Ban on ritual poultry slaughter nixed in New Zealand

Authorities had forbidden kosher slaughter, saying method of not stunning livestock before their slaughter is inhumane.

By GIL STERN STERN SHEFLER
November 28, 2010 17:36
2 minute read.
Ban on ritual poultry slaughter nixed in New Zealand

shechita ritual slaughter bloody 248 88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )

 
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New Zealand lifted a ban on Jewish slaughter of poultry on Friday, reaching a deal that allowed the practice of shechita to resume there on a limited scale after a prohibition was put in place last May.

The local government dropped its objections to the practice only two days before it was scheduled to be debated in court, where a judge would have determined whether or not the ban was an infringement on religious rights. A ban on the preparation of kosher mutton and beef remains in effect, but is being negotiated.

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“We are pleased to announce that we have reached agreement with the Minister of Agriculture which will enable the shechita of poultry to continue in New Zealand,” Garth Cohen, president of the Auckland Hebrew Congregation, said last Friday in a press release.

“Court orders putting that agreement into effect were made at the High Court in Wellington this afternoon,” he said.

New Zealand authorities had forbidden the local preparation of kosher meat on grounds of animal welfare concerns, saying the method, which does not allow the stunning of livestock before slaughter, was inhumane.

Jewish authorities claimed in response that Jewish law was deeply concerned with animal welfare, and that shechita had been in practice for thousands of years and was permissible in most countries.



Yitzhak Treister, treasurer of the Israel-New Zealand Friendship Association, told The Jerusalem Post that Friday’s decision marked a return to the previous status-quo, as most kosher beef and mutton is imported from Australia.

“The 5,000 Jews in New Zealand now have tremendous legal fees to pay,” Treister added. “They won’t get a court settlement, as there is no case.”

Meanwhile, a national newspaper in New Zealand raised allegations that the decision by Agriculture Minister David Carter to ban shechita may have been influenced by concerns over how it might affect trade with Islamic nations.

In New Zealand, preparation of meat according to Islamic dietary laws, known as halal, is prohibited because it also objects to stunning livestock before slaughter.

According to the New Zealand Herald, Carter was allegedly concerned that showing preference to the Jewish community might hurt his country’s commercial or diplomatic ties with the Muslim world.

The Herald quoted New Zealand Prime Minister John Key as coming out in defense of Carter, saying his colleague’s motivations were purely ethical.

The prime minister – whose parents were Jewish immigrants from Europe, although he reportedly considers himself agnostic – said he had “no concerns” over Carter’s conduct in the affair.


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