Saturday, September 26, 2009

Operation Abraham Coming to USA

Three cheers for Dr. Inon Schenker! A couple weeks ago, Ha'aretz News, an Israeli paper, published a story about Dr. Schenker and something called Operation Abraham. The good doctor was at the recent CDC meeting in Atlanta and proposed bringing his Operation Abraham to America. As described in the newspaper, "Operation Abraham [is] a group of Israeli doctors who gained expertise in circumcision by performing the procedure thousands of times, quickly and safely, on Russian-Jewish men who were raised outside Jewish tradition and immigrated to Israel in the 1990s. "

Knowing that America has a growing foreskin problem, not only because too many boys are left uncircumcised, but also because our fast growing immigrant population is largely foreskin afflicted, Dr. Schenker suggests: "Why not bring mass adult male circumcision to the Hispanic and African-American communities of America?" Indeed, to all Americans, I would add, because we have many whites and asians here who still are at risk to themselves and their partners because of their uncircumcised status.

Operation Abraham is not something new and novel. The altruistic doctor and his team have already perfected it in African countries. Here's what Ha'aretz reported: "The resulting abstract, which Dr. Schenker presented in Atlanta, proposes to help train American doctors in much the same way as was effective in Swaziland: by working side by side and showing them how to circumcise efficiently. The innovation creates what Schenker called an "assembly line" technique, working in a team, using only local anesthesia and perfecting a "clamp" method of foreskin removal that uses forceps. The Israeli doctors boast that they are able to perform 30 or 40 circumcisions a day."

The link between HIV, STDs, HPV, cancer, and all sorts of other pernicious diseases and the foreskin is now conclusive. Operation Abraham is a humanitarian effort to save the lives of millions of uncircumcised Americans who, through no fault of their own, were not circumcised at birth like most Americans.

So far, the U.S. government has not embraced Dr. Schenker's proposal. They should do so immediately. After all, U.S. taxpayers spend millions to circumcise Africans. Why not spend a little of that money on our own people? Readers of my blog know that I think it is hypocritical for us to circumcise the rest of the world and ignore our own. Dr. Schenker is offering a great public service.

The Ha'aretz article notes that some of the anti-circumcision foreskin lovers are trying to portray the Israeli docs as some sort of proselytizers for Judaism. That strikes me as anti-semitic. No, these docs are not mohels. No, they are not looking for Jewish converts. But, yes, they want to help restore America to its clean-cut status of the 1960s & 1970s. After all the money and support America has given Israel over the decades, I can't think of a better way for Israel to return the favor than to let its docs eliminate the foreskin from our continent.

Obviously, the expected recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics that all newborn boys be circumcised will help in the future, but Operation Abraham could be just what the doctor ordered for American males who were not so fortunate at birth. Dr. Schenker, we need you and want you!

23 comments:

  1. The Jews already got to my penis when I was 8 days old, and what was done is not very pretty. I have a large band of irregular scar tissue that joins an irregular suture of inner and outer skin. A short segment of the scar is hypertrophic. When I was a teenager erections would cause the skin to tear and sometimes bleed, making the scars worse. I have always known something was wrong, even when I was little boy, but I didn't find out what I was missing until I was 35, when I first saw a man with a whole penis.

    Almost needless to say, my son has all his penis, which takes some of the sting out of what was done to me.

    Operation Abraham has nothing to do with altruism. It's a psychosexual exercise, and I for one resent it.

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  2. Anonymous, what you feel a mohel did to you in a ritual circumcision has NOTHING to do with what we are discussing -- a medically performed hospital circumcision by qualified doctors. I recognize that some males "resent" their circs and the quality of them. Many happily choose to be recircumcised. But to attack Operation Abraham as some "psychosexual exercise" is absurd. Lots of uncircumcised males who would welcome an efficient, inexpensive way to enjoy the protections of circumcision would disagree with you.

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  3. You don't seem to get it, PD. There's nothing left to "recircumcise." If you had the scar tissue I have, I bet you would also "resent" what you "feel" was done to you.

    Uncircumcised males can already get cut anytime they want with inexpensive disposable one-time clamps. It's not a big deal, and you can decide on the cosmetic result. But those who were cut without their consent can't reverse it.

    It's much different when you consent and something goes wrong. I had a splenectomy when I was 23 to rule out a number of diseases. It turns out that I have an autoimmune disease, and I didn't need to lose my spleen - it was just fine, after being frozen and turned into microscope slides. I have absolutely no anger about it: I knew the risks, was fully informed, and made a decision. I was dying, and it was the best decision I could make.

    I suspect a lot of the anti-circ activity on the internet comes from people like me: tens of thousands of men whose penises were damaged from a sexual operation to which they did not consent. There's nothing wrong with circumcision, as long as it is your decision to cut your own penis. There's nothing wrong with removing your clitoral hood and labia, as long as it is your decision.

    As for psychosexual motivations, your blog is a real gem, a psychiatrist's dream.

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  4. It's hard to see why Operation Abraham should want to target Blacks. Other things being equal, the African-American circumcision rate is 5% higher than the white rate in the same area. This rather makes nonsense of the supposition that "lack" of circumcision has anything to do with a high rate of HIV among Blacks.

    PD says: "The Ha'aretz article notes that some of the anti-circumcision foreskin lovers are trying to portray the Israeli docs as some sort of proselytizers for Judaism. That strikes me as anti-semitic." No, it seems their motivation is the same as PD's - they can't bear the thought of anyone having more in the penis department than they do.

    And regarding the previous exchange, isn't it great how when something goes wrong with a ritual circumcision, people like PD can say "what you feel a mohel did to you in a ritual circumcision has NOTHING to do with what we are discussing -- a medically performed hospital circumcision by qualified doctors." and when something goes wrong with a "medical" circumcision, the mohelim can say "our way is faster and safer, because we've been doing it for 5000 years". ANYTHING but blame circumcision itself.

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  5. Hugh7 wrote:

    It's hard to see why Operation Abraham should want to target Blacks. Other things being equal, the African-American circumcision rate is 5% higher than the white rate in the same area. This rather makes nonsense of the supposition that "lack" of circumcision has anything to do with a high rate of HIV among Blacks.

    I'm afraid you're mistaken, Hugh7. There are two main nationally-representative studies of the prevalence of circumcision among adult US males.

    Laumann et al. reported: "Differences in circumcision levels across racial and ethnic groups are more revealing. In particular, whites are considerably more likely to be circumcised than are blacks or Hispanics (81% vs 65% or 54%). These differences remain significant when other variables are controlled. Net of these factors, the odds of a black being circumcised are roughly half (95% confidence interval[CI], 0.40-0.85) that of whites; the odds for Hispanics are about one third (95% CI, 0.26-0.44) that of whites." Ref: Laumann EO, et al. Circumcision in the United States. JAMA 1997;277(13):1052-7.

    Xu et al. reported: "The overall prevalence of circumcision was 79% and varied by race/ethnicity (88% in non-Hispanic whites, 73% in non-Hispanic blacks, 42% in Mexican Americans, and 50% in others)" Ref: Xu F, et al. Prevalence of circumcision and herpes simplex virus type 2 infection in men in the United States: the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 1999-2004. Sex Transm Dis. 2007 Jul;34(7):479-84

    Also, Hugh, you say: "No, it seems their motivation is the same as PD's - they can't bear the thought of anyone having more in the penis department than they do." I'd be grateful if you'd identify in which post(s) PD stated that this was his motivation. If you can't, I believe you owe him an apology.

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  6. PD's post on Sunday, April 12, 2009 comes pretty close, Jake, to explaining his motivation. In this strange diatribe against men with foreskins, PD shows that it is not just his love of mankind that informs his opinion and feelings about circumcision. I think it's fair to say, based on his post, that he doesn't want anyone to have a foreskin and we can be pretty sure he doesn't sport one himself. Hugh7 may not have been pretty polite, but I don't think he missed the mark by much. At any rate, given the outrageous comments in PD's April post, I see no need for apologies, since he clearly meant to Provoke a reaction.

    It almost looks like a joke, a senior project to see how outrageous a blog can be before anyone calls it for a hoax. PD is dangerous company to keep for a guy who wants to control the Wikipedia article on circumcision, and I think you are using this forum, and ones like it, as a written record of how you don't actually promote circumcision. Strange company, Jake.

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  7. Mor Z, Kent CK, Kohn RP, Klausner JD (2007) Benefit. PLoS ONE 2(9) found the African-American circumcision rate surpassed the white about 1965 and has not dipped below it since:

    "Male circumcision varied significantly by ... race/ethnicity (Black: 62.2%, 95% CI 61.2–63.2, White: 60.0%, 95% CI 59.46– 60.5, Asian Pacific Islander: 48.2%, 46.9–49.5 95% CI, and Hispanic: 42.2%, 95% CI 41.3–43.1), and sexual orientation (gay/ bisexual: 73.0%, 95% CI 72.6–73.4; heterosexual: 66.0%, 65.5–66.5)."

    The last finding is curious. Does circumcision help make men gay?

    The CDC's own fact sheet titled "Male
    Circumcision and Risk for HIV Transmission and Other Health Conditions: Implications for the United States"
    http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/circumcision.htm states "In another survey, the National Inpatient Sample
    (NIS) [...] circumcision was more common among newborns who were
    born to families of higher socioeconomic status, born in the
    Northeast or Midwest, and who were black."

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  8. Hugh7 wrote:

    Mor Z, Kent CK, Kohn RP, Klausner JD (2007) Benefit. PLoS ONE 2(9) found the African-American circumcision rate surpassed the white about 1965 and has not dipped below it since

    I assume this is a reference to Mor's figure 1 (and that "1965" is a typo for "1955"). They did find what you say, but the study was not of a nationally representative population. Instead it was of "males attending the San Francisco municipal STD clinic between 1996 and 2005".

    The last finding is curious. Does circumcision help make men gay?

    Mildly interesting, but not the only hypothesis. It could be that gay men take more care of their penes, and are more likely to seek treatment for conditions requiring circumcision. Or it could be a bias associated with STD clinic populations.

    The CDC's own fact sheet titled "Male
    Circumcision and Risk for HIV Transmission and Other Health Conditions: Implications for the United States"
    http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/circumcision.htm states "In another survey, the National Inpatient Sample
    (NIS) [...] circumcision was more common among newborns who were
    born to families of higher socioeconomic status, born in the
    Northeast or Midwest, and who were black."


    Which may well suggest that, in 18 years time, the ratios in the adult population will be different. But it doesn't tell us much about the present-day situation among adults, does it?

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  9. To reply to Anon:

    PD's post on Sunday, April 12, 2009 comes pretty close, Jake, to explaining his motivation. In this strange diatribe against men with foreskins, PD shows that it is not just his love of mankind that informs his opinion and feelings about circumcision. I think it's fair to say, based on his post, that he doesn't want anyone to have a foreskin and we can be pretty sure he doesn't sport one himself. Hugh7 may not have been pretty polite, but I don't think he missed the mark by much.

    Assuming you mean the following, I can't find anything remotely similar to "can't bear the thought of anyone having more in the penis department than [PD does]" in that.

    http://mandatorycircumcision.blogspot.com/2009/04/mandatory-circumcision-is-there.html

    At any rate, given the outrageous comments in PD's April post, I see no need for apologies, since he clearly meant to Provoke a reaction

    I wouldn't describe PD's comments as outrageous. I do see strong and sincere words outlining PD's support for circumcision and belief that the foreskin poses a risk to the individual and to others. I don't agree with all of those words, but I don't think that they're outrageous, and they are about the subject, rather than personal attacks against individuals. Are they provocative? Sure - but I'm struggling to think of a remark sufficiently provocative as to justify making false claims about someone's motivation. Making false claims about anything is bad enough, but worse when those claims involve a living, breathing person.

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  10. My motivation behind this blog is hardly a deep dark secret. I began this exercise in the blogosphere because I strongly believe that male circumcision is a positive, healthy procedure for all men and their sexual partners. In a perfect world, the foreskin would be banned at birth. But I have repeatedly allowed for an exception in the rare medical case (e.g., hemophilia) or a strong religious or conscientious objection. The higher number of males who are circumcised in any society, the greater the protection for all of us.

    If that is a provocative statement, so be it. I welcome intelligent debate on universal circumcision, a primary purpose of this blog.

    The psychobabbling notion that I want everyone circumcised because I am circumcised and can't bear the thought of someone having something I don't have is so preposterous as to be ludicrous. I may have brown hair or blue eyes or be tall or thin, that does not mean I want everyone to "look" like me. There are lots of good reasons to circumcise, "like father like son" makes sense to many Americans, but MY goal has always been HEALTH-focused. A foreskin-free society will be a healthier society.

    The strange assertion by the last Anon that this is a hoax is rather confusing to me. On what possible basis can you suggest that I don't want to promote circumcision? I've sure wasted a lot of time and words if that were true, and so has Hugh7 and other foreskin lovers in their responses. If you think I'm some secret foreskin lover, you obviously haven't been reading my blog.

    Finally, another important motivation behind this blog has been the lack of pro-circumcision blogs in the blogosphere. The anti-circ fanatics do a much better job of "overwhelming" the internet, IMHO, so I felt it was time for America's "silent majority" to speak out. I want the Jakes of the world to have a place to rebut (as Jake and many others so ably do) the anti-circ crap that gets spewed. I think the fanaticism of the anti-circs has finally awoken the vast majority of us (in America, at least) to protect our right to a clean-cut and healthy society.

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  11. Sure looks like a hoax. Where was Jake with his research when our host said

    "Could male circumcision reduce the chance of getting H1N1, better known as the swine flu? It's not as far-fetched as some anti-circumcision fanatics might wish."

    Simply hilarious.

    I did find, however, that Jake does not actually support mandatory circumcision. He knows just how far he can go. PD is just unhinged. PD, my man, if this is not a joke, you need some professional help, viz

    "Most Americans have never seen a foreskin in person, and that's obviously a good thing."

    "Is there anything quite as worthless -- or dangerous to public health -- as a foreskin?"

    ". . . discarding this ugly piece of skin . . ."

    ". . . disease-attracting piece of tissue . . ."

    " . . . America has a growing foreskin problem . . ."

    ". . . a society where the foreskin can no longer pose a threat . . ."

    ". . . a clean-cut penis was the only penis to have . . ."

    ". . . the problem centers on the hysterical intactivists . . ."

    ". . . medically desirable to have every newborn boy leave the filthy foreskin behind in the hospital . . ."

    ". . . it [circumcision] ought to be required for all . . ."

    ". . . The United States was once a truly clean-cut country . . ."

    ". . . to be uncircumcised is to be un-American . . ."

    ". . . the worst fathers are those circumcised dads who have been so manipulated by the anti-circ foreskin lovers that they mistakenly impose a filthy foreskin on their sons . . ."

    ". . . If you're circumcised like me, . . ."

    ". . . There's no real way to measure pain in an infant anyways . . ."

    ". . . Turns out the Brits have found at least one good use for the otherwise disgusting foreskin -- grind it up and use it in skin treatments."

    ". . . The foreskin is a filthy, diseased cover that collects smegma and harmful germs in close proximity to an otherwise healthy penis."

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  12. A reader comment to an interesting column in US News & World Report:
    http://health.usnews.com/blogs/on-women/2009/08/31/should-circumcision-become-public-health-policy.html

    Circumcision does not reduce pleasure

    If the only thing you ever heard about circumcision was from the comments on this board, you would be left with the distinct impression that circumcision was a bad thing for everybody. That, of course, is far from the truth. The vast majority of circumcised men and boys are perfectly happy with their circumcised penises and rarely, if ever, give their circumcisions a second thought. Those men (and their female partners) are unlikely to post on Internet message boards, so we rarely hear from this silent majority. Others, who were circumcised by their own choosing at a later age, usually report positive results from their circumcisions. I belong in this latter category.

    Having experienced sex both before and following my circumcision 15 years ago at age 29, I can report that while the sensations are quite different, the overall pleasure is about the same. Nevertheless, a small minority of men circumcised in infancy get obsessed with the idea that sex would be so much better if only they had not been cut. Certainly, reading many of the anti-circumcision sites on the Internet, one would be lead further down that unfortunate path. This is simply not true, at least not in my experience.

    Circumcised men do in fact enjoy sexual pleasure, but it’s just not in the same places as uncircumcised men. Much of the pleasurable sexual sensations for circumcised men are felt at the circumcision scar (yes, all circumcised males have a scar around their penis). As one would expect, the head of the penis loses some of its sensitivity from the constant exposure to clothing and it is dried out from exposure to the air. This is, after all, the simple goal of circumcision: to constantly and permanently expose the head of the penis. This is what makes cleanliness and overall hygiene easier to achieve in the circumcised male. But it’s not like the circumcised glans has calluses on it – it can still feel plenty of very nice sensations.

    Parents who choose to circumcise their sons should not be made to feel bad or guilty, and think they’ve “mutilated” their boys. Rather, they should be proud of their courageous decision – it’s never easy to know your baby is in pain, but these brave folks recognize that some things in life are painful. Similarly, men who may be questioning their own infant circumcision should rest assured that they’re not “missing out” – fact is, they continue to experience all the good feelings they rightfully deserve from their penises, while getting the health and hygiene benefits from their circumcisions.

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  13. Whoops Brad, you experience couldn't be right, because it contradicts findings that there's no significant change in sexual sensation. Your glans couldn't lose any sensitivity: there's a study to prove it. Also, this stuff about sensitive scar tissue couldn't be right, because there's a study that says there's no difference in sensation anywhere along the shaft no matter how much skin was cut off. You know, Bonferoni corrections and all that.

    I'm always amazed at these guys who got cut as adults to their own specs, like you and Jake, who then extrapolate to everyone. Let's slice your penis like mine, with some really impressive scar tissue formation, and then run those medical tests to prove it's just the same as being uncut.

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  14. Interesting that Brad & Jake are willing to post names in making the case for circumcision, while (except for Hugh7) most of the anti-circs hide behind Anonymous. Just saying...... Anyways, back to main topic, I think Operation Abraham is long overdue, especially for Latinos here whose parents didn't know about the advantages of circumcision.

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  15. We may have gotten off track a bit in the comments to this posting on Operation Abraham. But I appreciate Brad's comments that parents who do the right thing and circumcise their sons should be proud, not labeled "mutilators" by the anti-circumcision fanatics. I once posted here that the father I respect the most is the uncircumcised dad who chooses circumcision for his sons. Fortunately, we have a lot of them.

    The last Anon raises an interesting point, too. Many Latinos in the USA are foreskin-afflicted because their parents were so new to America and just not familiar with the procedure. Operation Abraham could be a big help to that ethnic group.

    Second, because some states (like California) stopped paying for newborn circumcision under their medicaid program, lots of poor Americans, especially in the Black community, are sadly uncircumcised. Again, Operation Abraham could be a life-saver for this group. Once again, Jake is right on in pointing this out to Hugh7.

    Does anybody know the status of Operation Abraham right now?

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  16. Thanks, Anonymous for the collection of PD-isms. I'm keeping those (filed under "psychopathology") for future reference.

    "Interesting that Brad & Jake are willing to post names in making the case for circumcision, while (except for Hugh7) most of the anti-circs hide behind Anonymous." But so does Provoking Debate himself. How about that?

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  17. To reply to Hugh7:

    "Interesting that Brad & Jake are willing to post names in making the case for circumcision, while (except for Hugh7) most of the anti-circs hide behind Anonymous." But so does Provoking Debate himself. How about that?

    Not so. He doesn't use his given name (at least I assume that no parent would name their child 'Provoking'), but he is not anonymous. Instead, he adopts a "name" that identifies all of his posts, allowing them (for example) to be cross-referenced as Anonymous has chosen to do. If PD actually chose to be entirely anonymous, it would not be possible to distinguish between his posts and those of other anonymous posters.

    Anyway, can I suggest that we return to the subject?

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  18. Re: First post at the top.

    It sounds like the Mohel did a lousy job. I'm sorry, and I'd love to see rules in place to ensure that doesn't happen again.

    We don't discard automobiles because of bad drivers, and we shouldn't discard circumcision because of bad doctors.

    Instead, every circumcision should be carried out by a physician who is conscious at every step during the procedure that there are cosmetic and sexual issues he can cause by not doing his absolute best work.

    Anesthetics should be used for every circumcision, ritual or routine. Period.

    You describe a legitimate case, though rare, of actual damage by circumcision. Curse the doctor who was hung over from that morning's golf game; don't curse circumcision for the fact trained monkeys are sometimes allowed to do it.

    Lawrence Wade
    slant6mopar@yahoo.com

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  19. Kill Operation Abraham

    I love Jews but circumcision is one area that religion holds no place. In my opinion circumcision began as a completely religiously-motivated practice, and needs to come to an end. Sorry but the studies are not conclusive to show one is better than the other. In fact, many of the benefits of being uncircumsized are overlooked (probably because there aren't religious nuts set out to prove how great it is). The most obvious and important benefit is that the foreskin is a natural protective sheath of the penis, which protects it from damage, shaffing, reduction in sensitivity, etc. You wouldn't cut off your eyelids, why would you cut off your foreskin? It takes a minimal amount of education to show someone how to clean effectively. At that point the uncircumsized penis is just as good if not better than circumsized, because it can be cleaned just as easily, and offers added protection and sensitivity. Not to mention it is the natural way, as mother nature intended.

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  20. it may be anti-semetic to say so but jews have openly stated that the more males they can get circumcised the better it will be for judism and in fact they run a propaganda unit purely to acheive this aim .

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  21. Only education, hygiene and condoms will protect one from disease, there is NOTHING humanitarian about offering circumcision instead, in fact I would hold these people accountable for getting infected after they received the procedure.

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  22. Whenever any form of the adjective "happy" is juxtaposed with the non-word "recircumcised" in a sentence, there is a loud and clear signal that one is encountering a fetishist with an abnormal interest in promoting circumcision for any reason whatsoever, merely because that pervert enjoys knowing someone, anyone, is suffering at any given moment from a knife being applied to his foreskin. If PD believes Jewish circumcision cannot be conflated with USA type pseudo-circumcision, then why on Earth is he here pushing for Operation Abraham to take its battalion of mohelim to the US to do . . . well, whatever type of circumcision it might turn out to be. A Judeo-Medical one? Yes. It sounds like something US religious fundamentalists would invent, if they haven't already.

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    Replies
    1. "USA type pseudo-circumcision" should read "USA type pseudo-medical circumcision" It is such because there is almost never a valid "medical" reason for any ever done in USA.

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