Circumcision of Boys – for Jews only?
By Lasse Wilhelmson
Göran Rosenberg (1) puts forward two ethnocentric arguments in an article published in the Swedish daily newspaper, SvD. It is the final article in a discussion on circumcision.
The first is that the proposed ban on circumcision, ”… targets, with great precision, mainly the Jewish minority in Sweden …” But surely Göran it affects Swedish Muslims too, and ultimately, as a matter of principle and ethics, also the mildest forms of genital mutilation of girls? Is it not simply a case of Jews wishing to preserve their position as God’s own people by sex-marking themselves as ”the chosen”? If this is indeed so important, is there really no other kind of ”christening” that could serve the same purpose?
Secondly, you say that the very fact that the proposed ban is raised by ”…persons and groups within society that lack any direct contact with the issue….”, is an expression of ”ethnic and cultural hectoring.” As with your first point, this argument also lacks principle and ethics. If all minority interests in Sweden were observed at the expense of public interest, we would find ourselves in a minorities´ dictatorship instead of a society that prioritises public interest, albeit not categorically.
Surely there must always be a balance between public interest and minority interest – even for Jews? You seem to be saying that only the arguments put forward by a group that represents minority interests should be taken into account, which, to me, seems contradictory. I would appreciate more clarity here.
You argue, too, that ”A child’s christening cannot be undone either..”. There are indeed good reasons for waiting until adulthood before choosing a religion. However, is there not a difference between permanent physical interference in a child’s sex-organs and a christening?
Freedom of religion can never mean that everything done in the name of religion can be ethically excused, not even elements which, during the course of history, have become ”culture”, something which Jews debating the subject are quick to point out in the case of Islam and Muslim culture.
Albeit much good has also been done in the name of religion, appalling historical and contemporary examples, regardless of which religion, should give us food for thought.
1. Göran Rosenberg is one of the most prominent Jewish writers in Sweden. His book The lost land: A personal history, 1996, is translated to several languages. He was a former Marxist in the 68-movement, and a founder of the Swedish Palestinian Solidarity Movement. Today he seems to be more concerned about Jewish tribalism.