Israel calls on Council of Europe to rescind anti-circumcision resolution 4 Oct 2013
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
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 Israel calls on Council of Europe to rescind anti-circumcision resolution

10/4/2013

​Circumcision of male children is an ancient religious tradition of two important  religions, Judaism and Islam. Claims that circumcision harms young boys’ health and body are false, and do not rest on any scientific evidence. ​
​(Communicated by the MFA Spokesperson)

After the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution against circumcision, Israel calls on the Council to rescind immediately the resolution.
Circumcision of male children is an ancient religious tradition of two important  religions, Judaism and Islam, and it is also common among some Christian circles. Any comparison of this tradition to the reprehensible and barbaric practice of female genital mutilation is either appalling ignorance, at best, or defamation and anti-religious hatred, at worst. 
Claims that circumcision harms young boys’ health and body are false, and do not rest on any scientific evidence. Rather the contrary is true. For example, an official paper published by the American Academy of Pediatrics in August 2012  shows the health benefits of newborn male circumcision.
The resolution of the PACE constitutes, therefore, an intolerable attack both on the respectable and ancient religious tradition that lies at the base of European culture, and on modern medical science and its findings.
This resolution casts a moral stain on the Council of Europe, and fosters hate and racist trends in Europe. We call on the Council of Europe to act without delay in order to annul it.
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On October 6, the President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, sent a letter to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Mr. Thorbjorn Jagland regarding the recent decision by the Council of Europe on ritual circumcision. President Peres asked Mr. Thorbjorn Jagland to intervene on this issue of great importance to the Jewish and Muslim communities:

"I was sorry to hear of the recent resolution stated by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on the issue of the ritual of male circumcision practiced by Jewish and Muslim communities.
The ritual of male circumcision has been practiced by Jewish communities for thousands of years and is a fundamental element of our tradition and obligation as Jews. The Jewish communities across Europe would be greatly afflicted to see their cultural and religious freedom impeded upon by the Council of Europe, an institution devoted to the protection of these very rights. I therefore urge the members of this distinguished assembly to reconsider this resolution.
Dear Thorbjorn, you have dedicated a large part of your career to defending the civil liberties of citizens across the world, among other things by implementing fair and equal legislation in Norway and in the European Union institutions. I know how much you value the principles of freedom of religion and trust that you will exert your considerable influence in the Council of Europe for the sake of these fundamental rights."


Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Mr. Thorbjorn Jagland
responded in a letter to President Peres on October 8:

Thank you for your letter of 6 October concerning the recent Resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly on children's right to physical integrity.

I understand the reaction of many people, specifically from the Jewish and Muslim communities, to the Resolution.

First of all, I should like to underline that the Parliamentary Assembly is a consultative body which does not represent the position of the Council of Europe as a whole.

While our organisation is of course fully-committed to children's rights to physical integrity, nothing in the body of our legally binding standards would lead us to put on equal footing the issue of female genital mutilation and the circumcision of young boys for religious reasons.

In fact, female genital mutilation is specifically banned as a form of gender-based violence under the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. There are no similar legal provisions regarding the practice of circumcision of young boys for religious reasons.

For my part, I can assure you of the Council of Europe's continued and unequivocal commitment to tolerance and freedom of religion, which is not only a moral imperative, but a right protected by the European Convention on Human Rights.

Yours sincerely,
Thorbjorn Jagland
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