David Balashinsky is an intactivist from Binghamton, New York, USA, who writes very dedicated blog articles against male circumcision on minors and offers information about protection of genital integrity on Facebook.
In 2020, he spoke in a video message to WWDOGA:
|“||Grüß dich, and greetings from Binghamton, New York.
I'd like to begin by clarifying what we're for and what we're against, since the name "Jews Against Circumcision" is actually a misnomer. It would be more accurate to call ourselves "Jews Against Forced Circumcision." While it's fair to say that we don't approve of any medically-unnecessary genital surgery, we recognize that the same principle that gives people the right not to have their genitals cut or surgically altered without their consent also gives them the right to choose elective genital surgery for any reason they might have, provided they're adults and capable of exercising informed consent.
There could be any number of reasons why people might willingly undergo cosmetic genital surgery. One of them is undoubtedly nothing more than internalized self-hatred, because the natural anatomy of human genitalia — whether female, male or intersex — is so often stigmatized. In the case of women, at least in the United States, this phenomenon, known as labiaplasty, actually seems to be increasing. Another reason closely related to this is the pressure to conform to cultural norms. Again, in the United States, several of the rationalizations for male genital cutting that are most frequently given fall into this category. "So he won't be made fun of in the locker room," we are often told. A man who has escaped forced circumcision at birth could still succumb to pressure like this in adulthood. It's even possible that, after serious and mature reflection, an adult might want to undergo circumcision as an expression of his deeply-felt religious convictions. What matters in all of these cases, though, is that in a society that respects fundamental, universal human rights, the decision to have part a person's genitals removed is a decision that belongs to that individual himself and no one else. It's his body - his choice.
What matters equally is that performing any medical treatment when there is nothing to treat is considered malpractice and unethical. And when the "treatment" is a surgery that permanently removes a functional part of a person's body, the harm is immeasurably greater because it is irreversible. Amputating a perfectly healthy body part is a harm in and of itself. It is not a "cure" but an assault. And when infants and children are deprived of their right to refuse the permanent removal of a part of their genitals, that is when genital cutting, by any name you want to call it, is a human-rights violation.
So it is not genital surgery that Jews Against Circumcision is against but forced genital surgery. It is not circumcision that we're against but forced circumcision. We're against it because, as Jews, we believe that every human being has a right to grow up with his genitals whole, intact, un-scarred and unharmed. What we're against is the genital cutting that is imposed on those unable to exercise informed consent and unable to defend themselves from it: infants and children. We oppose any and all medically-unnecessary genital surgery for all children, whether female, intersex or male. We believe that the right of bodily self-ownership — which necessarily includes the right of genital autonomy — is a universal and fundamental human right that transcends every conceivable group identification. The right not to have part of one's genitals cut off without consent is a right that belongs to every infant and every child, regardless of sex, race, ethnicity and nationality, and no matter what religion that child is born into: whether Judaism, Christianity, Islam or any other religion. As Jews, we believe that the right of bodily self-ownership is the most basic and important human right there is.
What's more, we're not just supporters of the right of genital autonomy but believe that we have a moral obligation to defend that right on behalf of those who can't defend it themselves. As we see it, the moral obligation to actively oppose genital cutting is intrinsic to our self-concept of who we are as Jews. This obligation comes from the principle of tikkun olam, which is typically translated as "repairing the world." Although tikkun olam is originally a religious concept, it is also deeply ingrained in secular Jewish thought, philosophy, ethics and culture. It is a moral imperative that impels followers of Judaism and secular Jews, alike, to strive to leave the world better than we found it. That is why the Brit Milah is increasingly being replaced by the Brit Shalom among religious Jews. It is why so many secular Jews are actively working to end all forced genital cutting. Jews Against Circumcision is against all forced genital cutting not in spite of our being Jewish but because we are Jewish.
As many of you know, the Worldwide Day of Genital Autonomy commemorates the 2012 Cologne court ruling that recognized that forced circumcision constitutes a grievous bodily harm to the child who is subjected to it. The notion that genital autonomy is a universal right is reflected in the fact that this commemoration is observed all over the world by those who value human rights and human dignity above all else. It reflects the powerful idea that every child — no matter where that child is born, no matter who that child's parents are, no matter who or what that child's parents worship or pray to, no matter what tribe, ethno-linguistic group, clan, ethnicity, race, people, religion or nationality that child is born into — that child is first and foremost a human being: a member of the human race. The fundamental rights that we recognize as human rights aren't adjuncts to being human but intrinsic to being human. They aren't severable and they aren't conditional. They don't belong to some but not to others. They don't belong to infants and children of one sex but not to infants and children of another or indeterminate sex. They belong to every infant, every child, every human being the world over.
Unfortunately, as history all too often demonstrates, the existence of a right is no guarantee that that right will be respected. At this moment, hundreds of millions of girls and women and a billion boys and men around the world are living with the scars and the damage of forced genital cutting. Who knows how many intersex individuals around the world are living with the trauma of having had binary sexual-assignment-surgery imposed on them without any need for it and without their wanting it. That is why the Worldwide Day of Genital Autonomy exists. Not to encourage parents, religious leaders, medical professionals and legislatures to grant the right of genital autonomy to every child — for how can one grant to children a right they're born with? Rather, it's to demand respect for the right of genital autonomy that, by virtue of being human, every child already has.
Here, again, in the worldwide campaign for genital autonomy, we see the same impulse as that of tikkun olam - "repairing the world." This impulse, of course, isn't unique to Jews. It motivates people of all cultures and religions and, of course, free-thinkers who recognize that freedom, dignity and self-determination are universal values and who feel themselves called to fight for universal human rights. The right of bodily self-ownership and genital autonomy lies at the very heart of the ongoing struggle for basic human rights the world over.
The worldwide effort to secure the right of genital autonomy for every male, female and intersex individual, no matter how old or how young, is what the Worldwide Day of Genital Autonomy is all about. That is why Jews Against Circumcision is proud to join our brothers, sisters and non-binary siblings of all faiths, all ethnicities and all nationalities in participating in this international event. And that is why we encourage you, on this day — and every day — to defend that most basic and essential human right: the right of genital autonomy.Thank you.
– David Balashinsky (WWDOGA 2020)
- Balashinsky, David (20 September 2015).
On The Decision by the New York City Board of Health to Repeal the Metzitzah B'Peh Consent-Form Regulation, On Same-Sex Marriage, and On the Question of Anti-Semitism. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
- Balashinsky, David (14 December 2015).
Intactivism and Feminism. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
- Balashinsky, David (29 August 2016).
Meatless Mondays, Oprah Winfrey, and the Humane Society of the United States. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
- Balashinsky, David (8 June 2017).
Response to Ej Dickson: A Plea for Reason from a Jewish Man to a Jewish Woman. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
- Balashinsky, David (14 January 2018).
Response to Liza Wyles. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
- Balashinsky, David (22 May 2018).
Pro-Parental Choice Versus Pro-Circumcision: A Distinction Without a Difference. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
- Balashinsky, David (11 November 2018).
In Support of Iceland's Proposed Involuntary-Circumcision Ban. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
- Balashinsky, David (3 June 2019).
Bloodstained Men, Guerilla Theatre, Pathologized Bodies, Feminism, Gender, Rape Culture and Hack Journalism. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
- Facebook profile. Retrieved 21 October 2019.