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March 10, 2012

Christopher Hitchens On Metzitzah B'Peh

Christopher Hitchens closeupI can never read the name "Michael Bloomberg" without an automatic free-association that flashes up in my mind. "Little putz," is what my internal prompter always cues to me.

Christopher Hitchens closeup
Christopher Hitchens

Cut It Off
Another disgusting religious practice.
Christopher Hitchens • Slate (8-29-2005)

I can never read the name "Michael Bloomberg" without an automatic free-association that flashes up in my mind. "Little putz," is what my internal prompter always cues to me. Obviously this and other intuitions must be prompted by whatever grand intelligence originally designed me, because here's what I read on page B5 of the New York Times on Friday, Aug. 26:

"A circumcision ritual practiced by some Orthodox Jews has alarmed city health officials, who say it may have led to three cases of herpes—one of them fatal—in infants. … The practice is known as oral suction, or in Hebrew, metzitzah b'peh: after removing the foreskin of the penis, the practitioner, or mohel, sucks the blood from the wound to clean it."

The continuing scandal of this practice, which most Jews abandoned many years ago, is newly illustrated by the death of one little boy from type-1 herpes, and the infection of two others, in Staten Island and Brooklyn, after they had been subjected to this ritual by the same mohel. Let's be clear what's involved here. The Times refers to an article published last year in the journal Pediatrics that argued that metzitzah b'peh carries a serious health risk and is, for that reason alone, a violation of Jewish law. ("We suspect … that this entity is underreportedfor cultural reasons and that the studies described here areonly the "tip of the iceberg" of the true incidence of the disease," the authors note). None of this should be hard to comprehend: If it risks the life or health of an infant, then no religious allegiance is or should be required for its condemnation. Q.E.D., as you might say.

What's Bloomberg got to do with this, you may be impatient to know by now. Well, the mayor of the great city where these children were deliberately exposed to infection and death has had a meeting with the Orthodox authorities who like to see this happening to small putzes, and he has expressed himself thus, on his own radio show, again as per the Times:

"We're going to do a study, and make sure that everyone is safe and at the same time, it is not the government's business to tell people how to practice their religion."

Study? What study? Can't the fool get through an article by a Jewish authority in Pediatrics? For the Times reporter to add that Mayor Bloomberg's comment appeared to be designed not to "upset a group that can be a formidable voting bloc" was, in the circumstances, worse than superfluous.

Where to start with this? I could wish that Bloomberg were always so careful about keeping out of other peoples' business: He has made it legally impossible to have a cigarette and a cocktail at the same time, anywhere in the city. But I'll trade him his stupid prohibitionist ban if he states clearly that it is the government's business to protect children from religious fanatics. Female genital mutilation, for example, is quite rightly banned under federal law, and no religious exemption is, or ever should be, permitted. The Mormons were obliged to give up polygamy and forcible marriage before they, or the state of Utah, could be part of the United States. A Christian Scientist who denies urgent medical treatment to his or her children may well be hauled up for reckless endangerment, as may those whose churches teach redemption through violent corporal punishment. The First Amendment does indeed forbid any infringement of religious freedom, but it is not, as was once said, part of a suicide pact, let alone a child-abuse one.

Let's by all means hear from Rabbi David Niederman of the United Jewish Organization in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, who emerged from his meeting with Bloomberg to inform us that: "The Orthodox Jewish community will continue the practice that has been practiced for over 5,000 years. We do not change. And we will not change." You can preach it, rabbi, but you have no more right to practice it than a Muslim imam who preaches the duty of holy war has the right to put his teachings into effect. And Rabbi Yitzchok Fischer, the 57-year-old man who ministered to the three boys in question, is currently under a court order that forbids him from doing it again—pending an investigation by the health department. What "investigation?" If another man of that age were found to be slicing the foreskins of little boys and then sucking their penises and their blood, he would be in jail—one hopes—so fast that his feet wouldn't touch the ground. If he then told the court that God ordered him to do it, he would be offering precisely the defense that thousands of psychos have already made so familiar. Preach it rabbi. Preach it to the judge.

A few years ago I traveled to Calcutta with the brilliant photographer Sebastião Salgado, who has made the eradication of polio his signature cause. In 2001, there was a real chance that this childhood-wrecking and frequently lethal malady could go the way of smallpox. Only a few outposts, usually in very bad war zones like Afghanistan, had not been reported as "clear." (The two sides in the civil war in El Salvador observed a truce so that the vaccine could be safely distributed.) But some mullahs in Bengal spread the rumor that the vaccine led to impotence and diarrhea (a bad combo) and urged mothers to keep their children away from the nurses and physicians. Most Bengalis are too smart to listen to ravings like these, which exactly resemble the view of Dr. Timothy Dwight, one of America's founding divines, that vaccination against smallpox was an interference with the divine design. However, in northern Nigeria, where imams now hold state power in many provinces, the polio vaccine has been denounced as a plot "by the US and the UN [!]" to "sterilize Muslims." In consequence of this fatwa, the disease has returned to Nigeria this year and also spread back to several African countries that thought they had bidden farewell to it. Decades of patient and skillful work have been ruined, along with the lives of uncounted children.

Jewish babies exposed to herpes in New York, thousands of American children injured for life after the rape and torture they suffered at the hands of a compliant Catholic priesthood, prelates and mullahs outbidding each other in denial of AIDS … it's not just your mental health that is challenged by faith. Anyone who says that this evil deserves legal protection is exactly as guilty as the filthy old men who delight in inflicting it. What a pity that there is no hell.


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Wonder if the hitch still agrees with his last sentence.

No matter your religious beliefs, he doesn't anymore.
But seriously, it's 'cause he's dead, not because there is a hell. Sorry, Mr. Haredi.

Well, since he doesn't have a faith in God problem, his faith in humanity seems to to be failing as well. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, how many people did they kill a 120 million? 150 million? Sorry but I'd rather believe in fairy tales then in humans.

this is an absurd argument. he is comparing mohelim to child molestors. that is not fair. if he had focused solely on the metzizta b'peh issue it would be a different story... the comparison to the fatwas against immunization and refusal to use the metzitza tube is a fair one.

i really don't like it when people conflate issues

UHL, you're really pathetic, aren't you?

You can't refute a single word of what Hitchens says. You don't have a single fact or bit of reasoning in your defense. All you can do is scream "But I'm special, and I hope my Invisible Friend is hurting him for telling people I'm not special."

That's all you've got, and it's fucking pitiful.

Nice post Shmarya. Keep putting the pressure on these guys who are killing babies. It's time to stop this barbaric custom.

Toward the end of perek daled in parashat Shmot we learn that Moshe's wife, Tzipora, took a stone and circumcised their older son, Gershon. I always wondered: did she do metzitzah? I'll have to check out all the m'forshim.

"If another man of that age were found to be slicing the foreskins of little boys and then sucking their penises and their blood, he would be in jail—one hopes—so fast that his feet wouldn't touch the ground. If he then told the court that God ordered him to do it, he would be offering precisely the defense that thousands of psychos have already made so familiar. Preach it rabbi. Preach it to the judge."

Amen, Hitch

Once again your articles are full of nonsense. Metzitza never killed anyone. There are many Mohalim who did THOUSANDS of Brisos, in the US & Israel. Never did any baby that they did get sick because of it. Mohalim are known to be so strict for cleanliness and making sure that there will be no risks for the baby. Years ago people tried to stop metzitza because of AIDS, but only to find out that saliva kills the AIDS germs. Mohalim are instructed for over a 100 years, to be carefull not to to metzitza bapeh on infants from parents that are suspected to carry diseases, or from a mohel who has even an infection in his mouth, all the more so if he has a disease. For example try to find out one baby out of the Thousands,that Rabbi Pesach Krohn did mila on, that died or got sick because of metzitza. Try to find it. The few cases that did happen are because of some individual(s) didn't care that they carried diseases. That is not the case by Charedi Mohalim. You can ask anyone of them.
Many senior Mohalim have much more expertise in the field than any doctor could or would ever have.
Remember believing and spreading lies is easy.

Finding out the truth takes work, and is not always going to be easy.

Exposing Lies - you are a dangerous individual.

AIDS is not a germ, it is the term for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome i.e. when a person's immunity is so compromised that they can not fight off various infections, it is medically defined by possessing a CD4+ lymphocyte count under 200 cells/μl.

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) leads to AIDS. Simplistically, this progression and its timing depends on many factors, including if the person does not receive treatment or if they are susceptible.

The Centre of Disease Control (CDC) has documented cases of oral transmission of HIV. Pure saliva usually has a negligible viral load.

Saliva does not kill "AIDS germs" or HIV.

If a person with HIV has mouth ulcers, cuts or gum disease then the viral load in saliva is significant.

Transmission of HIV is massively increased where the virus is able to enter a person through disruption to the normal cellular structure of the body. Therefore, a wound such as that created by circumcision is perfect for HIV transmission.

HIV can survive outside the body at room temperature for weeks if in a wet environment, examples include syringes.

Finding out the truth is easy.
Metzitza B'Peh has killed many babies and probably harmed many more.

Wonder if the hitch still agrees with his last sentence.

Posted by: ultra haredi lite | March 10, 2012 at 11:14 PM

What an inexpressible piece of drek you are. You serve no purpose in this world. Please just die.

Please just die.

Posted by: Jeff | March 11, 2012 at 06:08 AM

You are just as bad as he is, if not worse.

Yeah? I'm not pleased at that thought of someone in hell.


I can't help but wonder- when Avraham and all his followers were circumcised- did they perform metzitzah on each other? When the sons of Jacob demanded that all the men of Shechem be circumcised, did they do metzitzah on the whole city? If so, then what does this tell us about the Avos?

Exposing Lies-Talking about lies lets face it most of our if not bible stories are made up even purim is a made up story i read years ago about those days were very hard and the people needed to cheer themsels up so they made up the whole megilath ester lets face something that is too good to be true is you know the rest this metz p;p is a tottal fabrication of regular peoples imagination for whatever reason and theese absolute fools the hassidim take it as gods words ,the hassidim are acurse on normal jews who are not extreeme,they are making a mockery of the religion on every step of the way.

More people die from going to the dentist every year, but do the goyim want to ban going to the dentist? No, because it is necessary. Similarly this is necessary for Yidden whos custom it is to do this. Consult your Rav, not the apikoras or the goy.

It is neccessary to commit you into a lunatic asylem the sooner the better this is really really neccessary you mooron.

If anybody is pleased at someone in hell, all I must say is that I can refer you to the Westboro Baptist Church. You'd fit in well there. I hope this MBP stuff is finally put to rest. I had to explain this to my college friends and keep disassociating them with myself. As a Jew, it pains me to know that MBP is considered the more "machmir/religous" practice, when in fact it should be forbidden according to Jewish law, not to mention that it kills young children.

W4M is entertaining as usual, but Exposing Lies is so blatantly ignorant about basic science and hygiene, I can't tell if he is also a parody.

I refuse to get angry at such an obvious troll, but in the event that Exposing Lies is posting his/her true beliefs, please take a biology class at the local junior college.

Why you non-believers don't have an issue with the sex industry where many many more people are killed by having unprotected sex yearly, is beyond me. Just because you're filling your filthy fantasies with it and a bag destroys your imagination (since you have such low quantity of matter in your brains, which won't support enough to believe) don't give you the right to support killing people of HIV

Apear-Hey you retard go commit youreself into a lunatic asylem you dont even know what youre talking about di farikte beheime.

Yeah? I'm not pleased at that thought of someone in hell.


Posted by: Jeff | March 11, 2012 at 08:03 AM

Don't wory, you won't be alone.

Apear, I know reading anything but toireh and approved seforim is assur, but you really should follow this link and read up on the Tu Quoque Fallacy. If you're afraid it might pull you away from toireh for a few seconds here it is in a shorter form:

"Yeah, well other people did bad things, too, so what I did isn't bad."

Don't wory, you won't be alone.

Posted by: AskFirst | March 11, 2012 at 04:29 PM

I'm sure it will give you a great deal of pleasure. It's what your kind is in the religion game for in the first place.

I never implied that the hitch is IN hell, just that perhaps now he has a greater knowledge that there may in fact be A hell.

Calm down and stopping wishing death on others.

Jeff. Your just a tard.
Do the world a favour and stand in the middle of a busy intersection

Jeff, you've hit a nerve with the trolls.
Find out what it was and please do it again!

Where do YOU think G-d would send people that suck infant penis? Really/

was it rav ezekiel abramsky (or perhaps the rogatochover, i don't remeber) or some other litvish contemporary rav, who readily admitted that this was a disgusting ritual
saying something to the effect of אין לך דבר יותר משוקץ מזה
yet inexplicably, ended up justifying the procedure.

Posted by: danny | March 11, 2012 at 01:29 PM

yes they do I have spoken to many of them

to them it is very simple really

MO is a mitzvah (of course nay one with a brain knows it is not) therefore it can do no harm.

any evidence to the contrary is simple false, wrong. Or better yet, all the evidence it just a test by god to test your emunhua

no amount of evidence will convince them otherwise

to Exposing Lies

there has been recorded death because of MP recently, in the early 1900's in NY and many deaths in Europe that let many sane robonum to ban MP.

of course you simply do not believe that to you it is all lies

Where do YOU think G-d would send people that suck infant penis? Really/

Posted by: Dovit | March 12, 2012 at 06:15 AM

I don't condone the concept of eternal hell even for them, but of course, that isn't what the trolls above were saying. They were saying (or at least implying strongly) that one goes there for being an atheist, which is synonymous with using the brains their Invisible Friend supposedly gave us.

Oh, one of them seems to think I'll go there for being an asshole, which is distinctly possible.

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