If San Francisco succeeds in banning circumcision, some good may come of it.
Let me explain. I am a passionate advocate of Jewish ritual circumcision — the ritual circumcision of 8-day-old Jewish boys. I am even an advocate of circumcision generally. I was recently in Africa — in Zimbabwe and Zambia — where I delivered mosquito nets and seeds to the poorest of Africa’s poor. I saw giant billboards there, as well as in neighboring Botswana, exhorting men to get circumcised. The World Health Organization estimates that male circumcision reduces the rate of heterosexually transmitted AIDS by about 60 percent.
As regards Jewish ritual circumcision, I can only say that I cried like a baby at the brit milah of my two sons. All I could think of was that I had been given the gift of transmitting Jewish identity in an unbroken chain that dates back to Abraham, 3,600 years ago.
I find the arguments of those who campaign against the brit milah either specious or ludicrous. The notion that some terrible, lasting pain is inflicted on the baby is over the top. The average time the baby cries is probably well under the time it cries — and far less frantic than — when tired or desiring milk. I fully understand the conflicted feelings of the mother, and I see no reason for her to be present.
Does the baby experience pain and discomfort afterward? Yes. But it is temporary, and the baby heals quickly.
The advantages wildly outweigh the momentary pain. The brit uniquely strengthens a Jew’s commitment to Judaism and instills in the family and the community a profound identification with the Jewish people and with nearly four millennia of world-changing values.
As for the argument that the foreskin is important, I can only say that in my most self-pitying moments I cannot recall lamenting not having foreskin. As I have told anti-circumcision activists on my radio show, you have to be pretty bored with life to be preoccupied with not having your foreskin.
One might add that the same people who are profoundly upset over the removal of foreskin rarely have a problem with the removal of a living human fetus. San Francisco considers protecting the human fetus religious fanaticism, but is seriously considering protecting a newborn’s foreskin.
So, then, given my profound support for circumcision, what good could possibly come from San Francisco passing a ban on it?
If the most left-wing major city in America starts arresting Jews who have their children circumcised in that city, some American Jews might awaken to the threat to Jews posed by the left. Obviously, San Francisco’s already-existing bans on toys in Happy Meals, on soda in city-owned places and on plastic bags, and the city’s proposed ban on the sale of pets, even goldfish, have not moved many Jews (and non-Jews) to begin wondering whether left-wing governance is dangerous. But perhaps a ban on circumcision will.
Of course, not everyone who is on the left — and certainly not the traditional liberal — is an enemy of the Jews. But, aside from Islamists, virtually all the enemies of the Jews are on the left.
The worldwide campaign to delegitimize Israel, i.e., to pave the way for moral acceptance of Israel’s destruction — is virtually all on the left. Universities in America and elsewhere in the Western world as well as the mainstream news media outlets around the globe are all dominated by the left, and they drum into their students’ and readers’ and listeners’ and viewers’ minds that Israel is one of the worst societies on earth.
Yet, most American Jews still walk around thinking that Christians and the right are their enemies when, in fact, they are the best friends Jews have in the world today. From the present conservative Canadian government, which is probably the most vocal pro-Israel country in the world today, to every major right-wing talk host in America (including the pro-Jewish and pro-Israel Glenn Beck, who has been libeled as an anti-Semite), to the leader of Holland’s right-wing party and member of the Dutch parliament, Geert Wilders (one of the most eloquent pro-Israel voices in Europe today), to conservative writer Kevin Myers, the most pro-Israel columnist in Ireland, to the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page — the right is where our friends are.
For all these reasons, there is this still, small voice inside me that hopes that if San Francisco bans circumcision, a few more Jews will put two and two together and begin to realize that this is merely one more expression of the threat the left in America and elsewhere poses to the Jewish people.
What will it take for this generation of Jewish leftists to realize what Arthur Koestler, perhaps the most prominent Jewish leftist of a previous generation, came to realize — that leftism is “the god that failed”? A San Francisco ban on the oldest practice of the Jewish people? The City of Berkeley declaring Marines “unwelcome intruders”? PETA arguing that there is no moral difference between barbecuing chickens and cremating Jews? The ostracizing of the Jewish state from the world community by institutions dominated by the left?
Whatever it takes, the sooner the better.