Agudath Israel's Executive VP Rabbi David Zwiebel explains why Agudath Israel of America's previous support for metzitzah b'peh is not responsible for a baby's recent death from the oral-to-genital suction health professionals wanted to ban. Meanwhile, NYC's Mayor Michael Bloomberg explains why MBP has to go.
Zwiebel in Ha'aretz:
According to David Zwiebel, head of Agudath Israel of America, a large majority of babies born to the Haredi and Hassidic communities of New York are circumcised with oral suction. In a conversation with Haaretz, Zwiebel said the religious community of New York, like the German emigrants in Washington Heights and those described as Modern Orthodox, conduct the suction with a straw or using a plaster.
"All cases of infant deaths are tragic. But the fact is that in the past six years, not a single case is known of one who died as a result of the suction," said Zwiebel, who noted that it is important to refrain from automatically blaming the mohel. "The baby can contract a virus from the nurse treating him or any other human cause."
Zwiebel noted that in 2006 the New York State Department of Health released a guide for mohels with instructions for preventing the spread of herpes. "There is no information yet as to whether the mohel in the case of the baby who died (in September) operated according to the guide or not. It is too early to express an opinion on the matter," he told Haaretz, adding that he sees it as important that an investigation take place in order for other mohels to know about and learn from what happened.
Bloomberg in The Jewish Week:
Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke about the recent infant death at an event on Tuesday in the Bronx, noting that the medical evidence indicated it resulted from metzitzah b’peh.
“Because of the specific way that the herpes presented itself on his body,” the mayor explained, “the physicians at the Medical Examiner’s Office have determined that the herpes was not transmitted by a parent. The evidence demonstrates that it came from oral suction during circumcision. The doctors who found this are objective and independent, and scientists don’t answer anyone other than the truth, including the mayor.”
“Nobody in public life fights harder for the separation of church and state than I do,” the mayor continued, “but I just wanted to remind everybody religious liberty does not simply extend to injuring others or putting children at risk.”
The truth here is that Zwiebel and the cabal of gedolim he represents worked very hard to block a MBP ban in 2005-2006, joining with Satmar to use every bit of pressure they could find in the process.
Zwiebel, the gedolim and Satmar are as responsible for the death of the baby who recently died from MBP as the mohel is, and all of them should be charged with involuntary manslaughter or reckless endangerment leading to death – second degree murder.