The intense, parochial fight over Mayor Bloomberg’s careful attempt to intervene in an Orthodox Jewish circumcision practice is one of the most complicated of the campaign, and most of the Democrats have stayed well away from it.
The central point — and it’s kind of a classic “Do you make the Christian Scientist kid take antibiotics?” case — is that a mohel may have given a fatal case of herpes to a baby, and that Bloomberg is cautiously asserting that this is a case where the government has a right to get involved, over intense community objection.
Christopher Hitchens has a characteristically straightforward piece in Slate, blasting Bloomberg for his caution. It reads in its mildest section:
“I could wish that Bloomberg were always so careful about keeping out of other peoples’ business: He has made it legally impossible to have a cigarette and a cocktail at the same time, anywhere in the city. But I’ll trade him his stupid prohibitionist ban if he states clearly that it is the government’s business to protect children from religious fanatics.”
Meanwhile, Anthony Weiner, in the Forward, seems to be leaning toward giving the community more discretion with the health of its children:
“It is not the place of the department of health to be deciding on a religious practice.” Weiner tells the Forward. “I am troubled, based on the facts of this case, about whether or not the city has overreached here.”
NOTE: This was not, however, enough to get Weiner the endorsement of the conservative, Brooklyn-based Jewish Press, which just went for Giff.