Jewish Groups Defend Circumcision at Council of Europe Hearing

Past Resolution Equated Religious Rite to Female Genital Mutilation


By JTA

Published January 29, 2014.

Representatives of European Jewish groups defended ritual circumcision at a hearing of the Council of Europe.

Officials from the European Jewish Congress and the Conference of European Rabbis presented facts and defenses of Jewish male ritual circumcision during the hearing on Tuesday.

The hearing was called after the council’s Parliamentary Assembly, or PACE, passed a resolution last October suggesting that religious circumcision contravened “the rights of children’s physical integrity.” The resolution equated the ritual known as brit milah with female genital mutilation.

Rabbi Moche Lewin, executive director of the Conference of European Rabbis, said, “There is no doubt that we would prefer the issue of milah not to be on the political agenda at any level in Europe, but what was demonstrated today is that wherever it is discussed or debated, the Jewish communities of Europe will be unequivocal and robust in our defense of our fundamental religious rights.”

The resolution, while not binding on member states, has acted as a catalyst for anti-circumcision initiatives in several European states.

The Council of Europe is an intergovernmental organization that encourages dialogue and is not connected to the European Union.



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