In times when Jews were the only people circumcising themselves (Islam did not yet exist, and ancient Egypt was a memory of the past) tyrannical governments and anti-Semitic regimes made themselves the police over Judaism’s oldest practice. The first commandment G-d gave to Abraham was to circumcise himself and all the males of his household. The climax of this commandment came when Yitzchak was born, and Abraham was able to circumcise his baby at the mandated hour, the eighth day of life.
From Talmudic times until today, circumcision was viewed as a “Jewish act” and was the target of anti-Jewish sentiment in ancient Greece, ancient Rome, leading up to czarist and communist Russia, as well as Nazi Germany.
Only in the United States of America, where freedom of religion was established in the Constitution, and where from the 1950s on, the option of “routine circumcision” was offered to parents in hospitals and even topped 90 percent participation at times, was circumcision not viewed as being something uniquely Jewish. It has been viewed as an objectively normal procedure, with an inordinately small number of complications.
The debate has raged on in medical journals over the efficacy and necessary nature of the procedure, with some arguing for it and some arguing against it at all times. The tide has turned to each extreme many times over the last few decades.
Arguments for circumcision include health benefits: lesser chances of penile cancer, HIV and AIDS transmission, STDs, urinary tract infections. The circumcised male organ is much easier to clean, and is therefore much less inviting to bacteria that cause other significant infections. And, in cases of an irregular anatomy, a medical circumcision is sometimes necessary for the sake of the health of the child in question.
Arguments against circumcision include data of botched circumcisions, unnecessary pain, and many arguments in favor of the foreskin whose nerves are highly sensitive and serve an important role in the marital act of intimacy.