My Once A Year Jewish Rant

Today, I’m going to take this time to explore some Jewish-related subjects that I’m in the mood to rant about to you, my Jewish and non-Jewish friends.  I’m not sure why it occurred to me to write this today.  Maybe it was the bagels and lox I had for breakfast.

I’m usually much of a ranter.   I don’t have too many hang-ups over religion.   I’m not overly-touchy about Israel.   I don’t see anti-Semitism in every joke.  That would make me hypocritical, especially since I spend a good deal of my day making jokes about Catholics and Mormons.  We all have our own ethnic and religious prides and foibles, and the great thing about America is that we can freely express it.

It’s pretty clear that I am a Jewish guy, right?  So, I think it might be interesting to you to hear what I think about some of the following topics.  And if you disagree with anything I say, don’t be afraid to say it.

1) Merry Christmas – Happy Holidays

christmasandhannukah

Remember me?  The guy who throws the online Christmas-Hanukkah-Kwanzaa concert every year?  I like all holidays. Maybe next year, we can throw in a Muslim holiday into the concert mix as well! I’m all for inclusiveness.   However, every year, I find myself in the middle of the same boring argument — should Christians say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays?”  Some are adamant that America is really a “Christian” nation and are upset that outsiders are undermining the sacredness of this three month consumer bonanza we call “Christmas.”  Naturally, the haters always come out to play.  And we all know who are the biggest kvetchers about Christmas, right?  The Jews.  First Jesus, now Christmas.  What spoilers!

Here’s my take.  If you live in a big city were there are many religions and minorities, you should be able to make a big public display of your holiday.  There are plenty of those not celebrating your holiday, so we don’t feel bad.  We go for Chinese food.  Everyone loves Christmas trees.  However, if you live in a small town in mid-America where there is only one Jewish and one Muslim family, it probably would be nice if you went OUT OF YOUR WAY to make the outsiders feel comfortable, which means stop pushing for nativity scenes outside of the public library and city hall!  Who wants to be told “It’s a Christian nation” right to your face? It isn’t polite.

2) Israel and Gaza

gaza

Is God playing a joke on the Jews with Israel?  What a pain in the ass this country is! And have you ever tried to date an Israeli woman.  Talk about tough!  Israel is a tough subject for liberal Jews to talk about in public.  I have no problem with it.  During the recent election, I found it extremely annoying how the McCain campaign was trying to appeal to American Jews by creating “Obama is a Muslim” fear, as if we were a bunch of idiots.  Jews go to college.  We’re not that stupid.  On the other hand, I don’t find much of the progressive community a big fan of Israel, since these good-hearted souls prefer to side with the underdog, and not the American-allied bully.  And who can honestly root for a country that bombs poverty-stricken innocent women and children in their mosques and schools?

So what is a liberal Jew supposed to do?

I’ll never forget when some columnist wrote a post on the BlogHer political site advocating shipping all Jews from Israel to some place in Siberia, which would help defuse the problem in the Middle East, and friends of mine, normally outspoken political women, were protecting this writer, saying, “Well, perhaps it is an issue we should discuss.”  Maybe conservatives are right about liberals being the Jewish people’s worst friends!  My mother went to Boca Raton to escape the cold.  No Jew WANTS to move to Siberia!

Some of my favorite progressive bloggers, especially the ones in Europe, were very angry over the recent fighting in Gaza.  Many Europeans dislike the Israeli government, and think the American media is controlled by the pro-Israeli propaganda machine.  Two bloggers I know wrote pieces demanding that Israel be held for war crimes for the murder of innocent children.  On one of the posts, the word HAMAS was never used once. The scenario in Gaza was presented as “Israeli occupiers vs. people of Gaza.”

“What happened to the real bad guys in the story?” I commented.

Talk about propaganda!  While I was worried that I was losing my liberal credentials by bringing this up, it bugged me that someone could complain about slanted views, and substitute it with another man’s propaganda!   Wasn’t Hamas shipping in increasingly powerful weapons and hiding them in schools and mosques AND purposely endangering innocent victims for their own purposes?   What the hell was Hamas doing (with Iran’s help) by sacrificing their innocents for power and ideology?  Shouldn’t THEY be put up for war crimes?  The deaths of so many innocents is shameful, and it angers me that so many excuse the actions of Hamas as if they a local boy scout troup.

Sometimes I think the best thing for the Palestinians to do is to accept that they lost the endless war and start to figure out a way to live peacefully with their strong victors, like Japan did after World War II. Forget talking about 1948 and 1967.   Much of the Arab world likes to keep the Palestinians angry and in poverty, so they can keep them as a symbolic thorn in Israel’s side, and control their own corrupt governments.  HAMAS needs to accept Israel already, stop throwing bricks at the big bully’s head, and start asking their Arab brothers to help build some nice hotels by the Ocean and trying to really compete with Israel by offering better vacation packages.

But no one progressive would ever say that.

3) Beautiful Barcelona

barcelona

January 27th was International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day to remember the victims of the Holocaust.  This date marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.

As I mentioned, Europeans were very angry over the recent fighting in Gaza.  And many European cities have large Muslim populations that are a growing political power.  Because the local Barcelona media had run stories comparing the Israeli stance on the situation in the Strip to Nazi atrocities, the Catalunya government called off the city’s public memorial service.  This was to be the only public event marking the day, and was scheduled to take place in Barcelona’s central piazza.

“Marking the Jewish Holocaust while a Palestinian Holocaust is taking place is not right,” a local City official told Barcelona’s La Vanguardia newspaper.

Despite my love for the beautiful city of Barcelona, I found this quite disturbing.   Even if one is upset over Israel’s actions, why exactly is this the fault of those exterminated in Nazi death camps?  They don’t live in Israel.  They’re already dead.  If the Barcelona government was more logical, they would CELEBRATE this occasion, because if these six million would survived, there is a strong chance that THEY would be living in Israel themselves, as well as their children and grand-children, and the Israeli population would be three times as large, and Israel would even have a larger army in which to go into Gaza!  So next year, rather than pooh-poohing the holiday, I say free Tapas in Barcelona for everyone!

4) 1/3 of all Europeans

berniemadoff

A week after the Bernie Madoff scandal broke, I was having coffee with my friend Barry.  We were discussing the amazing hubris of this guy.  How could he pull this off?

“There’s one thing that is cool about this country,” I said.   “Bernie Madoff is clearly Jewish and his victims were wealthy Jews, but Americans never say things like, “Oh, the Jews, they’re always ripping people off.   All they care about is money.”

My friend laughed and said, “In Queens, they don’t, but believe me. they’re are doing it everywhere else.”

Call me naive, but I would assume most of those old stereotypes have died already in a country with an African-American President.  That’s why it is good to have Europe around for some of that old-fashioned anti-Semitism.  Good ol’ Europe — home of the Crusades, the Inquisition, forced conversion, and the Holocaust.  Even when most of the Jews are killed off, it is still the fault of the Jews… especially during economic downturns.   It has to be someone’s fault, right?

The Anti-Defamation League said Tuesday that a survey it commissioned found nearly a third of Europeans polled blame Jews for the global economic meltdown and that a greater number think Jews have too much power in the business world.   In Spain, 74 percent of those asked say they feel that Jews hold too much sway over the global financial markets.  That is the highest percentage in the survey.  Nearly two-thirds of Spanish respondents said Jews were also more loyal to Israel than they were to their home countries.

Did I ever tell you that Sophia and I honeymooned in Spain?  We loved it, except for the fact that it was almost impossible to find anything to eat that wasn’t made from the pig!  Hmmm…

5) Circumcision

bris

Can you believe that until I read this post on Her Bad Mother, I didn’t know that circumcision was such a big issue and that there are many ANGRY over it?!   I know that Americans tend to be circumcised more readily than Europeans (uh-oh, I can feel the American Jewish doctors having a hand in this… more trouble), and that it is considered unnecessary to many.  But what is the big deal?  I say, if you don’t want your son to get circumcized, don’t do it.  Who cares?  I don’t remember any discussion in the locker room between circumcised and uncircumcised men, or any laughing and pointing.  They are just penises.

But the fact is that circumcision is a big deal in Judaism.   It is probably one of the oldest traditions in the book, a symbol of the convenant between God and his people.   Jews have been doing it a long time without much trauma (unless research shows that circumcision is the cause of our neurotic behavior, but how would we then explain the neurotic Jewish women?).

Her Bad Mother’s post was intelligent and well-reasoned about her personal decision not to have her son circumcised, but if you do some googling on the subject, you find some scary stuff, and not just from crazy people, but from seemingly “loving” people who care about their children.   Circumcision is called “primitive” and “barbaric” and “genital mutation.”  It “destroys a man’s sexual pleasure” and “torments” the baby and should be “made illegal!”  WTF are we talking about?  Jack Bauer’s interrogation techniques on “24?”

Even if a person did have these beliefs about circumcision, I would think it impolite to blast a tradition so integral to another religion — in public!  There are all sorts of weird rites and rituals that occur around the world, and we appreciate them as part of some other culture.  Do people really want to make the bris illegal?  Would the same person feel as comfortable saying that wearing a burka should be made illegal?  Can you really compare the bris to female genital mutilation?

The whole issue sort of amused me.   Have you ever been to a bris?  The ceremony is done quickly, and then everyone eats a lot of food.  The only thing barbaric about the event is the amount of cholesterol in traditional Jewish food and the overly-sweet taste of the kosher wine.

Danny told me that he once wrote a post about the Jewish bris on the Huffington Post, and it received so many anti-Semitic comments that they had to remove the post from the Huffington Post.

Here is Danny’s post
, which is on his own blog, Jew Eat Yet.

This was his reaction after taking the post off the Huffington Post. And remember — the Huffington Post readership is a progressive one, believers in freedom of speech and religion.

Last Friday I posted my piece about circumcision which was mostly a family reminiscence based on an old discovered film I saw of my 1959 bris. I added a few comments about the people who oppose circumcision and I adopted an over-the-top and I thought humorous tone of intransigence about Kendall’s ambivalence towards the procedure. When I first saw my post zooming to the “Top Posts” list on Huffington, a way they have to track the most-read pieces, and the comments started pouring in fast and furious, I was excited that my post was generating such controversy. But I was unprepared for the level of hysteria that the “anti-circ” people would unleash, some of it accompanied by blatant anti-Semitism. Never in a million years did I mean to imply that circumcising your male child was the “right” thing to do, I was just sharing my own very personal feelings on the subject, all the while saying that this anti-circumcision group makes some valid points (which I still feel they muck up by resorting to outrageous hyperbole and propaganda).

I thought I had a very tough skin when it came to people sharing opposing views but I am not used to the level of personal attacks I received on the Huffington Post. Here is a sampling:

—Pull your head out of your egotistical Jewish ass.

—Let’s make a movie…at least this time it will have sound to preserve your pompous Jewish pontification (or should I say rabbification?).

—Your wife has a better sense of what a woman wants a penis partner to look like. Unless you’re planning to raise a gay son.

—Would you think the same thing if all male babies had to have their ears cut off at birth? Let’s dress up and make a fucking ritual of it and have a party with covered dishes!

—This last bit of animal sacrifice needs to end no matter the sentimental charm it has over older Jews.

—While you’re at it, Danny, you should really think about having all your children’s fingernails removed. After all, they are unnecessary in the evolutionary sense.

—YOU are the reason there are self-hating Jews, asshole. Your son would have every reason to hate you for being a coward.

—I demand that you CUT YOUR SON’S PENIS YOURSELF. See if THAT brings you closer to God!

—Fascism comes in all forms and degrees…you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself.

—Is this “mark” kind of like that yellow star the Nazis had all Jews sew on their clothes during WW2? They tried tattoos, too. How did those work out?

—Kendall, don’t damage and risk your child’s life by allowing some idiot to chop off the most sexually pleasurable part of his penis. Chop off that idiot you married instead, and do it before you get pregnant. Find a human being for a father for your children and replace this monster.

—Being Jewish and circumcised is no excuse for the kind of abusive behavior Miller exhibits. Many Jews are humane, decent people. This bozo is a disgrace to the good name of Judaism.

—Circumcising infants is a Satanic blood ritual. That is the only possible explanation for the persistence of this heinous evil. Human beings are not this evil. Only Satan himself is. All children circumcised are severely injured for life.

All I can say is that I am blessed with my friendly readership. You seem to like me, despite my circumcised Jewish talking penis.

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91 Responses to My Once A Year Jewish Rant

  1. I was AMAZED at how many bizarre comments turned up in the comments section for that post. I mean, I had a no idea that it was so controversial, even when I was struggling with whether or not to have it done with my own (and it *was* a struggle, because all the men in both our families are circumcised.)

    Every day you learn something. This was a more discomfiting set of lessons than most.

  2. Lucy says:

    My minor was in Middle Eastern Relations, but I rarely have the confidence to be more than an educated observer. Privately I stand firm, but . . .

    Thank you for writing this thought-provoking piece. I have some old books that need revisiting.

  3. AnnieH says:

    I love a good religious rant. Interesting.
    On the subject of Israel, I heard on an NPR program the thinking that in a generation there will be more Palestineans living in Israel than those of the Jewish faith. Makes the Middle East issues even more complicated. Perhaps the desire to determine good guys and bad guys needs to give way to figuring out how we can live together–good and bad on both sides.

  4. V-Grrrl says:

    I noticed you left the penis bit until the end (pun intended). Was this to keep me reading?

    As for the people that consider circumcision barbaric, well I had a non-Christian friend tell me how bizarre Christian beliefs seem to him. “The central theology is built around a virgin birth and God allowing his perfect son to be tortured and killed! And the central ritual revolves around celebrating that event and pretending to eat his body and blood? And people think Scientology is weird? Ha!”

    I had to laugh because really, he had some great points. All religions and religious rituals seem bizarre to those outside of that culture.

  5. songbird says:

    another Jewish liberal here. I agree with everything you wrote.

    the anti-circ argument used to pop up frequently on a parently board I used to belong to, and I couldn’t believe the venom…

  6. Neil says:

    Songbird — and where is this anger coming from? No one forces anyone to do it.

  7. flutter says:

    I think I might love you. But I am but a gentile. *sigh* it shall never be

  8. Poppy Buxom says:

    I went to a bris once, and it made me realize that all religions worth their salt have a heaping helping of weirdness. Jews and Muslims snip their boys, Christians eat the body and drink the blood of Jesus, and Buddhists … well, I don’t know what Buddhists do, but I suspect their weird thing is remaining calm while everyone else’s weird shit happens around them.

    You know?

    As usual, Neil, from where I’m sitting (in a in the Basilica of St. Blog) you are the Voice of Reason.

    And so is your penis.

  9. Lucy says:

    Male circumcision is compared to female circumcision. I think, clearly, it is a false argument. I’ve seen anthropologists turn three shades of anger when debating students who suggest that perhaps the two practices cannot be compared.

  10. Mik says:

    Great post Neil, you know, I wish I had been circumcised when I was a mere babe, it would have been over quick and I would’ve forgotten all about it.

    Having it done when you are 13 because of medical reasons was traumatic. Waking up after the general anesthetic in pain, sticking to everything, was not fun and something I have not forgotten

    I vowed “I ain’t having that done again!”

  11. Neil says:

    MIK – and honestly, isn’t the real issue how big the book is, not what’s on the cover!

  12. Neil says:

    Poppy – if you think about it, the Buddhist idea of karma is sort of weird. I think if someone gets hit by a bus, it means that the person deserved it because of something that happened in a previous life. That doesn’t seem fair, does it?

  13. You might want to consider pancakes for breakfast. Probably with sausage.

  14. Neil says:

    Amy – I don’t like pancakes. I do like french toast, especially made with challah!

  15. kenju says:

    If I were more knowledgeable about it, I’d debate you on karma. It makes perfect sense to me.

  16. Neil says:

    Kenju, I’m not sure either. Let’s find a Buddhist who can help us understand it better.

  17. mommyknows says:

    I thought Karma was a Hindu thing? Maybe I’m wrong.

    After a life time in the middle-east I just can’t wrap my mind around your ‘Palestinian go the Japanese route theory’. HUH?

    Circumcision, I think it’s a rotten thing to do to a baby. I had to battle my husband to keep my son from having it done.

    I’m ready to break out singing J. Lennon’s Imagine …

    Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion too

  18. Jack says:

    The anti-circ crowd hit my blog every month and comment on my posts about the topic. I have been called all sorts of fun names. Whatever. I am not a turtle, neither is my son or the other men in our family.

    I have yet to read/hear a coherent argument about why it is wrong. But I know from experience that everything works just fine there and always has.

    As for Gaza, well I don’t care what the world says. The world says a lot of things and does very little. Africa burns and no one does anything.

    No one said anything about how Hamas went around beating, kneecapping and murdering members of Fatah. No one talked about how Hamas used Soprano style tactics to take control of the strip.

    Useful idiots threw around a lot of terms that they didn’t understand and pretended that they were humanitarians.

    Hell, I could go on about this but it is your blog not mine.

    Let me finish by saying that I think religion is a private affair. My preference would be to keep the displays out of the public arena, at least any that are gov’t funded.

  19. Danny says:

    Just for the record, it was not Huffington that had to delete my post about circumcision, in fact they urged me to keep it on. That was purely my decision because the attacks became so personal and some lunatics started emailing me privately and threatening my family. Who needs that? I’ll take risks for some issues but circumcision ain’t one of them.

    I am obviously fine with anyone, Jew or Gentile, who decides not to circumcise their son, hooray for them, but I have NO patience for the segment of the “anti-circ” crowd that thinks everyone who makes a different choice is an inhuman monster who doesn’t deserve to be a parent. There is something seriously wrong with some of those folks, I have rarely encountered such an ugly, vicious group. Humorless, too. At least they didn’t “get” any of the attempted humor in my original piece. Looking back at that post, I can see how I enflamed them. I did come across as very obnoxious and smug and that’s not at all how I actually discussed the subject with my wife. But I still, in a million years, would not consider NOT circumcising my sons. As for the horrible, life-changing trauma it inflicts on babies and the huge decrease in sexual pleasure when they are older, I can only speak from my personal experience and that of every male I know and say…what a load of crap!

  20. Hugh7 says:

    Yes, some circumcised guys are pretty angry about it, and they tend to go OTT, because there’s not much they can do about it. (The thousands who are restoring their foreskins non-surgically have found psychological benefits and tend to be happier. They also find sexual benefits – a book’s pages don’t fray so much, making it more readable, when its cover hasn’t been ripped off, or it’s been re-bound. Wow, was that a strained analogy!)

    Jewish circumcision is out there in public, “medical” circumcision (97% of circumcision in the US) is hush-hush, so it’s the bris that gets the focus of their wrath.

    However you look at it, cutting off part of a baby’s penis is a pretty weird thing to do. It’s even anomalous in Judaism, breaking the mitzvot against marking the body, against causing pain, and against doing harm. Many liberal Jews don’t believe in a personal God, don’t believe in an historical Abraham or Moses, but the last thing they’ll give up is circumcision. Why? It looks like fear of breaking the chain. Yet some do, and welcome their babies in non-surgical ceremonies (see http://shalom.notlong.com).

    Now that it’s the norm, US doctors don’t know anything about the foreskin except how to cut it off, and circumcisions like MIK’s can probably be avoided. (And the suffering to a baby is no less than his.) In Finland, the lifetime risk of circumcision is less than one in 8000, so as prophylaxis, a lot of circumcisions are wasted.

  21. Mark Lyndon says:

    Not all Jewish people believe in circumcision. Brit Shalom is an alternative naming ceremony to celebrate the birth of baby boys to Jewish families. These sites are all run by Jewish people opposed to circumcision:

    http://www.jewishcircumcision.org/
    http://www.jewsagainstcircumcision.org/
    http://www.circumcision.org/

  22. Neil says:

    Danny – will change that fact later.

    Mommyknows —

    I’m ready to break out singing J. Lennon’s Imagine …

    “Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion too”

    While this is one of my favorite songs, and I agree with the idealistic sentiments, usually what this means — in reality — is that some force killed off all opposition and enforced ideology on everyone so there are no competing religions or thoughts. If there was no countries and no religion, people would find new cliques to form and fight over issues. Human beings love to separate themselves into smaller groups and start to falsely believe that their issues are more important than every else in the world.

    There is a reason why every other blog is titled Mommy or Mom, as mothers separate themselves from the concerns of women who are not mothers, and why the internet is so cliquey. It is who we are.

    I think it would be a more powerful statement to say that people should love and respect each other FOR their differences, and make a concerted effort to care about others in different groups, rather than dreaming of a world where we are all one people with one one way of thinking, which would be pretty boring. Sorry, John.

  23. i’m catholic and my husband and i had our infant son circumcised, we waited in the room outside of where it was done, it was a terrible experience for us. we were in the room while he was strapped to the “circ” board, heard his screams while it was being done and we were brought back into the room right away, the baby still screaming and the nurse told me to pick up my son, still strapped to that “circ” board, in an effort to calm him. i would never put another child through this again.

  24. Jane says:

    I know you’ve come to expect me to pick on you, but I just can’t with this post. I’m actually a little bit surprised that I agree with you on every point.

    I have been incredibly disheartened by the progressive’s increasingly myopic views on Israel, as well as by the dearth of Nazi movies (see Danny’s site), and the call to treat Hamas as a legitimate political body. The line of thinking that compares the bris of a Jewish infant to the genital mutilation of a 4-6 year old girl is disgusting. Circumcision has been part of American and not just Jewish culture, but even if that were not the case, the male does not lose the ability to sexually or otherwise naturally function.

    I call myself a moderate liberal. I kicked myself out of the progressive camp due to what I believe is a deep vein of anti-semitism and an unrealistic embrace of a culture awash in human rights abuses.

  25. To circ or not circ does seem to be a huge issue. I have a pediatrician friend who is very much against it. She has to do them and she said it pains her to see the little babies screaming their heads off. She says they strap them to this little “gingerbread mean” contraption (the thought of which makes me giggle a little bit) when they do it. Part of me hopes I only have daughters so I don’t have to make such a decision. I’ll probably just let my husband decide.

  26. Nat says:

    In sort of disjointed bullets. I apologize.

    It’s funny how different Israel/Hamas seems depending what you read. I get a lot of my news from the CBC who is going out of their way to make it sound like Israel and Hamas have both completely lost their minds and that it’s the innocents that are suffering.

    I’m anti-circumsicion. My doctor advised against it. He’s Jewish. He said there was no medical reason to do it, and that there is the risk of infection, and “errors” which have led to more than just the foreskin being cut. He also said it hurts. (Well duh.) I know the argument seems to be flowing in the other direction. (I mean this respectfully.) Why is it ok to hurt our baby boys like this? Is it akin to snipping a puppies tail or ears? Should we not err on the side of caution? (It’s my understanding that circumsion was introduced from a public health perspective to prevent infection. With modern sanitation and running water this is no longer an issue.) I’m a bleeding heart lefty when it comes to kids, I think spanking is wrong too.

    Karma isn’t good or bad. Karma (in the true sense) is more action/reaction. I do A and it leads to B. We’ve just bastardized her in the west.

    Great post.

  27. Neil says:

    Nat — I’m not advocating circumcision for anyone. All I am saying is that it is a cultural tradition that a group has been following since Biblical times and it is a central tenet of the group. There are ways to present the ideas in ways without calling the act barbaric, which is insulting to those who do it as a ritual. Then we can debate whether this religious ritual is harmful to the baby and whether is should be stopped. Or whether it is mild enough for this group to continue their practice.

    Female genital mutilation is much more serious, like it is done in some places in Africa, and it does for reasons that are more dangerous and psychological. I could see that act being made illegal. BUT — I see a lot more respectful discussion over that issue, with cultural understanding of those who do it, than I see in the discussion of circumcision. Why does the issue bring out so many anti-Semitic haters?

  28. Neil says:

    Jane – the fact that you agreed with a post is a symbol that there truly is a God.

  29. Laura says:

    I had no real opinion of circ until you linked me to Danny’s article. Even though his story was framed as a fond trip down memory lane, for me, the uninitiated and gentile, it felt like a flippant recollection of an unnecessary group cruelty. I couldn’t reconcile the unfolding events with the jovial tone of the piece. I read it almost as I would watch a scary movie, with hands over my eyes. It raised the hair on the back of my neck. I didn’t expect to react that way, but I did.

    I see myself as a tolerant person, a free thinker. Yet I had a physical reaction to Danny’s story. This result doesn’t move me to rage and fling insults at him. It makes me wish for you and he to understand that each of us have our own gut responses to what we imagine are right and wrong and some of us might feel that you are clinging to an old custom based on your socialization rather than your reasoning skills.

    I watched the Bernie Madoff story with the fascination of a voyeur. Scam guy, crook, ex-confidante and friend of his victims. I never once thought of him as a Jew and am always surprised (maybe it’s naive) to learn that this is an issue anywhere.

    Lastly, on the karma front, I recently saw a quote that helped me understand a bit more.

    “Karma can easily be misunderstood.

    People get into a heavy-duty sin-and-guilt trip. They feel that if things are going wrong, it means they did something bad and they’re being punished. But that’s not the idea at all. The idea of karma is that you continually get the teachings you need in order to open your heart. To the degree that you didn’t under- stand in the past how to stop protecting your soft spot, how to stop armoring your heart, now you’re given this gift of teachings in the form of your life. Your life gives you everything you need to learn how to open further.”

    –Pema Chodron

    None of us truly understand each other, but I say we keep trying.

  30. Neil says:

    Laura – thanks for being honest with your reaction. Maybe Jews and those who are familiar with the bris read the post in a different way, because the occasion is such a common one. The bris, the bar mitzvah, the wedding, the funeral — are the big life events.

    Danny himself said that he probably would have written the post differently if he had known the reaction. STILL — I would expect comments like “This is not funny” or “I find this post insulting.” I’m not sure why there were so many “Jewish” tirades, even if Danny is talking about a Jewish ritual. It is just in bad taste. I’m hoping that I can write a jokey piece about meeting Jesus in McDonald’s, and have people hate it, find it insulting, and call me a jerk. But there is no reason to insult “Jews” for my actions.

  31. Danny says:

    I’m thinking maybe I should delete that post from my own blog, too. The thing is, the way I wrote it, making fun of the ritual, comparing the event to something out of “Rosemary’s Baby,” using words like “satanic cabal,” and even the title of the post itself, I can see why people who do not come from my culture are horrified. It was ALL tongue-in-cheek, assuming a familiarity with the events. Unlike most of the posts on my blog (I hope!), that one was truly written for a Jewish audience. That people are taking it so seriously makes me very uncomfortable. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with boys being circumcised AT ALL, and yet I wrote that post in a tone that would naturally ignite the passions of those who do. Maybe there are some things you just can’t joke about in public.

  32. mv says:

    interesting you say palestine should just accept they “lost” and live peacefully with israel, but you don’t mention that maybe israel should realize palistine will keep fighting for their rights as well and find a more realistic compromise to this endless battle. its an argument i hear all the time, “why doesn’t palestine just give up?” well, why should they??? both sides need to give in a little, but israel has to compromise just as much as palestine for a successful resolution.

  33. LVGurl says:

    Regarding this apparent “circumcision outrage” — I had no idea it was such a hot button issue until I watched that Momversation from a few weeks ago. I have two girls, so this obviously wasn’t a decision we had to make; but I could careless what parents decide to do to their sons’ peckers. It is truly a personal or religious choice that should be free from commentary. This just seems like one more thing for mothers (and mommybloggers!) to bitch at each other about.

  34. churlita says:

    I don’t believe in organized religion because they all seem to be equally guilty on the religious persecution front.

    As far as circumcision goes, I told my ex-husband that if we had a boy, that decision would be up to him. I’ve never had a penis, so I didn’t think I was qualified to decide. He would have had a boy circumcised, but we had two girls, so the point was moot.

  35. Neil says:

    Danny – Leave it to your blogging friends to only link to your posts where the commenters hate you! I’m sure you appreciate me sending over new people to threaten your family!

    I have deleted one or two posts that were just becoming too much of a hassle. So, it wouldn’t bother me at all if you deleted it. But do you notice how you are already reverting back to the old ways by blaming YOURSELF for the reaction. Even if the post is taken the wrong way for some reason — there is no excuse for comments like you received on the Huffington Post. I would rather you put a link on this bris post to your other post where you write down some of the comments on the Huffington Post, and use this post as a commentary on the COMMENTS more than it just being a funny post about the bris.

    But if you want to delete it, I can also get rid of the link here, also.

    MV – I know it isn’t nice of me to say, but I was trying to come up with a new approach.

    “Israel has to compromise just as much as palestine for a successful resolution.”

    No one is really going to disagree with that on one level. Israel has to compromise a lot to make peace. But on a realistic level, it would make sense to see that the Israelis are a stronger entity. They’re not leaving. They can go in an out of Gaza and the West Bank whenever they want to. The best thing for the Palestinians is to accept reality, and that they are not going to get as good a deal as the Israelis, for whatever reason, for whatever history, good or bad. And the longer they act like they are the military equals, and can push Israel into the sea, they are going to get their heads bashed in. At some point, it is the responsibility of of the guy with the slingshot to stop threatening the giant, and then blaming him when he hits back. The big guy doesn’t trust you AT ALL. Start getting your act together. Look for some financial assistance from your supposedly helpful Arab brothers, and start living, and maybe as time goes on, things will change.

    History is filled with border conflicts, and land transfers, and conflicts, and winners and losers, and after awhile the losers become the winners, and sometimes there is no compromise at all. (is there anything worse than the way we stole land from the Native Americans and put them on reservations?) At least, in Israel, the Jews had a fundamental belief that this land was given to them, and they lived there for centuries, which is a lot more understandable than most of the things that have gone on in history.

  36. Memarie Lane says:

    Very interesting, Neil. You would not believe the amount of crap I’ve gotten for choosing to circumcise my son. I actually got ousted from an internet forum for daring to express that I think uncircumcised penises look kind of gross. People just aren’t allowed to have opinions anymore I guess, or to make their own decisions about what’s best for their kids.

  37. Memarie Lane says:

    Rather I should say you are allowed to have an opinion, but only if it’s the same opinion as everyone else. 😉

  38. mv says:

    i think this is one of those “agree to disagree” issues. however, using the claim that land is a nations “right” and/or religious right has been the root of more land disputes/wars than i can count. it doesn’t make it any more right in my opinion.

  39. Laura says:

    Danny wrote an article with an audience in mind (as we all do) and was unprepared for the response. Maybe a preface about the response he expected and a link to this post would help, but really? …

    …All those comments say so much more about us commenters than the article or the person who wrote it. Be brave, Danny…look how much we’re talking!

  40. Ellen Bloom says:

    We had lox, bagels and cream cheese for breakfast today too. Happy President’s Day!

  41. Mona Mildew says:

    I hate all the ‘anti-circ’ venom. I watched a documentary one time that said that circumsicion did have a medical basis from the very beginning. It was thought that before people wore pants it was necessary in desert dwelling tribes so that sand and dirt would not get trapped under the foreskin and cause pain and damage.

    What is funny is that Catholics have a Feast of the Circumcision to celebrate Jesus’ (that has been renamed.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feast_of_the_Circumcision_of_Christ#Roman_Catholic_Church

    I chose to circumcise my son because when I had a 9 month internship in the O.R. the number of young boys and adult men who had to have the procedure due to medical issues was staggering. If a few moments of tears could spare him the experience MIK had I can handle it.

  42. Neil says:

    The funniest thing I read on an anti-circ site was that the bris was created by the ancient rabbis to “curb masturbation.” Yeah, like that really works!

  43. Mark Lyndon says:

    “the number of young boys and adult men who had to have the procedure due to medical issues was staggering”

    Funny how this doesn’t happen outside the USA. The rate in the UK is about 1 in 140, and it’s getting rarer. Circumcision at a later age is safer and less painful anyway, and the cosmetic results are better. I’ve never heard of anyone dying or needing a second operation following circumcision in a western clinical setting.

    Circumcising for medical reasons just doesn’t make sense:

    Canadian Paediatric Society
    Recommendation: Circumcision of newborns should not be routinely performed.

    http://www.caringforkids.cps.ca/pregnancy&babies/circumcision.htm
    Circumcision is a “non-therapeutic” procedure, which means it is not medically necessary.”
    “After reviewing the scientific evidence for and against circumcision, the CPS does not recommend routine circumcision for newborn boys. Many paediatricians no longer perform circumcisions.

    RACP Policy Statement on Circumcision
    “After extensive review of the literature the Royal Australasian College of Physicians reaffirms that there is no medical indication for routine neonatal circumcision.”
    (those last nine words are in bold on their website, and almost all the men responsible for this statement will be circumcised themselves, as the male circumcision rate in Australia in 1950 was about 90%. “Routine” circumcision is now *banned* in public hospitals in Australia in all states except one.)

    British Medical Association: The law and ethics of male circumcision – guidance for doctors
    “to circumcise for therapeutic reasons where medical research has shown other techniques to be at least as effective and less invasive would be unethical and inappropriate.”

    National Health Service (UK)
    “Many people have strong views about whether circumcision should be carried out or not. It is not routinely performed in the UK because there is no clear clinical evidence to suggest it has any medical benefit.”

    The College of Physicians & Surgeons of British Columbia
    “Circumcision is painful, and puts the patient at risk for complications ranging from minor, as in mild local infections, to more serious such as injury to the penis, meatal stenosis, urinary retention, urinary tract infection and, rarely, even haemorrhage leading to death. The benefits of infant male circumcision that have been promoted over time include the prevention of urinary tract infections and sexually transmitted diseases, and the reduction in risk of penile and cervical cancer. Current consensus of medical opinion, including that of the Canadian and American Paediatric Societies and the American Urological Society, is that there is insufficient evidence that these benefits outweigh the potential risks. That is, routine infant male circumcision, i.e. routine removal of normal tissue in a healthy infant, is not recommended.”

    See also:
    Canadian Children’s Rights Council
    “It is the position of the Canadian Children’s Rights Council that “circumcision” of male or female children is genital mutilation of children.

    Drops in male circumcision:
    USA: from 90% to 57%
    Canada: from 47% to 14%
    UK: from 35% to about 5% (less than 1% among non-Muslims)
    Australia: 90% to 12.6% (“routine” circumcision has recently been *banned* in public hospitals in all states except one, so the rate will now be a lot lower)
    New Zealand: 95% to below 3% (mostly Samoans and Tongans)
    South America and Europe: never above 5%

    Non-religious circumcision only started in the mid-19th century as doctors back then thought that :
    a) masturbation caused various physical and mental problems (including epilepsy, convulsions, paralysis, tuberculosis etc), and
    b) circumcision stopped masturbation.

    Both of those sound ridiculous today I know, but if you don’t believe me, then check out this link:
    A Short History of Circumcision in North America In the Physicians’ Own Words

  44. Neil says:

    Mark, I don’t disagree with you. I don’t think parents should circumcise their kids if they don’t want them to be circumsised. Who cares? But since it seems to be a relatively harmless religious ritual, with no evidence of it being a barbaric practice, I would let those who want to do it, do it, and no harm done. If there is real evidence of it being a harmful or traumatic experience for a baby, that’s different. Like you said, there are already Jewish families that opt out of the tradition. But as of now, it is more of a matter of choice — and religious tradition — rather than a public health risk to our society. Why does this create such an over-the-top reaction?

  45. Hugh7 says:

    I don’t know about ancient rabbis, but the Rambam said
    “As regards circumcision, I think that one of its objects is to limit sexual intercourse, and to weaken the organ of generation as far as possible, and thus cause man to be moderate. … The bodily injury caused to that organ is exactly that which is desired…there is no doubt that circumcision weakens the power of sexual excitement, and sometimes lessens the natural enjoyment …”

    Preventing or “curing” masturbation is a well-documented reason for introducing the “medical” variety in the 1870s. (John Harvey Kellogg: “A remedy which is almost always successful in small boys is circumcision…. The operation should be performed by a surgeon without administering an anæsthetic, as the brief pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if it be connected with the idea of punishment…. In females, the author has found the application of pure carbolic acid to the clitoris an excellent means of allaying the abnormal excitement….”) Of course it didn’t work, but it may delay the onset, which was important when boys could be kicked out of private schools for masturbating, and lose their career and social prospects.

    Danny: “As for … the huge decrease in sexual pleasure when they are older, I can only speak from my personal experience and that of every male I know and say…what a load of crap!”
    and Jack: “I know from experience that everything works just fine there and always has.”
    – what are you comparing with? Men who have been circumcised in adulthood compare the effect with going colour-blind.

  46. Danny says:

    Oh boy, now you’ve opened the floodgates, Neil! At least Mark Lyndon’s comments here are pretty restrained. I fully support his activities in helping to educate parents who are questioning the procedure and want to get all the facts. But on other sites (and he’s all over the place) I’ve seen him compare male circumcision on other sites to female genital mutilation which is total insanity. I also expected Hugh’s response (another anti-circ poster who’s all over the Internet) to my comment. Yes, it’s true, I can’t compare my sexual pleasure to anyone else’s. But I like it just fine, thanks.

    Have you noticed that you’re getting comments from people who have never once visited this blog before? These people must spend every day googling the word “circumcision” so they can spread their gospel. Of course they have every right to do so…

  47. Jack says:

    Hugh,

    Need to do better than that.

  48. Jane says:

    Oy Vey. Or in more inclusive lingo, WTF? Do people really believe that they will change the collective minds of Jews regarding Bris by going from website to website to argue? I know after reading the posts by Mark and Hugh, I am bowing my head in shame, ruing the day my son was circumcised, flagellating myself for absolutely destroying any possibility of his sexual pleasure. We are such tribal, uneducated, outdated barbarians.

    *snark*

  49. Miguelina says:

    Wow. You have a full-blown circumcision debacle in your comments sections. You’re more of a mommyblogger than I’ve ever been. Congratulations! Next up, breastfeeding…

  50. Jane says:

    WINNER of the comment of the day — Miguelina. No wonder she’s your favorite so often. :-)

  51. Neil says:

    Miguelina — I am very pro breast-feeding. My lousy Jewish mother gave me formula. Now that is barbaric. It has made me boob-obsessed ever since!

    Hugh – I am far from an expert on Jewish history or philosophy, but I know Rambam (Maimonides) — one of Judaism’s greatest Torah scholars, was also a physician and was greatly influenced by the ideas of finding practical and scientific reasons to “explain” some of the mysteries of the Torah. He might have explained circumcision as related to masturbation, but he didn’t know anymore than anyone else. He is a religious scholar, not a modern historian. And I doubt very much that even with him looking for a rational reason behind God’s laws, that he would dismiss the commandment as human folly. He was trying to explain why God might have instructed the Chosen People to do this odd symbolic gesture as a sign of the covenant. Rambam’s interpretation is just one of many. He would be the last person on Earth to say, “Eh, everyone still masturbates. It doesn’t work. Let’s call it a day!”

    I would assume if there was a purely historical reason behind circumcision it was probably the Israelites wanting to separate themselves from those around them, keeping the clan together, not because of masturbation.

    But that is all a moot point if you are religious. The reason is not as important as God saying so, even though there are countless other examples of rabbis “reinterpreting” stuff in the Bible like animal sacrifices. I’m sure more liberal Judaism could start reinterpreting “circumcision” as some other type of ceremony if there was real evidence that the bris was truly harmful, but I haven’t seen this evidence yet.

  52. Mark Lyndon says:

    “I’ve seen him compare male circumcision on other sites to female genital mutilation which is total insanity”
    It’s actually kind of strange to see a fundamental difference between cutting parts off male genitals and cutting parts off female genitals. The people that cut girls certainly don’t, and they quote the same reasons to do it that are used to justify male circumcision. I’m also working to reducing the rate of female circumcision too, but that’s really hard to do when male circumcision is so readily accepted.

    I’m well aware that some forms of female circumcision are unquestionably far more severe than the usual form of male circumcision, but some forms do less damage, and one form is the exact equivalent. It’s illegal even to make a symbolic incision, or even a pinprick on a girl’s genitals in the USA though, yet baby boys routinely have the most sensitive part of their penis cut off.

    It’s not just me that compares male and female circumcision btw. I already posted what the Canadian Children’s Rights Council have to say.

    “if there was real evidence that the bris was truly harmful”
    Babies have died because of a bris, most recently in New York and London. Another baby in New York got brain damage. How harmful does it have to be?

    I just think that people should be able to decide for themselves if they want part of their genitals cut off. It’s their body after all.

  53. Neil says:

    Thanks Mark for you interesting comments. I’ll try to research and find some more concrete unbiased information on the severity of the health and mental issues that arise from the bris ceremony. If it truly is dangerous, I will gladly join the cause. For now, I say those who want to participate in this tried and true religious ritual should continue to do so, and be able to connect themselves… and their children… with their heritage in the way they choose.

  54. Jack says:

    Babies have died because of a bris

    We need specifics. General statements like that aren’t compelling nor particularly useful.

    It is like saying that babies choke on food and die. Some do, so maybe we shouldn’t feed them because it is a health risk.

  55. Mark Lyndon says:

    “We need specifics.”
    The Talmud itself allows for a boy not to be circumcised if three older brothers have died as a result. This seems to have happened often enough for uncircumcised Jewish men to be specifically excluded from certain ceremonies.

    Here are a couple of recent cases:
    http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23385852-details/Police%20investigate%20death%20of%20Jewish%20baby%20who%20fell%20ill%20after%20circumcision/article.do
    http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/std/std-bris.shtml

    These cases are rare, but why should they happen at all?

    Comparing it to feeding babies doesn’t seem like a valid analogy. Babies die if you don’t feed them.

  56. Christine says:

    Hi Neil! Can you still see me under all this? Loved your yearly rant.

  57. headbang8 says:

    I am an adult male of considerable maturity and sexual experience, and the owner of a functioning foreskin. Forgive me if I become anatomically explicit.

    I cannot imagine sex, and life, without a foreskin.

    It DOES contain the most sexually sensitive tissue on my dick, a frenulum of skin below the glans. If I were without it, I’m sure I could still function sexually, but the pleasure would be vastly diminished.

    Once, as an experiment, I tried to wear the skin back for a day. Yeesh. How do you cut guys stand it?

    Circumcision is no more medically justified than a prophylactic appendectomy.

    People get away with circumcising their infant sons because violence against men and their bodies is commonplace, and sanctioned by our culture.

    * * * * *

    Memarie, if you circumcised your son because “uncircumcised penises look kind of gross”, shame on you. That’s like saying that all women should starve themselves because child-bearing hips look “kind of gross”. In both cases, we should learn to love our bodies as they are.

  58. mv says:

    nicely said headbang8….and mark lyndon.

  59. headbang8 says:

    Forgive me if I got a bit hot under the collar with that last comment. But it’s something about which I feel very strongly. On to another subject.

    * * * * *

    “Sometimes I think the best thing for the Palestinians to do is to accept that they lost the endless war and start to figure out a way to live peacefully with their strong victors, like Japan did after World War II.”

    This is a really intriguing thought, Neil. May I provide a different slant on it?

    One of the things which confounds those who wage a war on terror, is that an act of terror isn’t really an act of war. It’s a crime.

    How do we stop crime? Soldiers dropping bombs, or cops on the beat? More appropriately, there is a role for a social worker.

    Poverty, disadvantage, and social alienation play a role in causing crime, especially violent crime. It doesn’t matter whether the crime yields an economic advantage to the perpetrator, or whether he does it just for the thrill, or as a gesture against the establishment.

    Interestingly, this was the principle behind the occupation of Japan and Germany after WWII.

    Citizens of both nations were amazed when the Americans took over during the occupation. They wanted to help rebuild, and were quite generous about it, when they might just as easliy have extracted revenge. It paid off–few lingering resentments, years of peace with former foes, and, coincidentally, healthy markets for Ameircan goods and investment.

    The secret to a Japan-style peace lay not with the vanquished becoming more humble, but rather the victor becoming more generous. Such a course of action may not prove popular in the Israeli electorate, and may even offend the nation’s sense of natural justice, but it may be in Israel’s self interest.

  60. Neil says:

    Headbang — Again, I am not an advocate of circumcision. I was just saying that it is a tradition closely connected with a religion — and has been for a very long time. And that the subject should probably be discussed without the words barbaric in there, just to be sensitive. And that until there is real evidence that this is dangerous experience for the child, that it should be allowed to be continued. Female gentital mutilation is another matter, and it is a phony argument to compare the two.

    As for the comparisons with Japan when talking about Israel and the Palestinians, I was worried that it might come off harsh, but I think there is some truth to it. There is still controversy about whether the atomic bomb was a necessity at the time, or whether it saved lives by ending the war. I’m just saying that Palestinian culture cannot thrive on teaching their children to hate and believing that one day they will kick Israel into the sea. There’s a complicated history, and Israel is not the only one at fault. Israel was attacked several times, including 1967, and much of the disputed land came about after the Arab world took a gamble, and lost.

    You are right that Japan got on her feet with American generosity. And I bet Israel would be generous with the Palestinians. Who wants to have an angry population next door? Who wants to have a large Arab population in your own country disliking you? But there is no way Israel is going to be generous until Hamas stops throwing rocks and calling for the destruction of your country.

  61. Neil says:

    By the way, I took down my next post since it was dumb.

  62. Danny says:

    Does that make TWO posts you’ve deleted today? It must be the anti-circ people who are making you so nervous. Or maybe it’s your own barbaric circumcision that is finally going to your head.

    (Didn’t I just say two comments ago that perhaps this was a topic I should stop joking about?)

  63. AnnieH says:

    Whasssuuuup?? Now I shall be left ALL DAY contemplating what “Everyone Loves A…” what?? A good trapeze act? An extra dollop of sour cream? A good sing-a-long? If I’m distracted today I’m pointing the finger to you, Mr. Neilochka. Personally, I always love a funny looking guy on stilts. I wish one would come through the units of the hospital.

  64. ali says:

    my son is circumcised. lalalala. and yes, if i had another son, i would circumcise him as well. so, there’s that.

    the Barcelona thing makes me SO angry. my bubbie was liberated from Auschwitz. and my zaydie was liberated from Dachau. holocaust rememberance is VERY important to me regardless of what is happening in israel right now.

  65. Jack says:

    These cases are rare, but why should they happen at all?

    Still not a reason not to do it. If you receive a vaccination with a tainted needle you can become ill and die too.

    We don’t stop certain activities just because they might have danger attached to them.

    The Talmud itself allows for a boy not to be circumcised if three older brothers have died as a result.
    I’d be curious to see that, especially to see what Rashi said. But there is a real question of applicability.
    The secret to a Japan-style peace lay not with the vanquished becoming more humble, but rather the victor becoming more generous.

    What you said makes sense, but there is a fundamental distinction that needs to be addressed. The Hamas charter calls
    for the destruction of Israel. It is hard to negotiate with people who do not recognize your right to exist.

    Hamas fired rockets indiscriminately into Israel proper. They were fired at land that is not under dispute. The world doesn’t consider that land to be occupied territory, it is Israel proper.

    I’d also argue that one of the big distinctions is that the US unleashed the big guns. Two atomic bombs were dropped on Japan. It was made clear that they couldn’t defeat the US militarily.

    Sometimes the best way to bring diplomacy is to use force. It sounds backwards, but you can use violence to convince the other side that they cannot win by military might. That leads to the understanding that diplomacy is the only answer.

  66. mommyknows says:

    Hey, where is the talking penis post?

  67. sarah g says:

    I’m glad that you took down the other post. It took away from sharing a real post here. People really do tend to get passionate about thing. There are many things that can fire people up; at least by avoiding apathy; change occurs.

  68. Neil says:

    Sarah G – You always give organized religion a good name.

  69. Great post! Thanks!

    While writing my novel for pre-teens, I did a lot of research on Christmas around the world. It is interesting how the different cultural versions of Santa Claus, or Saint Nicholas, or Father Christmas, and many more, all have one thing in common. That is, they remind us of the benefits of unselfish, anonymous, generosity. It’s the idea of giving that should be in focus; we are all on this planet together for the long run. So let’s be kind to one another.

    All the best,
    Eric Dana Hansen, Author of “IAN, CEO, North Pole”
    http://www.ianceonorthpole.com

  70. Hugh7 says:

    I only quoted the Rambam as a source for “The funniest thing I read on an anti-circ site” that “the bris was created by the ancient rabbis to “curb masturbation.” (He also said “The Sages, may their memory be blessed, have explicitly stated: It is hard for a woman with whom an uncircumcised man has had sexual intercourse to separate from him. In my opinion this is the strongest of the reasons for circumcision.” – though to me the last line is a non-sequitur.)

    Danny is quite right, Mark and I and some others have Google alerts for “circumcision” and “foreskin” (but I for one don’t have one for “brit milah”, let alone “metzitzah b’ peh”) and we go around the web putting the case against cutting parts off babies’ or children’s genitals (of any sex) for any reason except pressing medical need. It’s called Intactivism, and it’s an emerging human rights movement. Of course we have our extremists. Brit Milah is only a tiny part of the issue, but one with a high profile. I appreciate that it grew out of a collective tradition in which the individual hardly existed, but that time is over. From our point of view, we’re not anti-Semitic because it’s not about the Judaism, just the cutting of babies. A disproportionate number of Intactivists are Jews, and a list of celebrants (including some rabbis) of non-surgical ceremonies is at http://shalom.notlong.com .

    In your search for a measure of the harm of circumcision, I suggest you don’t confine yourself to the Jewish rite, because the outcomes are not fundamentally different, and when doctors are brought in to repair the damage, they don’t record (and may not even know) whether it was religious or not. A list of complications is at
    http://www.circumstitions.com/Complic.html

    “We don’t stop certain activities just because they might have danger attached to them.” Yes, certain activities like bungy jumping that are undertaken by consenting adults at their own risk. Circumcision is not just a “weird rite” (your words) it is a peculiarly invasive permanent modification of someone else’s body – nothing like wearing a burqa. As a human rights issue in the western world, infant circumcision – whether Jewish or Islamic or “cultural” or “routine” – is anomalous and anachronistic.

  71. Jack says:

    In your search for a measure of the harm of circumcision, I suggest you don’t confine yourself to the Jewish rite

    That is another way of saying that from a statistical standpoint almost no infants are harmed. And without numbers your allegation just doesn’t hold up.

    A disproportionate number of Intactivists are Jews

    It doesn’t lend any more weight to the fairy tales you try to promulgate. Just demonstrates that we have our share of people who just don’t get it.

  72. headbang8 says:

    Yes, Neil, the political realities mitigate against generosity.

    It’s counterintuitive. Or is it?

    It’s like this. The victor says “I will give you reasons not to hate me, but you have to stop hating me first.” After you’ve just been defeated, that ain’t likely.

    Really, the first steps in mutual forgiveness need to come from the victor, not the vanquished. And maybe even the second and third steps, given the history of the conflict.

  73. headbang8 says:

    And yes, where is that talking dick post? I thought I got off one of my finer ripostes in my comment on it.

  74. JChevais says:

    Re: Neil’s presence as a mommyblogger and the next topic being breastfeeding, behold:

    http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/20193

    With all the rant fodder in your post, why is it that very few people are interested in talking about the atrocities in Israel? Or the Holocost?

    Are these not controversial subjects? Helas, it is apparent that your readers are only interested in knobs… 😉

    No idea if it is politically correct of me to say so. Not sure it matters really.

    Now, I must know because it’s been driving me potty: Could you explain to me, you can use little words if you like, what makes wine “kosher”? Am dead curious and ask myself the same question every time I pass the “cacher” wine section in my local French grocery…

  75. sassy says:

    If it makes you feel any better about 1/3 of Europeans (or at least the French) they are just plain all around flat out racist. I have had conversations where someone will openly make a statement in a large group of people about ‘not liking Arabs’ or ‘Did you see how black his girfriend was? I just don’t like black people, they smell’ or ‘Are we in China or in France because all this yellow is gtting to me.’- SERIOUSLY. Oh, and the Jews? I’ve heard them compared to the illumanati.

    Did I mention not having many friends here?

    Oh, and the froggy hubs? Not circumcised. (He’s persuaded it’s an American thing.)

  76. JChevais says:

    My comment might have been too flip. I really am curious and silly enough to not understand big words. I’m not “taking the piss”.

    Where in the world do the British get these witticisms?

  77. Neil says:

    JChevais – it isn’t flip at all. Most Jews are confused about what makes some innocent food products like wine kosher. I mean grapes are kosher, so what is the problem? Like in any religion, there are levels of “strictness,” and sometimes, whether for good or bad, the ones who most adhere to the letter run the show. That wine is kosher usually means that the facility is run to certain standards — there are no preservatives that may come from something non-kosher, the same plant doesn’t also manufacture bacon next door — there are a whole list of things that are checked before they get the kosher sign. I am far from an expert in this matter, because I don’t keep kosher, but in layman’s terms — there is a sliding scale of how kosher you are depending on how strict you want to be. However, when there is a Jewish ceremony or event, everyone tries to go for the stricter level, just out of respect for those who follow it.

    Here’s a Wikipedia article about kosher wine — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kosher_wine

    To me, the concept of kosher wine sounds a little far-fetched, almost as if it is there to create a new business, but then again, religion is pretty wacky —

  78. Hugh7 says:

    “Can you really compare the bris to female genital mutilation?”

    “…compare male circumcision … to female genital mutilation which is total insanity.”

    These articulate circumcised African women do exactly that – in order to justify their custom: http://www.thepatrioticvanguard.com/article.php3?id_article=3752

  79. Jane says:

    Being articulate does not mean one can’t also be wrong. There are plenty of very articulate Republicans, for instance. (My levity for the day).

    I would not even attempt to argue with someone who compares an infant’s circumcision with a 5-7 year old girl’s genital torture, because I have found that one cannot argue reasonably with unreasonable people. It is obvious to any rational person that the cultural reasons for circumcision and genital mutilation are quite different, as is the amount of pain, the short and long term affects, the psychological and physical trauma.

    Incidentally, there are also risks for boys associated with being uncircumcised, such as ballooning, UTI’s, and foreskin infections. Parents of uncircumcised boys have to be educated and diligent about penile for several years beyond infancy, or until the child is old enough to handle his own hygiene.

    No matter which route a parent chooses, it is ultimately a parental choice.

  80. Hugh7 says:

    Did Jane read what the women have to say? They deny sexual harm and minimise pain and damage. Their cultural reasons for genital cutting seem all too familiar (it bonds them to their tribe…), and these are women who have undergone the procedure. (I’m not defending it for a moment, but as a human rights issue, sauce for the goose…)

    Three-quarters of the men in the world don’t seem to have significant problems keeping all the genitals they were born with; ballooning is perfectly normal; of 1000 circumcisions to prevent UTIs, 991 are wasted – by the circumcision advocates’ own figures; the foreskin is no more prone to infections than any other part of the body, and requires no special attention – in fact meddling with it causes more problems than it prevents.

    “No matter which route a parent chooses, it is ultimately a parental choice.” And that’s exactly what the circumcised women say.

  81. Jane says:

    I don’t argue with unreasonable people.

  82. Pingback: The February Just Posts « collecting tokens

  83. Pingback: Cold Spaghetti » Blog Archive » Just Posts for a Just World: February 2009

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  85. Loukia says:

    Wow. I think you need to write more posts like this! I mean, you probably do, but I’m new her. So. Great post. Well said. And please don’t hate me because I’m from Europe. I’m Greek. Most of us are nice. And not ignorant and stupid. I’m a Canadian-Greek, so that makes it better. 😉

  86. Pingback: Best of the 2009 Just Posts: The Semifinalists « collecting tokens

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  88. Pingback: Cold Spaghetti :: The Best of the Just Posts for 2009: Semi-finalists!

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