Jews slam Belgian region's plan to ban ritual slaughter

The head of the European Jewish Association described the decision as "dubious and unsettling" and accused lawmakers of targeting Jews.

A KOSHER slaughterhouse. (photo credit: REUTERS)
A KOSHER slaughterhouse.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Members of Europe’s Jewish communities on Thursday slammed a proposal by the Belgian region of Flanders to ban the unstunned slaughter of small animals, which they say would contravene their rules for shechita (slaughter) according to Jewish law.
Under the draft law, animals like sheep and poultry would have to be stunned electrically before being killed, which most animal rights campaigners say is more humane than the Islamic halal and Jewish kosher rituals. Both require that butchers swiftly slaughter the animal by slitting its throat and draining the blood.
The Flemish Jewish community said it was studying the proposal and that stunned slaughter was not in line with Jewish religious law.
Chief Rabbi Goldschmidt, President of the Conference of European Rabbis, said: “We are deeply disappointed by the decision in the Flemish Parliament which ignores the needs and rights of religious communities as well as a significant body of scientific opinion. We are seeking urgent talks with the Flemish authorities and will work with the local Jewish community to reverse this decision as soon as possible.”
The head of the European Jewish Association, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, released a more strongly worded statement, describing the decision as "dubious and unsettling" and accusing lawmakers of targeting Jews and Jewish practices under the guise of animal welfare.
“Kosher meat is responsible for a minute fraction of the cattle slaughtered in Belgium," Margolin said. "Not only that, when compared to the meat most Europeans buy in the supermarket - which equates to mass animal slaughter - kosher, with minimizing the suffering of the animal as its very core, represents truly humane slaughter. This does not even mention the abhorrent ways most animals are shipped around Europe in containers for non-Kosher meat."
Belgium's Muslim community, too, spoke out against the plan, saying its religious council has previously expressed its opposition to stunned slaughter and there had been no change in its stance since then.