Iceland’s Proposed Ban on Circumcision Puts It at the Forefront of Western Europe’s Crusade against Religion

March 5 2018

The Icelandic parliament is currently considering a measure that would prohibit parents from having their male children circumcised. Noting that Iceland is not the first Western country to consider such a measure, Melanie Philips comments:

The Icelandic bill is drawing on increasing hostility within Europe to the practice [of circumcision]. In Britain, a survey by the National Secular Society indicates that some 62 percent want Britain to follow Iceland’s example. Nor is this the only attack on religious rites. There are also bans on ritual slaughter [of animals for food] in Denmark, New Zealand, Switzerland, and other European countries and jurisdictions.

Although these are attacks on Islam as well as on Judaism, they threaten Jewish religious life most of all. . . . Muslims are more flexible over ritual slaughter by allowing a measure of animal stunning which Jews cannot permit. Circumcision bans are most threatening of all to Jewish life because the circumcision of eight-day-old boys . . . is absolutely fundamental to Judaism. . . .

The secularists deny that their campaign against circumcision is anti-Jewish. Yet as one British commentator has observed, “some of the most virulent anti-Semitism on Twitter is obsessed with foreskins and pictures of demonic rabbis holding knives.”

The self-delusion of such campaigners is remarkable. In 2013, the leading Norwegian daily Dagbladet published a caricature of what appeared to be Jews torturing a baby during a circumcision. The cartoonist, Tomas Drefvelin, said he meant no criticism of either a specific religion or a nation but a general criticism of religions. . . .

Resistance to Islamist extremism in Britain and Europe has fueled a general climate of intolerance toward religion in general. There is now a widespread and growing view that distinctive practices marking out religious ways of life are equally divisive, threatening, or abhorrent. Yet at the same time such critics deny their target is religion.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Circumcision, Europe, Freedom of Religion, Religion & Holidays, Secularism

Syria’s Downing of a Russian Plane Put Israel in the Crosshairs

Sept. 21 2018

On Monday, Israeli jets fired missiles at an Iranian munitions storehouse in the northwestern Syrian city of Latakia. Shortly thereafter, Syrian personnel shot down a Russian surveillance plane with surface-to-air missiles, in what seems to be a botched and highly incompetent response to the Israeli attack. Moscow first responded by blaming Jerusalem for the incident, but President Putin then offered more conciliatory statements. Yesterday, Russian diplomats again stated that Israel was at fault. Yoav Limor comments:

What was unusual [about the Israeli] strike was the location: Latakia [is] close to Russian forces, in an area where the IDF hasn’t been active for some time. The strike itself was routine; the IDF notified the Russian military about it in advance, the missiles were fired remotely, the Israeli F-16s returned to base unharmed, and as usual, Syrian antiaircraft missiles were fired indiscriminately in every direction, long after the strike itself was over. . . .

Theoretically, this is a matter between Russia and Syria. Russia supplied Syria with the SA-5 [missile] batteries that wound up shooting down its plane, and now it must demand explanations from Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. That won’t happen; Russia was quick to blame Israel for knocking over the first domino, and as usual, sent conflicting messages that make it hard to parse its future strategy. . . .

From now on, Russia will [almost certainly] demand a higher level of coordination with Israel and limits on the areas in which Israel can attack, and possibly a commitment to refrain from certain actions. Syria, Iran, and Hizballah will try to drag Russia into “handling” Israel and keeping it from continuing to carry out strikes in the region. Israel . . . will blame Iran, Hizballah, and Syria for the incident, and say they are responsible for the mess.

But Israel needs to take rapid action to minimize damage. It is in Israel’s strategic interest to keep up its offensive actions to the north, mainly in Syria. If that action is curtailed, Israel’s national security will be compromised. . . . No one in Israel, and certainly not in the IDF or the Israel Air Force, wants Russia—which until now hasn’t cared much about Israel’s actions—to turn hostile, and Israel needs to do everything to prevent that from happening. Even if that means limiting its actions for the time being. . . . Still, make no mistake: Russia is angry and has to explain its actions to its people. Israel will need to walk a thin line between protecting its own security interests and avoiding a very unwanted clash with Russia.

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More about: Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Russia, Syrian civil war