Statement of Eran Sadeh, Founder of Protect the Child, Israel, at the presse conference in German Bundespressekonferenz on September 12th 2012
My name is Eran Sadeh. I am Israeli. I am Jewish.
I came from Israel to address Chancellor Angela Merkel, members of the Bundestag, the German people and any parent in the world who intends to circumcise his or her child.
I was born 43 years ago in Tel Aviv, a healthy baby with a perfect body. 8 days after I was born one man held my tiny legs down while another man cut a part of my penis off with a knife.
I was in pain, I screamed, I bled. It’s over. But the part that was cut off from my penis is forever gone.
36 years later my son was born. Two days before his planned circumcision, while searching online for recommendations on the doctor-mohel we chose, I stumbled upon the following paragraph from The Guide for the Perplexed by Maimonides, the great Jewish philosopher:
“As regards circumcision, I think that one of its objects is to limit sexual intercourse, and to weaken the organ of generation as far as possible, and thus cause man to be moderate. Some people believe that circumcision is to remove a defect in man's formation; but every one can easily reply: How can products of nature be deficient so as to require external completion, especially as the use of the foreskin to that organ is evident. The bodily injury
caused to that organ is exactly that which is desired; This is, as I believe, the best reason for the commandment concerning circumcision.”
I was so amazed by this text, so I went on to read every piece of information I could find about the part that was cut off from my penis. The more I read and understood the anatomy and functions of the foreskin, the more it became impossible to escape the painful and enraging realization that my body was violated, that my penis was damaged and diminished in its capacity to sense pleasure, and that I will never be able to experience and enjoy sex as nature intended it.
The amputation of the foreskin removes a highly erogenous tissue the size of an index card on a male adult. A man who is missing that covering tissue of the penile shaft, feels less pleasure, because he does not have the thousands of nerve endings that went with the tissue that was amputated. The foreskin serves as a protective sleeve that slides up and down the penile shaft, reduces friction and stimulates the specialized nerve endings and the head of the penis and so it makes for more comfortable and pleasurable sex for both partners.
I went on to read with disgust a description of the Jewish ritual circumcision, including the peri'ah, which is scraping the remaining inner lining of the foreskin from the glans, done with the mohel’s fingernails (which he elongates and sharpens especially for that task), and the metiztzah b'peh (where the mohel puts his mouth over the bleeding penis and sucks the blood).
And make no mistake: these are mandatory requirements by Jewish law.I found reports showing that in Israel alone hundreds of baby boys are rushed every year to emergency rooms and operating rooms to treat complications following the amputation of the foreskin.
I learned that studies show that the pain suffered by the baby during circumcision is traumatic and adversely affects his reactions to pain later in life and I read testimonies by mothers about the screaming of their boys during the healing period, when the open circumcision wound comes in contact with urine. To assess the extent of the pain and suffering, one only needs to witness a circumcision and watch the baby screams and helplessly flailing his hands.
I also learned, and that was very reassuring, that Jews in Israel and all over the world, in ever growing numbers, choose to leave their sons intact.
Thanks to all the information that was revealed to me that day, my wife and I also decided to leave our son intact so I called the doctor-mohel and cancelled the scheduled circumcision.
As you can see, circumcision is nothing but a euphemism for forcibly amputating a healthy body part of a helpless child, causing irreversible bodily damage and pain and putting the child at risk.
All this in the name of religion and tradition.
This will not do in a country that protects children’s human rights, especially the right to bodily integrity and the right to equal protection by the law.Religious Jewish leaders, in an attempt to block any criticism of circumcision, accuse Germany of anti-Semitism.
I condemn this accusation.
I, and many like me in Israel, believe that the move to ban circumcision of minors in Germany, which is supported by the majority of the people here, has nothing to do with anti-Semitism and everything to do with respecting the human rights of the child.
It is important to note that circumcision is not a prerequisite to Jewish identity. According to Jewish law the child takes the status of his mother, so if the mother is Jewish, the boy is Jewish, whether circumcised or not.
Religiously motivated circumcisions must never be performed by doctors, because it is a betrayal of the first rule of bioethics: Do No Harm. An amputation of a healthy body part of a non-consenting minor without medical indication is an assault that causes bodily damage.
Nothing can change this fact.
The only legal and ethical way out of this, is postponing circumcision to an age when a person can legally consent to amputate a part of his penis. This solution does limit the freedom of religion. But it is only temporary.
If, however, you forcibly amputate the foreskin of a child when he is a minor and cannot give consent, you trump his right to bodily integrity for ever.
I subscribe to the petition issued by the Deutsche Kinderhilfe to allow for a public and legal and medical debate before any legislation that violates constitutional rights of children to bodily integrity and equal protection is passed by the Bundestag.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, the movement to eradicate forced circumcision of minors is a global movement. All over the world, men like myself who are hurt by the amputation of their foreskin, mothers and fathers who against their will hurt their children because of religion and tradition and social pressure to conform, parents who are brave enough not to conform, scholars from every discipline and ordinary people who are appalled by this harmful and painful and immoral practice, they all have their eyes on you, on Germany, to take the lead in protecting children’s human rights.
I will now say a few words in Hebrew.
I hereby call Jews in Israel and anywhere in the world: learn about the advantages of an intact penis, learn about the disadvantages of a cut penis, and join the unstoppable movement of tens of thousands of Jews all over the world who welcome their sons to the world without violating their bodily integrity, without hurting them, and without putting them at risk. There ends a year and its maledictions and a new one begins with its blessings. Happy New Year