Published June 07, 2011
How dare they?
For 35 years I’ve been involved in fighting the world’s oldest hate, anti-Semitism, wherever it rears its ugly head from Soviet Russia, to the Mullahtocracy in Iran, and Chavez's bullies in Venezuela.
And now, from the Western World's beacon of Enlightenment, San Francisco comes a proposed new diktat that would criminalize a central tenet of Judaism by jailing and fining Jews like me for having our 8-day-old boys ritually circumcised.
To be sure, this isn't the first time Jewish practices have been outlawed; just the first time in a democracy. The organizers of San Francisco's campaign have historic precedent dating back to 167 BC, when Antiochus IV, a Greek ruler, ban of circumcision in the Holy Land, helped spark the Maccabean revolt. A few hundred years later, another tyrant, Hadrian, the most anti-Semitic Roman ruler ever who sought to crush the Jewish nation once and for all, banned this practice as well.
During the Stalin era, Mohels, the pious practioners of this biblical commandment, performed the banned ancient rite in great secrecy. Some of those caught were jailed, sent to the Gulag and/or killed by the NKVD.
Hitler’s Final Solution murdered 1.5 million Jewish kids. Racist Nazi law forbade Germans from following the abhorrent practice of circumcision as an affront to the image of the pure Aryan race.
What motivates today’s ‘activists’? One San Francisco campaigner, Matthew Hess, leaves nothing to the imagination. In the true spirit of the finest Nazi propaganda he created a comic book deploying classic anti-Semitic caricatures of hooked-nosed “monster Mohels” confronted by an Aryan blonde- haired, blue- eyed “Foreskin Man” hero.
Others may detest the central message of Jewish circumcision: Not everything that is “natural” in this world is perfect. Humans are supposed to perfect our world through their own actions, indeed improving upon what G-d created. The good Lord deliberately left room for that, to challenge us to act.
These fanatics cannot tolerate such talk from people apparently stupid enough to believe religion should be a guide for living. In their vision of “the more perfect union” there is room only for their “enlightened” values.
I imagine that among the self-anointed anti-circumcision campaigners are people who don’t detest Jews or Jewish values. But too many do.
Memo to San Francisco voters: The world’s oldest hatred will only be dead and buried when you stop tolerating it and exact a price for bigotry.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper is associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.