Israel president asks Germany to back circumcision

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Israel's president is urging Germany to protect the custom of ritual circumcision, joining a chorus of Israeli officials and Jewish groups concerned about a German regional court which ruled that the practice amounts to physical abuse.

In a letter Thursday to German President Joachim Gauck, Israeli President Shimon Peres said circumcision is a crucial Jewish custom which has been practiced for thousands of years.

The Israeli president praised Germany for vowing to pass legislation to protect the practice. Germany's Justice Ministry says it will submit a draft law by the autumn.

The debate over circumcision was rekindled after a German doctor accused a rabbi of harming a child.

A Jewish think tank in Israel on Thursday said the circumcision debate could threaten the future of Jewish communities in Europe.