Banning kosher shechita is a direct attack on Jews

I am not one to seek, and then find, Jewish hatred in every corner and under every rock. But in Greece, I discovered it in the open.

The recent decision by the Greek Supreme Court to lift the ban on kosher and halal meat slaughter is an obvious and direct attack on Jews and Muslims. It is an attack on the freedom of Jews and Muslims to practice their religions.

No obfuscation of intentions, no need for interpretation. The thought is clear.

Animal rights are more important than religious freedom. The animal lobby is more powerful than the Jewish lobby. Greece is just one example.

This deprivation of religious freedom is occurring throughout Europe.

A Greek national flag flies as people visit a beach, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Athens, Greece, on April 28, 2020 (credit: GORAN TOMASEVIC / REUTERS)

Jewish communities are declining. In many of these countries, there is no one left to defend the rights of the few who remain.

In this case, in Greece, the Greek Supreme Court ruled on a ministerial exception for religious slaughter. The exception was the Greek law that required the stunning of an animal before slaughter. The Jews needed that exception.

They trusted him because shechita as it is known, or kosher ritual slaughter, it is not kosher if the animal is stunned or anesthetized. So also, according to halal, or Islamic ritual of slaughter of animals.

The original purpose of the ministerial exception was specifically to create a balance that would allow for kosher slaughter while avoiding cruelty to animals. But now, in a radical twist, the court has ruled against that very balance and has banned all killing without stunning.

In a measure that can only be described as the height of absurdity, the courts write: “The government should regulate the issue of animal sacrifice in the context of worship in such a way as to ensure both the protection of animals from any inconvenience during the sacrifice and religious freedom of religious Muslims and Jews living in Greece. “

Seriously? They simply ruled against the same compromise they asked for in their decision. Greece was once a large, prosperous Jewish community. But today, as we all know, Greece is not the center of the world’s kosher slaughter industry.

Thessaloniki, also known as Thessaloniki, was the great city of Greece. The Jews were an important feature of the city. In 1902 of the 126,000 inhabitants of Thessaloniki, 62,000 were Jews. Once upon a time there was the center of Jewish publications. The ports of Thessaloniki were closed on Shabbat because the entire industry was controlled by Jews. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Jews from Thessaloniki were drawn to Haifa to work in the port. They were better trained and motivated than the inhabitants of British Mandate Palestine.

Before the Holocaust, Thessaloniki was home to 55,000 Jews. Fewer than 2,000 survived the Nazi killing machine. Today there are just 1,000 Jews in all of Greece. Greek Jews are not sacrificing many animals. This is not an industry. And so the religious exception was a good solution.

There is no reason to insist on a change in the law, just create the exception!

Unfortunately, Greece does not want an exception. It is part of a trend that is loaded in Europe. The trend is to protect animals from cruelty over religious freedom, over religious freedom for Jews and Muslims.

Some might argue that these trends and laws are actually anti-immigrant rulings against Muslims. They may be right. That this is really an anti-Muslim movement and that small and powerless Jewish communities are caught in the net.

Look at the trend. Countries in the European Union that now prohibit kosher slaughter include, but are not limited to, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Slovenia, and Estonia. In 2011, the Netherlands banned kosher slaughter and then, in 2012, they reversed the decision. In 2013, Poland banned shechita and then revised the ban to mean that it only prohibits the slaughter of kosher meat for export.

These laws, these bans, are effectively preventing, and no doubt deterring, Jews from moving to these countries.

An even more sinister parallel trend is emerging in many of these countries. It is also an attack on Jews and Muslims. I mean the measure to ban medical / non-surgical circumcision. Those who press to prevent this ancient Jewish and Muslim custom claim that it involves the abuse and mutilation of children. And they are frank and persuasive.

Preventing cruelty is an important value. Certainly for both newborn Jewish babies and animals, they are Jewish values. They are universal values. I think everyone will agree with that.

But now a compromise has to be made. Accommodations must be enacted. Greece would do well to emulate Poland. Legislate the religious exception for ritual slaughter and prohibit the industry and export of meat. However, I don’t think it will happen.

I don’t think the powers that be are interested in compromising because banning shechita It is a ritual red herring.

The writer is a columnist and social and political commentator.

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