the woman who had been a proponent of putting the same bill onto the ballot in Santa Monica has now withdrawn the measure from consideration.

The comic book stars a blond, Aryan-looking superhero that interrupts a circumcision ceremony, beats up the fiendish, grinning Rabbi (named Monster Mohel), thrashes the Rabbi’s machine gun-toting Jewish accomplices, and takes the Jewish baby from his Jewish father. The child’s father shouts “Give me back my son” but our Nordic hero flies the terrified baby off to safety.

The baby, now rescued from the Jews, is taken on a two-day trip to a group of beach-dwelling pagans and given to them. As the pagan woman who has been given the stolen Jewish baby announces at the end of this touching saga, she is now free to “raise him as one of our own.”

The history of the attempts to destroy Judaism is punctuated with anti-circumcision laws. In 167 BCE the Syrian Greek occupiers of the Land of Israel banned circumcision. A few hundred years after that the Romans occupiers of the Land of Israel banned circumcision in their attempt to destroy Judaism. The Nazis banned circumcision, as did the Stalinists. Banning circumcision is simply a synonym for banning Judaism.

And while we’re at it, here’s a question for you. Why does the Christian calendar start on Jan. 1? Shouldn’t the Christian calendar start on Dec. 25?: the day of Jesus’ birth? What made Jan. 1 so important? It’s simple. Jan. 1 (when baby Jesus was 8 days old) was the day of his circumcision.

©2011Yaakov Kirschen. This column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate and is licensed to run on TMV in full. Yaakov is an internationally syndicated editorial cartoonist, political analyst, blogger, and popular speaker. His “Dry Bones” cartoons have commented on the Middle East and the World since 1973. He may be reached at


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  1. No, Professor, in a nanny state you wouldn’t be able to get rid of your own foreskin. Or you’d be required to, depending on Nanny’s mood. In my libertarian utopia, we would at least have qualms about people lopping off other people’s without their say-so. We would reject your reasoning that because you don’t consider the harm significant, the owner won’t either.

    I don’t see enough qualms today. Practically speaking, the way to inspire some is to for some activists to take a perhaps-over-strong stand on it. They probably won’t prevail, at least not very widely, but they may shift some opinions.

    Outlawing the practice in a 47 square mile patch of land, at least until the courts overturn the law, might open up more choices elsewhere. I predict Judaism will survive, just as marriage survived when San Francisco started letting gays marry, despite apocalyptic predictions like those in the OP.

    Yes, I’m less accommodating of religious traditions than you are. Call it anti-religious if you like.

  2. Libertarianism is about limiting government control, which is the opposite of allowing parental control. The government is trying to institute a ban — if the parents want to, the government will try to stop them. Now you’re saying that a government ban on a issue that, by your own admission, has no compelling secular basis, is libertarian.

    Then, in the middle of covering principles you say, more or less, “come on, this is just a little evil, for the greater good”.

    Finally, you started by saying that the opposition wasn’t necessarily anti-religious, but then admit that you’re being anti-religious, again because you have no real secular backing.

    This is, by far, the most bizarre discussion that I’ve ever had with you.

  3. I’m sure you’d agree that libertarian principles permit government to keep parents from cutting bits off kids’ fingers. This case is the same principle, different body part.

    I understand your position that it’s a body part that doesn’t matter, that there’s no “compelling secular basis” for keeping it. But that point is disputed (and is not quite what I agreed to before, which was more about neither side being able to prove material harm). There is certainly a secular reason to keep it; how compelling it is is a matter of opinion, and

    Hey, that’s the fun of this site: opponents and allies change with the thread, or even half-way through the thread.

    And of course, people disagree over a lot of things, including how long people’s hair should be and what foods we eat, but the law has to go with material evidence (or in the case of public nudity, at least overwhelming cultural preference). There are far more compelling cases for preventing parents from smoking, watching over 1/2 hour of TV a day, or eating junk food. You again try to pull a false equivalence by using a piece of the finger, which would cause a disability, to something that doesn’t. Your web link was broken, so I’m not sure which page you were trying to point to, but they do the same thing by trying to equate male and female circumcision.

  4. You’re using a bunch of terms that I will of course take issue with. Losing sensation sounds like as much of a disability as losing a bit of a finger, so I’ll stand by my analogy. I don’t know what it means to “equate” male and female circumcision or why doing so would disqualify the opinions of those writing that site, so if you really believe you can get some mileage there, perhaps you can explain.

    As for the law having to go with material evidence, that sounds like a lovely idea. How exactly does that support your case?

  5. I’ll state it again: I don’t have to prove what’s great about it, the people banning it have to prove that there’s something wrong. They are the ones trying to create a new law to stop something that’s legal right now. They should be the ones that have to prove why it’s needed and what the benefits are supposed to be.

    I haven’t seen anything about loss of sensation that wasn’t just an assertion. How much loss? What are the effects? This all seems like pretty basic information that would needed to back their point, yet no one seems to even make the attempt.

  6. Dr. J, I haven’t ignored anyone’s opinion. I’ve said that Yaakov’s is an important one to listen to.

    Logan, I’m not sure what you think I said, but your comment doesn’t make any sense in context of any comment I’ve made, so I’m really not sure how to respond. If you think I implied I thought the Jewish population size in SF had anything to do with my opinions on this issue, it wasn’t intended at all. I think you must have misread.

  7. I don’t have to prove what’s great about it, the people banning it have to prove that there’s something wrong.

    Of course something is wrong, parts of people’s bodies are getting cut off without their consent. Or even a good reason.

  8. You mean like their hair or toenails? How about when parents poke holes in their earlobes or other body parts?

    You know, they probably could have avoided some controversy if they’d simply phrased the law to say that no non-reversible non-emergency change could be made to an underage child, nor could unneeded pain be inflicted for the purpose of changing appearance.

    Why do you think that specified only one?

  9. I don’t know. Because it’s their foreskins specifically they miss? What’s your theory?

  10. That it’s exactly what people are accusing them of: anti-religion. If they thought it was about uninformed decisions, they could have launched an information campaign, or even mandated that the doctor tell them that it’s not needed, which has been done before. If it was about unnecessary pain, then ban unnecessary pain. If it was about permanent change, then ban permanent change. Of course, those last two would open up their own rather large cans of worms, because no one’s ever been that concerned about harmless (as in, lack of harm) changes before, and there are far more harmful (smoking, excess TV) and painful (punishment, forced exercise) things that parents do to their children, not all of which are bad, and many of which people would rather the government didn’t control.

    As far as missing it: is this locker room shower envy? A strike against them in nudist colonies? What are they (mentally) missing?

  11. You seem to be using “anti-religion” to mean something more sinister than the definition I offered above, so what do you mean by it? That these people want to wipe out all religions? So they’re going after one particular ritual of one particular religion?

  12. That they (the group pushing the ban) are attempting to do so mainly because it’s a religious practice. Like most groups, I would expect varying levels of commitment. A ban is the strongest method available, so it needs to be justified, and even your web site (I don’t know if they’re the same people or not) makes no attempt to do so. When you’re getting ready for a fight, you better have some ammo.

    Unless you’re saying that they didn’t expect a fight. That would be just calling them idiots.

  13. Okay, but why this one religious practice, and not all the others? And to what end?

  14. Well, since they already stopped sacrificing animals, what else could they go after, Bar Mitzvahs?

    I’m still trying to figure out what people think they’re going to accomplish by fighting mosque construction.

  15. So you figure their stated goals aren’t their actual ones. You’re not sure what their actual ones are, but it has something to do with being “anti-religion”. Have I got that right?

    This is sounding a lot like the Yaakov/Roro suspicion that intactivists are “anti-Semitic.” That’s another vague label, and they haven’t pinpointed the “real” motivation lurking underneath it either. They can’t quite come out and say “the intactivists seek to torment or wipe out all Jews,” because it sounds comically extreme when you bring such a charge out into the daylight. But that does seem to be where their arguments head.

    Anyway, the more reasonable thing I think you’ve said is that you don’t think the intactivists have made a sensible case. Fair enough. I don’t think the traditionalists have made a sensible case either.

    As for the burden of proof, I probably agree with you that who *should* bear it is the one who wants to change the rules. But this isn’t a jury trial, it’s a ballot initiative in San Francisco, and anything can happen. It would be great if both sides brought fact-based arguments and voters weighed them carefully. But instead the issue is likely to be decided demagogically, between cartoons and outrage thereover.

  16. You gotta admit that the comic didn’t exactly help their case. I also think that it’s safe to say there’s no way that it would survive the court battles if it passed, which I also seriously doubt.

    Maybe this was the best way that they could come up with to get media attention on a budget.

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