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Group calls on Dutch rightists to support ‘shechita’
By GIL SHEFLER
08/22/2012
Simon Wiesenthal Center urges Geert Wilders to withdraw his party's support from bill that would ban Jewish ritual slaughter.
 
The Simon Wiesenthal Center has urged a rightist party in the Netherlands to oppose the passing of a bill that would ban shechita (Jewish ritual slaughter), in that country, it emerged on Tuesday Rabbi Abraham Cooper sent a letter to Geert Wilders, the head of the Party for Freedom – known for its opposition to immigration and Islam – earlier this month asking him to bar party members from supporting legislation that would outlaw the rite on grounds it is inhumane.

“Mr. Wilders, I am fully aware of your support of the Jewish state of Israel and therefore urge you to publicly disassociate yourself from [Party for Freedom MP Dion] Graus’ crusade [to pass the schechita ban] and to drop the Freedom Party’s sponsorship of legislation that insults and denigrates Jews and Judaism,” Cooper wrote in an email to Wilders dated August 15.

“Without doubt should this bill become law in democratic Holland, it will further encourage and empower anti-Semitism across Europe,” said Cooper.

Wilders is a controversial Dutch politician whose party came third in the last elections on a campaign of banning the Koran, and imposing a tax on wearers of Muslim headscarves.

Members of the Jewish community in the Netherlands have been battling animal rights activists who have deemed schechita inhumane for years. If passed, the ban would also outlaw Islamic ritual slaughter on the same grounds.

Wilders replied to Cooper on Monday saying opposition to schechita was not part of his party’s agenda and that Graus had withdrawn his support.

“The Animal Party is said to be working on a new bill, but, contrary to what you write, Mr Dion Graus has not put forward a bill regarding ritual slaughter,” he wrote.

Wilders, who has frequently visited Israel and claims to be a strong supporter of the Jewish state, added that “anti-Semites will never be tolerated in the PVV [Freedom Party].”

In a subsequent statement, Cooper repeated his call on Wilders.

“We reiterate our call to Mr. Wilders again to fully disassociate the party from the ban and to instead work with all parties to find a compromise approach that maintains the religious freedom of – and respect for – Dutch Jewish citizens,” Cooper said.
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