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Dutch Jews Mobilize Against Attempt to Outlaw Kosher Slaughter

Dutch Jews Mobilize Against Attempt to Outlaw Kosher Slaughter

The Dutch Parliament building in The Hague
The Dutch Parliament building in The Hague

Amid a wider European debate targeting kosher slaughtering practices inhumane, the Dutch Parliament is considering banning any slaughter of animals not stunned prior to killing.

The proposal, introduced by a far-left minority animal rights party with only two seats in the legislative body, would effectively outlaw kosher slaughtering in the Netherlands, a prospect that has its already-diminishing Jewish community accusing politicians of unfairly targeting a fundamental religious practice.

“I would not have bad feelings if the Party for Animals wanted to completely ban any and all slaughtering,” stated Dutch Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary in Amersfoort. “Every home would be vegetarian and then it would be equal.

“But that’s not what this is,” he added. “It’s nonsense.”

Introduced by Party for Animals leader Marianne Thieme, the bill targets kosher slaughter – known in Hebrew as shechita – for its religious requirement that an animal be conscious when its throat is cut. Modern slaughtering practices, by contrast, use either a bolt shot into an animal’s head or electrocution to stun an animal before it’s killed.

But some animal scientists, most notably Colorado State University professor Temple Grandin, assert that modern slaughtering practices cause more pain and suffering to animals. In her research, Grandin even demonstrated that when ritually slaughtered for kosher consumption, large animals exhibited much less stress.

“People think stunning is just a little injection, but they use a gun,” said Jacobs. “Just because the animal is immobilized, doesn’t mean it doesn’t suffer. And when the animal is shot inaccurately, it clearly suffers like mad.”

Opponents of the bill, which would also ban ritual Muslim slaughtering practices, call it a thinly-disguised form of xenophobia. They note that its backers include such disparate allies as the Socialist Party and the extreme-right Party for Freedom.

Jacobs is leading the charge to convince a majority of the legislature to vote against the measure. And Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, penned a letter to Prime Minister Mark Rutte asserting the pending legislation to be a violation of Article IX of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees protections of religious practices.

Rabbi Raphael Evers of the Rotterdam Federation of Jewish Orthodox Communities in the Netherlands, echoed Kantor’s claim.

“Our Jewish community feels very shocked,” he said. “We have been here in the Netherlands for 400 years and we see this new law against ritual slaughter as an infringement of our constitutional religious rights.”

Switzerland has not allowed kosher slaughter since 1893, and Norway banned it in 1930; Hitler, meanwhile, outlawed the practice in 1933 just after taking power. The Dutch effort, however, would be the first such legislation passed in Europe since the Holocaust.

It comes alongside a European Parliament bill that would mandate labeling of kosher-slaughtered meat as “unstunned before slaughter.”

Dutch Jews see the issue as a wake-up call.

“The older generation is very worried,” said Bluma Jacobs. “First this, and then what?”

Local newspapers have been running articles discussing outlawing ritual circumcision in the last couple weeks, she pointed out. She also fears that Jewish education will face legal challenges.

While the Netherlands has about 50,000 Jews, only about 500 families keep kosher. There is one ritual slaughterer who processes about 2,500 animals each year. Kosher meat is also imported from France and England.

But according to Jacobs, whose familial roots in the country go back more than 250 years, outlawing the import of kosher meat might be the next step if the bill passes.

“The Jewish people, especially Holocaust survivors, are getting scared,” said Binyomin Jacobs. “They’re asking if they have to leave.”

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Matt Dublin, Ireland June 14, 2011

proposed ban on kosher and halal slaughter Do the Dutch parliamentarians not realise that by voting to ban kosher and halal slaughter they are yielding to pressure from another sort of fundamentalist group, i.e. the animal rights movement? What a crazy and intolerant step. Koshe slaughter is no worse than any other kind and probably less industrialised. Ban all animal slaughter or none but don't attack the beliefs of minorities. Dat is niet koosjer. Reply

Gilly / gilliead May 9, 2011

Holand boycott The fact that Jewish people are revolted against the attempts made in order to bannish kosher food is really ok. The banishment of Kosher food is symptomatic in three regards: It reflects the moralization of the illegal boycott in regard to Isreali products; it is inherent part of the anti Semitic campaign in which are engaged EU leftist and right wing leaders and their sheeps; it provides the ecological legitilazation for te destruction of Israel.
The pityful lesson - after all, if the Jews not even respect the soul of the animal - how can they respect human being and themselves?
Another master-piece of pityful anti- Jewish propoaganda! Reply

Anonymous Scottsdale, AZ May 9, 2011

I think that the jews of holland should leave and take with them the Skill, Conections and trade of Diamonds and leave HOLLAND to enjoy their new majority of CITICENS,
MUSLIMS. Here we go again. They can't tellto our face we not wanted, but by making it hard to stay there. Reply

agarran los angeles May 9, 2011

It's packing & leavin time again~ C u in Eretz Yisrael......If Holland passes this kosher law, it's the beginning of an end. If San Francisco passes the circumcision law....all these little things. You know, eventually it ends the same old way. Time to talk about it. Reply

Lisa in Monterey Monterey, CA May 8, 2011

This is what I think I used to work with a guy who operated a stunning bolt in a slaughterhouse. Apparently it isn't very humane at all, but is absolutely stomach churning. This guy - a tough, kinf of unsentimental type of guy - couldn't take it (although the money was good) and had to quit after a relatively short amount of time.

I think that people who talk about banning kosher slaughter don't really know what they are talking about, and don't seem to know what 'stunning' is about. Reply

Rivka NYC, NY May 5, 2011

Isn't time to leave yet? Dear Rabbi jacobs,
what do you answer to the people that ask you if it's time to leave?
what else are we waiting for to happen to pack and go?

I ask the question to Rabbis in new York...
but no Rabbi is saying its time to leave to Israel.
Could Rabbis be misleading us?
what are the inmistakable signs that its time to leave?
would then be too late? Reply

never surrender a true story gaat je niet aan May 5, 2011

“I would not have bad feelings if the Party for Animals wanted to completely ban any and all slaughtering,” stated Dutch Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary in Amersfoort. “Every home would be vegetarian and then it would be equal.

what a funny explanation. what is most respectful for the animal is what needs to be done. Reply

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