Israeli President Shimon Peres
Israeli President Shimon Peres, pictured in July 2012, stressed that circumcision is "at the core of Jewish identity," as he weighed in on a controversy in Germany in a letter sent to his German counterpart Joachim Gauck on Thursday. © Menahem Kahana - AFP/File
Israeli President Shimon Peres
AFP
Last updated: August 23, 2012

Peres: Circumcision at core of Jewish identity

Israeli President Shimon Peres stressed that circumcision is "at the core of Jewish identity," as he weighed in on a controversy in Germany in a letter sent to his German counterpart Joachim Gauck on Thursday.

Circumcision is "a Jewish ritual that has been at the core of Jewish identity for thousands of years and defines the Jewish people, from the time of the first commandment given by God to Abraham," he wrote.

"I am therefore confident, Mr President, that Germany, in keeping with its values, will remain committed to conduct their Jewish religious traditions in freedom," Peres said in the letter quoted by his office.

Germany's ethics committee on Thursday supported the practice of religious circumcision but with conditions, a German official said, after a court ruled the practice was tantamount to grievous bodily harm.

The ruling stirred an uproar from religious and political leaders in Israel as well as Muslim countries.

Christiane Woopen, chairwoman of the 26-member committee which advises the government, said the ethics panel had supported a compromise allowing for the rite to be carried out in Germany under certain provisos.

"There must be a green light for circumcision but under the conditions of a full explanation to the parents, the agreement of both parents, the treatment of pain and the expert carrying out the circumcision," she told AFP.

In a ruling published in June, a German court said removal of the foreskin for religious reasons amounted to grievous bodily harm and was therefore illegal. But in July, German MPs adopted a motion urging Berlin to protect religious circumcision.

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