Thursday, May 07, 2009

EU Legalizes Kosher Slaughtering--But The Battle Is Not Over

For now, a battle has been won:
The European Union Parliament on Wednesday voted to legalize kosher slaughtering, which has been outlawed by six countries -- but a critical vote next month will determine if EU countries can effectively get around the approval by demanding pre-stunning, which violates Jewish dietary laws.

The European Jewish Congress and conference of European Jewish Rabbis lobbied heavily for the bill and defeated efforts by animal rights groups to ban kosher slaughtering, which demands swift death to the animal by use of a sharp knife at the throat.

Animal rights groups have claimed the method is cruel and have succeeded in banning kosher slaughtering in Latvia, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Estonia and Lithuania. Switzerland allows the method for poultry but not for other animals.

...The anti-kosher slaughtering bills have been viewed as anti-Semitic by many Jews in Europe, where Hitler banned the method as one of his first steps against Jews.
It's not clear from the article whether just because the EU recognizes shechitah as a valid method of slaughtering, those countries which currently outlaw it will suddenly lift their ban.

In his book, Behind the Humanitarian Mask: The Nordic Countries, Israel and the Jews (available for free on the web (PDF), Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld--Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs--writes that the humanitarian concern lacks a certain consistency:
In Norway, Jewish ritual slaughter has been forbidden since well before World War II, under Nazi influence. On the other hand, except for Norway, Japan, and Iceland no countries allow whaling. The Norwegian quota for the 2008 season is the highest, with over one thousand whales to be killed. These mammals are harpooned and die in an exceptionally cruel way. [see Introduction]
The upcoming vote on pre-stunning is a major concern that will undo this victory.

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