The drawbacks and potential benefits of infant circumcision are now being publicly debated in Israel, the consequence of a pending High Court case there. I wrote about some of the ethical issues last week. The unusual case stems from a rabbinical court ruling where a mother was ordered to circumcise her nearly one-year-old son or face fines.
While some might assume that circumcision for the eight-day-old boy is an absolute in Israel, more Jewish people are questioning, and rejecting, the necessity of the rite. In researching this case, I spoke with Israeli ethicist Carmel Shalev of Haifa University Faculty of Law. She indicated to me that there is awareness in her country of the arguments against the practice.
Israeli circumcision critic Eran Sadeh (featured in the above news broadcast) has been working hard to educate Jewish people in Israel about the downsides to foreskin removal. He is the founder of the Israeli group Gonnen Al Hayeled (Protect the Child) and he is also a Beyond the Bris contributing writer. There can be no doubt that Sadeh’s advocacy is playing a large role in getting Israeli parents to think critically about this once universally accepted tradition.
It is important to note that there is absolutely no legal requirement in Israel that a child be circumcised. The controversial ruling in this case came as part of a divorce proceeding where the father demanded that his son be circumcised. It is also unlikely the ruling will be upheld, and the High Court has already issued injunctive relief to the mother while the case is being decided.