A Bloomberg-era consent form required for a controversial circumcision ritual used in some ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities is on its way out as New York City officials look to other means of educating parents about the health risks....Yes -- the mohel removes the foreskin and then sucks blood from the wound. If he has oral herpes, he can transmit it to the infant, infecting the child for life. Despite this risk, the community has vigorously defended the practice, and has resisted former mayor Mike Bloomberg's written consent form:
The form calls for parents to acknowledge knowing the risk of contracting herpes in the ritual known as metzitzah b'peh, a bris ceremony in which a religious officiant -- known as a mohel -- orally removes blood from the incision.
The consent rule, introduced under Mayor Bloomberg, was assailed by Orthodox leaders as an infringement of their religious rights. Mr. de Blasio pledged to rescind the rule, and his aides later said the consent forms had been difficult to enforce, saying that herpes infections linked to the practice actually rose in 2014.Under de Blasio's plan, the consent form will be replaced by ... a brochure. The brochure will be strongly worded ("'Some babies can get sick with herpes, which can lead to death,' the form reads in bold type. 'There is no way to avoid the risk'") -- but it will be voluntary, as will infection testing among mohels:
Hospitals would be asked, but not required, to distribute English and Yiddish versions of the brochure. And although the city has proposed that circumcisers, known as mohels, be tested for herpes if an infant is infected, those tests would not be mandated by law. Instead, City Hall says that Orthodox leaders have pledged to ensure mohels undergo the test; penalties would be enforced by the Orthodox community, not by city law.And yet prominent leaders of the community still aren't satisfied:
Rabbi David Niederman, an influential Orthodox leader in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, sat outside a meeting of the New York City Board of Health on Wednesday, staring at [the] brochure and frowning....And so discussions continue.
“Serious misstatements,” Rabbi Niederman said, looking pained, as he read the brochure for the first time.
Now I'm asking you to listen. What do you hear?
I'll tell you what you don't hear: You don't hear howls of outrage about this from the right. Imagine the right-wing reaction if metzitzah b'peh were practiced by Muslims rather than Jews. Imagine the reaction if Bill de Blasio were negotiating the regulation of this practice in order to satisfy the objections of Muslim leaders -- leaders who not only rejected a ban on the practice but resisted even a mandatory consent form.
Imagine how many segments Fox News would do on this. Imagine the dark right-wing warnings about the inevitable repeal of the Constitution in favor of sharia law. Imagine the Pam Geller bus ads. Imagine the deep-red states far from Brooklyn that would be passing laws against this, regardless of whether the ritual had ever taken place in those states.
But what do we hear instead? Crickets, because these aren't Muslims, and because most members of the American right, though Christian, regard themselves as ... oh, what's the Jewish equivalent of "more Catholic than the pope"? (See, e.g., Sarah Palin's Star of David necklace and Israeli flag.) You won't face angry demands to adapt or assimilate -- if conservatives like you.