A reader correctly criticized the International Herald Tribune (IHT, the global edition of the NY Times) for the provocative and inaccurate headline, “Germany Making Jews Feel Unwelcome.” The piece was written by Judy Dempsey and is a follow-up on her article, “Germany, Jews and Muslims, and Circumcision,” which was published on the the NY Times Internet site on September 17. A version of that article appeared in the print edition of the IHT on September 18.
The headline for this article is deceiving and misleading. The author initially makes great effort to show how Germany has become a welcoming and hospitable host to Jews from around the world. A local court’s decision regarding circumcision affects not only Jews but Muslims too. Why wasn’t the title of the article “Germany Makes Muslims Feel Unwelcome”? In this time of great turmoil and easy offense being taken by comments made in the press, I would have hoped the author and IHT editors would be more sensitive and less offensive.
Another reader accurately states that the judge was solely determining whether or not circumcision was consistent with that nation’s current laws. It is the role of the German government to enact legislation regarding this issue. As the article states, “[T]he German government is now rushing through a new law that would spell out that male circumcision is legal.”
Maybe the NY Times, and even their non-Jewish writers, could be a bit more sensitive when writing about this touchy issue.
Update: Today the New York Times follows up on the two Dempsey circumcision pieces with “Some Religious Leaders See a Threat as Europe Grows More Secular.” The article which appears today (September 20) in the print edition is about Rabbi and mohel, David Goldberg, and a handful of German citizens who object to circumcision. These are my two favorite quotes:
For the more than 100,000 Jews who live in Germany, the tenor of the circumcision debate has come as a shock, undercutting confidence that they had found a secure place in society after the horrors of the Holocaust. Only a few months ago, that confidence had seemed justified when voters in Frankfurt chose their first Jewish mayor since 1933.
I wonder how much of this undercutting (an editor should have caught this surely unintended pun) is solely in the minds of the Rabbi, Jack Ewing, the writer of the article, and the New York Times editors.
‘In Judaism, the health of the baby is more important than anything,’ Rabbi Goldberg said. The harm, he added, would come if the baby was not circumcised. ‘A man who is not circumcised cannot understand the context of the Bible,’ [emphasis mine, IG] he said. ‘It is very, very important.’
“A man who is not circumcised cannot…….?!!X” First, this is complete nonsense and that is putting it mildly. Second, it is an insult to Christians. Hey, but to the NY Times’ editors maybe it is all in what they believe was written in a good cause.