Peres Takes Up Circumcision Battle In Letter To Council Of Europe

From fragrances to finance, creating common rules is vital for reaching a deal between the European Union and United States that officials say can boost economic output by more than $100 billion a year on each side of the Atlantic. For example, EU law requires water be labelled “aqua” in Latin as an ingredient of perfume. When the same bottle is sold in the United States, regulations demand a living language be used: water must be labelled as “water”. Such relatively minor obstacles, which add to the cost of transatlantic business, will probably be ironed out at negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, the second round of which begins on Monday. But nowhere is the challenge more difficult or pressing than in finance as both sides struggle to restore stability to their economies and markets. The EU wants financial regulation to be a central part of an agreement whereas Washington is resisting, worried this will bog down the already complex talks on the world’s biggest trade agreement. “We are taking a pragmatic approach,” EU trade chief Karel De Gucht said last month, backing the inclusion of finance. “We will try to make the technical aspects of EU and U.S. regulations more compatible.” After five years of crisis, both see a deal as a way to reinvigorate their economies and create jobs when China’s rising might threatens to eclipse their global standing. Since tariffs between the EU and United States are already low, around 80 percent of the gains of any agreement will come from creating common rules for businesses. Both sides hope the talks, which began in July, can finish by the end of this year. It is an ambitious goal for countries that together produce half the world’s economic output. The great, hoped-for benefit is that by agreeing one shared financial regulatory standard, many costs and hurdles hindering transatlantic finance will be removed, making the sector even more dynamic and speeding the wheels of trade and industry.

Continental Europe ends Seve Trophy drought

President Shimon Peres Photo: REUTERS President Shimon Peres on Monday sent a letter to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland, asking for his intervention on the recent call for a ban on ritual circumcision by the inter-governmental body and urging it to reconsider its position. The forty seven member state body is not affiliated with the European Union. Related: Proposed circumcision ban a sign of anti-Semitism Stressing the great importance of circumcision in Jewish and Muslim religious tradition, Peres noted that male circumcision has been practiced by Jewish communities for thousands of years and is a fundamental element and obligation of Jewish tradition. Addressing Jagland by his first name, as an indication of their close relationship, and reminding him that he has dedicated a large part of his career to defending civil liberties, Peres stressed that Jewish communities across Europe would be greatly afflicted to see their cultural and religious freedom impeded upon by the Council of Europe, which Peres observed is “an institution devoted to the protection of these very rights.” European Jewish leaders have responded to the proposal that governments reassess their rules on circumcision harshly, calling the Council of Europes Parliamentary Assemblys declaration that the practice is a violation of the physical integrity of children everything from an expression of anti-semitism to insanity. In response to criticism by the Foreign Ministry accusing the European body of equating female genital mutilation with male ritual circumcision and ignoring medical research indicating the practices medical benefits, Marlene Rupprecht, the Parliamentary Assemblys rapporteur, placed the fostering of debate over circumcision into the same category as battling anti-semitism. The text adopted by the parliamentarians in a vote does not intend to stigmatise any religious community or its practices. On the contrary, the Assembly calls for public debate, including intercultural and interreligious dialogue, aimed at reaching a wide consensus on the rights of children to protection against violations of their physical integrity, she said in a statement on the groups website. It is the Council of Europes mandate to promote the respect for human rights, including childrens rights, on an equal footing with the fight against racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia. Echoing the comments of their European counterparts, American Jewish leaders also blasted the Councils recommendations. The Anti-Defamation League asserted that the resolution targets Europes Jewish citizens and predicted dire results if such an anti-circumcision measure should actually become law within any of the inter-governmental bodys member countries. Circumcision on the eighth day is nearly universally practiced among Jews, and its ban could lead to entire Jewish communities leaving Europe, ADL National Director Abe Foxman said. The resolutions suggestion for so-called dialogue with religious leaders to overcome this four thousand year tradition and to adopt laws requiring a childs consent, are steps toward de facto prohibition. It is inconceivable that a Jewish community could remain in any country that banned brit milah. The report on which the resolution is based contains attacks on Judaism, he continued. The report calls the religious practice the dark side of Judaism, labels it a human rights violation, and falsely suggests that alternative rituals are accepted by mainstream Jewish religious authorities. Foxman also accused Rupprecht of expressing regret that the German parliament protected circumcision, likely referring to her prior assertion that having explored this issue in detail during the recent legislative debate in my own country, Germany, I would like to show why circumcision applied to young boys clearly is a human rights violation against children, although it is so widely performed both in the medical and in the religious context. Circumcision, she wrote it the report upon which the Council resolution was based, may have serious short-term and long-term consequences for the health and well-being of boys and men.

RPT-Split on finance overshadows Europe-U.S. trade talks

Continental Europe was ahead after the first two days, but GB&I rallied during Saturday’s foursomes to pull even, 9 – 9, entering the singles. Both teams were awarded a half point Sunday morning when GB&I’s Simon Khan withdrew with a back injury, which forced Continental European to eliminate one of its players as well. Thomas Bjorn drew that unlucky distinction, leaving both sides in need of five points for the victory. The singles went down to the final match, and as he did at the Ryder Cup in Medinah, Francesco Molinari anchored the winning side, securing a long-awaited Continental Europe victory with a 3 & 2 defeat of Chris Wood at Saint-Nom-La- Breteche. “Very emotional — it’s been a tough day,” said winning captain Jose Maria Olazabal. “Everything went to the last match. The boys really played well today and I’m very, very happy to have won the Seve Trophy this time.” GB&I struck first on Sunday when Tommy Fleetwood claimed his first point of the week with a 3 & 2 win over Joost Luiten, who was unbeaten entering the match. After Jamie Donaldson and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano halved their match, Ryder Cup standout Nicolas Colsaerts drew Continental Europe even, draining a 5- footer for par at the last to secure a 1-up win over Paul Casey. Frenchman Gregory Bourdy then continued his stellar play and pushed Continental Europe in front with a 4 & 3 triumph over Scott Jamieson. Bourdy, who never trailed in the match, became the first player in the event’s history to win five points out of five. “I’m so happy to achieve that, and it was an amazing week for me,” said Bourdy. The jostling continued, however, as Marc Warren wrapped up a 4 & 3 ousting of Thorbjorn Olesen to again square the tournament, 12 – 12, with four matches left on the course.