Saturday, December 29, 2007
When his son was born, Reverend Louis DeCaro Jr. was dismayed to learn that none of the doctors on call at Manhattan’s Allen Pavilion hospital had time to perform the circumcision. At a loss, the DeCaros turned for advice to their Manhattan pediatrician, Andrew Mutnick, who offered a simple solution: Hire a Jewish ritual circumciser, known as a mohel. ...
PM: How about leaving your child's genitals alone as a "simple solution"?
Mutnick put the family in touch with Cantor Philip Sherman, an Orthodox mohel working in the tri-state area. Sherman says he has performed more than 18,000 circumcisions in his 30-year career. There were no piles of bagels and lox waiting in the next room, no family members on hand to celebrate, but the DeCaros developed an admiration for the ancient tradition informing Sherman’s work.
"When [a circumcision] is done by a mohel, you appreciate the gravity, the beauty of the religious connotations," DeCaro said in an interview with the Forward.PM: Hey, Rev, did the mohel use his mouth to suck your baby's bleeding penis after he cut it? That's an Orthodox tradition, too; it's called metzitzah b’peh. After all, you might as well get the whole works for your $700.
PM: What's that you say? You don't believe me and I'm just an anti-Semite spreading vicious lies. Well, in the US, the practice became better known outside the Jewish community in 2004 after Pediatrics published electronically (received for publication Nov. 20, 2003) a case study of eight baby boys infected by the ritual with herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). Four of the infected infants in the case study had "recurrent episodes of genital HSV infection" and one "developed HSV encephalitis with neurologic sequelae", that is, his brain became inflamed and was damaged. According to a 2003 article in an Israeli medical journal, "Other infectious diseases transmitted during ritual circumcision (and metsitsah) are syphilis and tuberculosis." At least three infants are believed to have been infected with herpes by a New York-area mohel, Rabbi Yitzchok Fischer, who refused to be tested for the virus by public health officials. According to the Forward, one of the babies died from the infection in October 2004. The Forward has written several articles on the New York area infections and despite the known risk mohalim are still putting their mouths on the bleeding penises of babies and sucking--it's a sacred practice donchaknow?
Manhattan pediatrician Susan Levitsky makes a point of recommending non-Jewish patients to mohels. Levitsky said she’s been passing out Sherman’s number more often these days, because concerns over hospital-bred infections are rising. "Why would you want to be around an environment with germs?" she asked.
PM: Hey, Doc, if you're concerned about infection, wouldn't it be safer still to not cut the baby in the first place? And keep the mohel's mouth away, too.
That’s precisely the question posed at www.holisticcircumcision.com, a site that Sherman set up for non-Jewish parents. On it, he describes a "quicker, gentler, and more humane" circumcision carried out without the use of "drugs, injections or creams" (he suggests sugar water or wine) in an environment that’s "spiritual and meaningful" instead of "clinical and cold."
PM: How about keeping your barbaric ritual away from vulnerable, unconsenting babies? There is nothing gentle or humane about excising tissue from one of the most sensitive areas of the human body for primitive ritualistic reasons.
Certain families have been won over by this nonritual gospel, despite the added cost.
While fees for hospital circumcisions are absorbed by the family’s health insurance, mohels charge between $700 and $750 for circumcisions performed in the New York area.PM: The procedure should be illegal when used on people who cannot meaningfully give their consent and should not be paid for by insurance. I guess they consider it insurance against the crisis of being born with a normal penis--"Whoops, that foreskin will have to go, good thing we had insurance."
PM: Hey, Reverend DeCaro, if, as I suspect, you are a Christian then you might want to crack open a Bible--you could have spared your child the pain and trauma. According to the Paul:
Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing; but obeying the commandments of God is everything.The second article is "Jewish Agency Gives Boardroom Clout to Ally of Evangelicals." Lots of interesting bits in this piece:
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love. ...
It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that try to compel you to be circumcised—only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. Even the circumcised do not themselves obey the law, but they want you to be circumcised so that they may boast about your flesh. May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything!-Galatians 5, 6; emphasis added
About a decade ago, the head of the Jewish Agency for Israel refused to be photographed taking a check from Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. This past week, the agency accepted a hefty donation from the evangelical-backed organization and offered Eckstein a seat on two of its most powerful committees.
Eckstein’s organization and the Jewish Agency, which helped found the State of Israel, announced that IFCJ would donate $45 million to the agency over the next three years, almost all of it raised from evangelical Christians in North America. ...
"For the first time, Christians, who are mainly my constituency, will have a seat at the table," Eckstein told the Forward.
PM: Yes, in the person of one Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, Christians who have lost their way and betrayed the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles "will have a seat at the table" of violence and racism but that, unfortunately, probably feels pretty normal for a lot of them.
The moves underscore the astonishing speed with which IFCJ and the evangelical movement in general have grown in stature as supporters of Israel. Even 10 years ago, Eckstein was shunned not only by Jewish Agency head Avraham Burg but also by many American donors.
Some Jewish leaders remain uneasy about allying themselves with evangelicals. But the support, both political and financial, seems to have proved irresistible.
... Traditionally, UJC and Keren Hayesod have supported the Jewish Agency, but support from both has been stagnant. The 2008 budget of the Jewish Agency shows a contribution of $138 million from UJC, down from $140 million the year before, and $44 million from Keren Hayesod, up slightly from $42 million the previous year. ...
With a decline in funding allocations to Israel from American Jews, and studies showing declining emotional attachment as well, donations and political support from evangelical Christians have become essential to Israel.
“I think we accept, with reservations, the political involvement of the evangelical community on behalf of Israel,” said Jewish Agency board member Richard Wexler, chairman of the United Israel Appeal. “It would be rather cynical, having accepted the political help, to reject the financial assistance which has become more and more vital given the reduction in allocations and financial distributions from the federation system in America.”
PM: One wonders what, if anything, Wexler would actually consider to be cynical.
Addendum: Judging from e-mail I've gotten, some of my readers are careless and/or lazy. So, for those special people I'm going to put references and quotes from two of the embedded links in the post here just for them.
First article: Benjamin Gesundheit, MD et al. "Neonatal Genital Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 Infection After Jewish Ritual Circumcision: Modern Medicine and Religious Tradition." Pediatrics Vol. 114 No. 2 August 2004, pp. e259-e263.
The authors write in the methods section:
There is no official registry in the United States or in Israel to document the incidence of medical complications after ritual circumcision. The percentage of metzitzah performed by oral versus instrumental suction could not be evaluated statistically.In the abstract, they conclude:
Ritual Jewish circumcision that includes metzitzah with direct oral–genital contact carries a serious risk for transmission of HSV from mohels to neonates, which can be complicated by protracted or severe infection. Oral metzitzah after ritual circumcision may be hazardous to the neonate. (emphasis added)Second article: Rotem Distel MD et al. "Primary Genital Herpes Simplex Infection Associated with Jewish Ritual Circumcision." Israel Medical Association Journal 2003; 5:893-894.
Several cases of transmission of infectious diseases during ritual circumcision have been documented. ... Other infectious diseases transmitted during ritual circumcision (and metsitsah) are syphilis and tuberculosis ... In conclusion, metsitsah performed as part of Jewish ritual circumcision involves orogenital contact and is thus associated with a risk of pathogen transmission between mohel and neonate. This is a real epidemiologic problem considering the thousands of circumcisions performed with metsitsah." (emphasis added)See also:
- "Gems from 'Jewish Medical Law' "
- "Jesus the Israelite"
- "Yes, A Blog Post About Circumcision"
- "Ralph & the Rabbi: a thinner Reed?" by Bill Berkowitz on MediaTransparency.org
- "Circumcision and HIV" on circumstitions.com
- "Doctors Opposing Circumcision HIV Statement" on doctorsopposingcircumcision.org
- "Mutilated Humanity" by Ashley Montagu (né Israel Ehrenberg) on nocirc.org
- "Mayor Balances Hasidic Ritual Against Fears for Babies' Health" NY Times (1/6/2006)
Friday, December 28, 2007
In point of fact, Hizbullah had killed three and captured two Israeli soldiers near the Lebanese border with occupied Palestine (aka Israel). The goal was to ease the murderous Zionist onslaught against Gaza and to obtain Zionist prisoners to be used in brokering an exchange for scores of Lebanese prisoners in Israel. In response, Israel unleashed "Operation Just Reward" (another reversal) and turned Lebanon into "free-fire zone," killing hundreds of Lebanese civilians.
Which, brings us to Eli Avny. According to the DJN, Avny was born in Israel and "fought in the 1973 Yom Kippur War." The rally to support Israeli agression and war crimes in July, 2006, was the brainchild of Avny and Carolyn Grawi. When paired with Seligman's recent visit to Israel this all begins to make sense. Avny obviously feels a deep connection and identification with the murderous "Jewish state" and his bloodlust was stirred up by the then-recent Israeli onslaught against the people of Lebanon. Just two weeks earlier, Avny had been cheering the slaughter on and, so, he was indignant at the protesters he saw on August 4, 2006, and decided to put the fear of Zionism in them. As with Seligman, Avny "could not believe people were allowed to stand around and behave as 'these folks are' " and like Seligman, he took action and walked away without even getting a traffic ticket for swerving his car dangerously close to protesters.
- Assault at Beth Israel Congregation
- More Violence Against anti-Zionist Dissidents
- Beth Israel Attackers Identified; One Charged
- Whatever Happened to Abraham Seligman?
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Statement by the Patriarch and Local Heads of Churches In Jerusalem
'Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.' (Matthew 5:9)
Christian Zionism is a modern theological and political movement that embraces the most extreme ideological positions of Zionism, thereby becoming detrimental to a just peace within Palestine and Israel. The Christian Zionist programme provides a worldview where the Gospel is identified with the ideology of empire, colonialism and militarism. In its extreme form, it laces an emphasis on apocalyptic events leading to the end of history rather than living Christ's love and justice today.
We categorically reject Christian Zionist doctrines as false teaching that corrupts the biblical message of love, justice and reconciliation.
We further reject the contemporary alliance of Christian Zionist leaders and organisations with elements in the governments of Israel and the United States that are presently imposing their unilateral pre-emptive borders and domination over Palestine. This inevitably leads to unending cycles of violence that undermine the security of all peoples of the Middle East and the rest of the world.
We reject the teachings of Christian Zionism that facilitate and support these policies as they advance racial exclusivity and perpetual war rather than the gospel of universal love, redemption and reconciliation taught by Jesus Christ. Rather than condemn the world to the doom of Armageddon we call upon everyone to liberate themselves from the ideologies of militarism and occupation. Instead, let them pursue the healing of the nations!
We call upon Christians in Churches on every continent to pray for the Palestinian and Israeli people, both of whom are suffering as victims of occupation and militarism. These discriminative actions are turning Palestine into impoverished ghettos surrounded by exclusive Israeli settlements. The establishment of the illegal settlements and the construction of the Separation Wall on confiscated Palestinian land undermines the viability of a Palestinian state as well as peace and security in the entire region.
We call upon all Churches that remain silent, to break their silence and speak for reconciliation with justice in the Holy Land.
Therefore, we commit ourselves to the following principles as an alternative way:
We affirm that all people are created in the image of God. In turn they are called to honour the dignity of every human being and to respect their inalienable rights.
We affirm that Israelis and Palestinians are capable of living together within peace, justice and security.
We affirm that Palestinians are one people, both Muslim and Christian. We reject all attempts to subvert and fragment their unity.
We call upon all people to reject the narrow world view of Christian Zionism and other ideologies that privilege one people at the expense of others.
We are committed to non-violent resistance as the most effective means to end the illegal occupation in order to attain a just and lasting peace.
With urgency we warn that Christian Zionism and its alliances are justifying colonisation, apartheid and empire-building.
God demands that justice be done. No enduring peace, security or reconciliation is possible without the foundation of justice. The demands of justice will not disappear. The struggle for justice must be pursued diligently and persistently but non-violently.
'What does the Lord require of you, to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.' (Micah 6:8)
This is where we take our stand. We stand for justice. We can do no other. Justice alone guarantees a peace that will lead to reconciliation with a life of security and prosperity for all the peoples of our Land. By standing on the side of justice, we open ourselves to the work of peace - and working for peace makes us children of God.
'God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.' (2 Cor 5:19)
His Beattitude Patriarch Michel Sabbah
Latin Patriarchate, Jerusalem
Archbishop Swerios Malki Mourad,
Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate, Jerusalem
Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal,
Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East
Bishop Munib Younan,
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Source: "How I Finally Learned To Stop Worrying and Love (Okay, Like) Christmas" by Jay Michaelson in the Jewish Daily Forward (Dec 19, 2007).
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
Author Marc Perelman writes "The American Jewish Committee last week became the first, and to date only, mainstream Jewish group to give strong public backing to proposed legislation that would ban the use of torture by American military, intelligence and law-enforcement personnel" and notes, "Most other Jewish organizations with prominent advocacy efforts in Washington, however, have been noticeably absent from efforts to push through the anti-torture legislation and from the broader national debate about the alleged use of enhanced interrogation techniques by American security forces."
Last month, the issue of waterboarding nearly derailed the Senate confirmation of federal judge Michael Mukasey as attorney general. During his confirmation hearings, Mukasey repeatedly refused to state that waterboarding constituted torture. ...The piece ends with some spin that should be instructive about the whole matter vis-a-vis the Jewish community:
Mukasey is Jewish, as is his chief supporter in the Senate, New York Democrat Charles Schumer. ...
As the anti-terrorist measures adopted by the Bush administration come under increasing fire, Jewish groups have been scrambling to find the right balance between national security concerns and their traditional defense of human rights.
The executive director of Rabbis for Human Rights-North America, Rabbi Brian Walt, said that the reluctance of a large segment of the organized Jewish community to speak out against harsh interrogation techniques stems partly from the belief that torture may help to prevent terrorist attacks, as well as from concern that heightened scrutiny of American security forces’ methods could draw increased attention to Israel’s own interrogation practices.The good Rabbi just told a bald-faced lie (or else he is willfully ignorant). The Supreme Court of Israel functionally legalized torture in its 1999 ruling in The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel vs. The Government of Israel et al. As Norman Finkelstein has pointed in Beyond Chutzpah (p. 165), even pro-Israel torture advocate Alan Dershowitz, "himself acknowledged that it did not absolutely prohibit torture: '[T]he Supreme Court left open the possibility that a member of the security service who honestly believed that rough interrogation was the only means available to save lives in imminent danger could raise this defense.' "
“This is ironic,” he said, noting that Israel’s Supreme Court banned torture in 1999, “since Israel has a better record than the U.S. on this.”
B'Tselem and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel have shown that the ruling did virtually nothing to impede the routine use of torture by agents of the Israeli government. Torture is and has long been routine in the Jewish state. According to the December, 2006, report of the United Against Torture Coalition to Combat Torture in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories: "Under Israeli criminal law, there is no specific offence of torture." Take a look also at "Report: High Court permits torture of Palestinians" in the 5/30/07 online edition of the Israeli newspaper, Yediot Ahronot.
Addendum: Jeffrey Blankfort read the same Forward article that I did, below are his comments from a 12/20/07 e-mail. The formatting is Blankfort's with the text in bold being quoted from the Forward article and the added hyperlink is mine.
"There was a shocking silence of the Jewish community on the issue of torture, and there is still a lacuna on this vital issue, to my eye," said Felice Gaer, director of the AJCommittee's Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights. "All Americans, Jewish and non-Jewish, need to be more vocal on this matter… Jews particularly know that torture is antithetical to everything in our tradition, ethics and outlook."See also:
The only reason that the AJ Committee is taking this position is because it functions as the international arm, the State Dept., if you will, of the American Jewish establishment and in its overseas dealings it has to be above reproach on this issue. It's main task at the moment as it has been for the past two years is to drum up support for a US attack on Iran.
"This is ironic," he said, noting that Israel’s Supreme Court banned torture in 1999, "since Israel has a better record than the U.S. on this."
It sure is ironic because one of the known methods of torture that has been used by US soldiers in Iran and Afghanistan is what is known as "Palestinian hanging." Now who could possible have invented that? And does anyone, including the person who said this, seriously believe that Israel has stopped torturing arrestees? JB
- Israelis No. 1 in Supporting Torture
- Jews and Torture
- Rabbi Dobrusin Tortures the Truth
- Chuck Don't Need No Stinkin' Facts
- Jews and Torture Update II