NYC's Democratic mayoral candidates each explain their position on metzitzah b'peh (MBP), the direct mouth-to-bleeding-penis sucking done by haredi (and some Modern Orthodox) mohels after cutting off the baby's foreskin. If you care about public health, the lives of babies – or simply care about the truth – you should be appalled by what you hear.
NYC's Democratic mayoral candidates weighed in on metzitzah b'peh (MBP), the direct mouth-to-bleeding-penis sucking done by haredi (and some Modern Orthodox) mohels after cutting off the baby's foreskin, at last night's Jewish Press candidate's forum.
You should be appalled by what you hear.
Thousands of Jewish baby boys were killed or maimed by MBP before the advent of antibiotics.
Since that advent, fewer babies have been maimed or killed by MBP – but fewer does not mean zero.
Babies have died in NYC from MBP-transmitted herpes. Others were maimed by it.
Quite frankly, MBP should be banned outright, no matter what haredi rabbis say.
But the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene didn't do that.
Instead, it spent more than a decade negotiating with haredi leaders who made a series of promises about self-regulation and then did not keep those promises.
At the same time, haredi leaders demonized as "antisemites" or "self-hating Jews" anyone who tried to inform the often insular and ignorant haredi (primarily hasidic) community of MBP's real danger.
So to hear a series of mayoral candidates address the city's requirement that an informed consent be signed by parents before MBP can be done on their children without mentioning the despicable decade-long behavior of haredi leaders is appalling.
So, too, are the candidates' ignorance of the history of MBP-caused deaths and maiming.
Of the candidates, only one – Christine Quinn – had the guts to say she would keep the informed consent requirement. All the others either hemmed and hawed their way through their answers without being clear on this or advocated abolishing it.
In fact, one candidate wanted to wipe out the informed consent requirement because it is an infringement by government on religion – apparently ignorant of the fact that the US Supreme Court has already ruled that issues like public health and protecting children trump an individual's right to freedom of religion.
Anthony Weiner, who should know better, tried to play the same game.
When pressed by Politicker after the event, Weiner cited a quote of his from a 2005 Forward piece.
…[I]n contrast to his many of opponents, Mr. Weiner refused to directly address the issue–Mr. Bloomberg’s new regulations, which are deeply unpopular in some Orthodox Jewish communities who believe Mr. Bloomberg created a chilling effect on their religious practice. Instead, he pointed to a quote from a Jewish Daily Forward story from 2005, when he last ran for mayor.
“It is not the place of the department of health to be deciding on a religious practice. I am troubled, based on the facts of this case, about whether or not the city has overreached here,” Mr. Weiner told the Forward in 2005.…
Again, the US Supreme Court has already ruled that issues like public health and protecting children trump an individual's right to freedom of religion.
A truly appalling performance by all the candidates (with the possible exception of Quinn).
[Hat Tip: Burich.]