I have three contact prints (photographic images produced from film) from May 1952 which show my tough uncle Yosef Nashivirsky holding a newborn, me, while my father Yisrael Sarna, being sensitive to blood and pain, is turning away so as not to witness his son being butchered. The thick-bearded mohel is skillfully performing on the part of my body that is most sensitive to pain and pleasure the ancient ritual of removing the foreskin.
It was this ritual - which is "primitive" when it is performed in other tribes but "forms an identity" when it is performed in your own tribe – that the Council of Europe
called out against. There is nothing anti-Semitic
about the Council's resolution.
Had I been consulted with as a newborn, I would have approved, on the spot, the Council's decision to ban circumcision
"before a child is old enough to be consulted." The Council is against this ritual just as it objects to other painful rituals, such as female genital mutilation and the ritual slaughter of animals.
I also think a circumcised penis is more esthetic than a non-circumcised one, but this does not diminish the pain that is caused to the innocent newborn. It is also possible that as a result of the circumcision ritual, which was also performed on my son with my approval, we experience less sexual pleasure, which is one of the sources of happiness and joy in our adult lives.
There is no point in trying to look for anti-Semitism in every decision of the Western world, which is currently moving away from the darkness of the terrible religious and nationalistic wars towards an attempt to create a less cruel world. It's not such a bad idea for us either – to look at life from a European perspective. Europe has been through the worst and has drawn the necessary lessons. Now it is aware of the possibility of negotiating, weakening nationalism, seeking agreements and introducing legislation which bans ancient rituals we have been performing blindly for a long.
I admit that I am closer in spirit to the Council of Europe than I am to the Council of Torah
Sages and those who swing chickens over their heads. And I'm proud of it.