Jewish Society President Henri Goldstein ventured that a possible ban, backed by 86 percent of Danes and several parliamentary parties, would effectively spell an end for Danish Jewry.
The Danish parliament is scheduled to consider a bill proposing a ban on non-medical circumcision of minors.
The bill was submitted last month by former interior minister Simon Emil Ammitzboll-Bille, who leads the newly founded party Forward, a centrist party based on liberal values.
“I don’t think cutting little boys should be legal in connection with an old, religious ritual”, Ammitzboll-Bille wrote on Facebook. “That’s my principled stance. That a person’s body belongs to them and that young men should get to decide whether they want to be circumcised. That’s why I am in favour of introducing an age limit of 18 years for non-medical circumcision”.
While Denmark’s largest parties, the ruling Social Democrats and the opposition liberal-conservative Venstre are yet to make up their minds about circumcision, several parties, including the New Right, the Danish People’s Party, and the Socialist People’s Party, are in favour of a ban. Therefore, it is yet an open question whether there is a majority in favour of a ban.
Henri Goldstein, the president of the Jewish Society in Denmark, suggested that the proposed measure represents “the worst threat since World War II” to the country’s Jewish community, who traditionally circumcise baby boys on their eighth day of life in a ritual known as brit milah.
Henri Goldstein argued that the entire basis for being a Jew in Denmark is at stake. Therefore, he ventured the nascent crisis is even greater than when the Copenhagen synagogue suffered a terrorist attack in 2015, as the change of law “threatens the very existence of a Jewish community”.
“The Jewish community will slowly but surely perish because we cannot practice the religion. Circumcision is not just something used by the very religious Jews. It is employed by pretty much everyone in the Jewish congregation. Religious, non-religious, and cultural Jews. Everyone sticks to circumcision”, Goldstein told Danish Radio.
Whether people would either flee Denmark or assimilate it would still mean dropping Judaism, he concluded.
The Danish People’s Party took the alarming messaging from the Jewish Society calmly.
“I think these are empty threats. I don’t believe that a circumcision ban means leaving one’s religion. There are very many Jews who themselves are uncircumcised and practice their Judaism without being circumcised. A man’s religion cannot be wrested in a circumcised penis”, said Liselott Blixt of the Danish People’s Party.
Circumcision of boys, which is practiced by Muslims, Jews, and even some Christians, has been hotly debated since a number of medical and healthcare companies left a working group under the Danish Agency for Patient Safety, which was to prepare a new guide on ritual circumcision.
The Danish Society for Anesthesiology and Intensive Care has been particularly critical of circumcision, as it was planned that circumcision could be performed under local anaesthesia, as opposed to general anaesthesia.
The proposal to ban the circumcision of minors is backed by 86 percent of Danes, according to TV2.