Israel president asks Germany to back circumcision

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Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger, right, and Berlin Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal brief the media at the Federal Press Conference organization in Berlin, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2012. Israel's chief rabbi is in Germany for talks aimed at smoothing over controversy over the legality of circumcising young boys. German lawmakers have called for the government to draft a law this fall explicitly permitting 'medically correct circumcision'. That call came after a Cologne court concluded in June that circumcision amounts to bodily harm. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's president is urging Germany to protect the custom of ritual circumcision, joining a chorus of Israeli officials and Jewish groups concerned about a German regional court which ruled that the practice amounts to physical abuse.

In a letter Thursday to German President Joachim Gauck, Israeli President Shimon Peres said circumcision is a crucial Jewish custom which has been practiced for thousands of years.

The Israeli president praised Germany for vowing to pass legislation to protect the practice. Germany's Justice Ministry says it will submit a draft law by the autumn.

The debate over circumcision was rekindled after a German doctor accused a rabbi of harming a child.

A Jewish think tank in Israel on Thursday said the circumcision debate could threaten the future of Jewish communities in Europe.