Press Release

ADL Urges Iceland Drop Bill Banning Male Circumcision

New York, NY, March 23, 2018 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today strongly urged the parliament of Iceland to reject a bill that would ban male circumcision.

In a letter addressed to the parliamentary committee discussing the proposal, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said, “The proposal to ban male circumcision is contrary to basic principles of religious freedom and deeply offensive to Jews and Muslims. The commandment of brit milah, circumcision on the eighth day, is a fundamental religious rite in Judaism and universally practiced by all families who identify as Jewish across the broad spectrum of practice. Such a ban would mean that no Jewish family could be raised in Iceland, and it is inconceivable that a Jewish community could remain in any country that prohibited brit milah.”

Finland’s Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that ritual male circumcision is protected under the European Convention on Human Rights by the right to personal autonomy, as part of the right to privacy, (Article 8), the right to family life (Article 8), and the freedom of religion and conscience (Article 9), when “appropriately performed.”

Greenblatt, in his letter, noted that ADL is the leading monitor of far-right extremism in the United States: “Should Iceland ban male circumcision, making it impossible for Jews and Muslims to raise families in your country, we guarantee that Iceland will be celebrated by neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other extremists,” Greenblatt said. “Even though anti-Semitism was surely not the impetus for the proposal, the result of its adoption will be the glorification of Iceland by the most despicable bigots. They will celebrate the ban as the first legislation in Europe since World War II towards making a country Judenrein or free of Jews.”