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.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

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

To Undermine Russian and Iranian Influence in Syria, the U.S. Must Go on the Offensive

March 22 2018

When Iranian-lead, pro-Assad forces attacked U.S. allies in Syria last month, they found themselves quickly overwhelmed by American firepower. The incident, writes Tony Badran, makes clear that the U.S. has the capability to push back against the Damascus-Tehran-Moscow axis. By taking a more aggressive approach while working closely with Israel, Badran argues, Washington can at once prevent Russia and Iran from cementing their control of Syria and avoid getting drawn into a wider conflict:

Israeli assets can augment U.S. capabilities considerably. A few days after the skirmish in Deir Ezzour in February, Iran flew a drone into Israeli air space. Israel responded by destroying the Iranian command center at the Tiyas military air base near Palmyra, and then proceeded to bomb a large number of Iranian and Assad-regime targets. The episode again underscored the vulnerability of Iran, to say nothing of the brittle Assad regime. Close coordination with Israel to expand this ongoing targeting campaign against Iranian and Hizballah infrastructure, senior cadres, and logistical routes, and amplifying it with U.S. assets in the region, would have a devastating effect on Iran’s position in Syria.

By going on the offensive, the U.S. will also strengthen Israel’s hand with Russia, reducing Jerusalem’s need to petition the Kremlin and thereby diminishing Moscow’s ability to position itself as an arbiter on Israeli security. For instance, instead of haggling with Russia to obtain its commitment to keep Iran five or seven kilometers away from the Israeli border, the U.S. could adopt the Israeli position on Iran’s entrenchment in Syria and assist Israel in enforcing it. Such a posture would have a direct effect on another critical ally, Jordan, whose role is of high importance in southern Syria and in the U.S. zone in the east.

Assad and Iran are the scaffolding on which the Russian position stands. Targeting them, therefore, undercuts Moscow and reduces its leverage. By merely forcing Russia to respect Israeli and Jordanian needs on the border, the U.S. would undermine Russia’s attempt, more generally, to leverage its position in Syria to make headway into the U.S. alliance system. In addition to adopting a more offensive military posture, the U.S. should also intensify the economic chokehold on Assadist Syria.

Read more at Caravan

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Politics & Current Affairs, Russia, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy