Though out history, everywhere the Hebrew and Jewish people had moved there have been attempts to suppress and cut down on their freedoms. Some had gone the easy route and just killed the Jews they could find. Others had banned their traditions to try and make them forget who they are. One of the classic means to persecute them was to ban Circumcision.
Although Circumcision is mainly related to the Hebrew people, Muslims and Ancient Egyptians have also used the act in their traditions, but never has it been challenged as directly as is with the Hebrews.
Meaning to the Hebrew People
The act of removing the foreskin from a male in the eight day of their lives is a reflection of their beliefs of a holy Covenant between Abraham and God. One of the requirements of the Covenant is that foreskin be removed from males on the eight day of their lives and from all male slaves. The removal has developed into a ceremony called a Brit milah(or Bris milah, colloquially simply bris), which means "Covenant of circumcision" in Hebrew.
The one who does the removal is commonly a mohel, someone trained in the removal and can do it safely. The circumcision may be performed using surgical clamp techniques or with a special disposable plastic device called a Plastibell. All that is required by the parents afterwards is that the area is cleaned as per doctor or mohel's orders to prevent infection.
Use of Ban to harm the Hebrew People
Thoughout history cultures and societies that have sought to hurt Jews have attacked circumcision. Ancient Greeks enacted a ban when Jews started gaining influence in the area. King Antiochus IV of Syria, the occupying power of Judea in 170 BC, outlawed circumcision on penalty of death. Roman emperor Hadrian issued a decree banning circumcision in the empire. Antoninus Pius permitted Jews to circumcise their own sons. However, he forbade the circumcision of non-Jews that were either foreign-slaves or non-Jewish members of the household, contrary to Genesis 17:12. He also made it illegal for a man to convert to Judaism. Antoninus Pius exempted the Egyptian priesthood from the otherwise universal ban on circumcision.
Recent attacks on Circumcision
In the 21st Century, a new ban has been brought up in San Francisco. Under the guise of infant health, people like Lloyd Schofield and Matt Hess have been pushing to ban circumcision in the city limits. Matt Hess is also using media like the comic Foreskin Man to push the issue and paint the Jewish people and specifically the mohel who perform the operation as evil.