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Israeli rabbi calls Africans 'cannon fodder' for student circumcisers

Numerous rabbis were filmed undercover saying it was acceptable to practice circumcision on poor families in Israel
A Rabbi presents his circumcision tools at the Jewish Community in Hof, southern Germany (AFP)

A veteran Israeli mohel has been filmed arguing that Ethiopian and Sudanese children should be used as "cannon fodder" for young circumcisors to practice their technique on.

Rabbi Eliyahu Asulin, a Chief Rabbinate-affiliated mohel (Jewish circumciser) with 33 years of experience, was filmed by the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation saying that he forged certificates for less experienced students and sent them to deal with newly born Ethiopian and Sudanese children.

“Why practice on these families?” Asulin told an undercover reporter. “They have no mother or father, so that whatever you do, there won’t be a problem. Do you understand? Even if you make a crooked cut, they won’t say anything, because they don’t understand anything.”

“Why does everyone go to them? Because that’s where you learn. They are cannon fodder, as they say.”

Many non-Jewish Sudanese and Ethiopian families practice circumcision for cultural reasons. In the recording, Asulin says that such families are easily deceived and that they would not realise that the students being sent to them had no practical experience.

Muslims and Jews in Israel and the Palestinian territories are routinely circumcised. The Jewish circumcising ceremony, known as a Brit milah, takes place on the eighth day after the child's birth and is followed by a celebratory meal.

According to the report, Asulin is not the only mohel who has told his students to take advantage of low-income families.

Other recorded conversations with mohels from Petah Tikva, Bat Yam and Rishon Lezion in central Israel also featured rabbis making similar statements.

In response to the expose, Asulin said the footage had been "edited" to make his words look incriminating.

“I have circumcised thousands of Ethiopian babies and I see that as a holy mission. I will continue to dedicate my life to the public,” he added.

The Chief Rabbinate said in a statement that, if the allegations seen in the video were true, they would "see this as a very grave incident".