In a letter to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and other prominent Dutch politicians, European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor expressed the “deepest concern” of the Jewish community for the proposed legislation that would effectively ban kosher slaughter in Holland.
The letter was sent as the Dutch parliament is preparing to vote next week on a new legislation that restricts the right to perform religious slaughter, known as shechita, by pre-stunning of the animals.
If the legislation is passed it would make Holland the first European Union nation to ban shechita, and the first European country to do so since the 1930’s.
“If this law is passed it will have a momentous effect on the centuries-old Jewish life in Holland,” Kantor wrote. And it will have a domino effect threat in other parts of Europe.
This ban, he said, will almost solely affect the Jewish community and “is in direct opposition to Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights. namely the right to freedom of religion.”
Under Jewish law, which has been practiced for millennia, stunning before slaughter is completely forbidden whereas under Islamic law, there are many interpretations which allow prior stunning.
“While the proposed law suggests that two million animals are slaughtered according to religious tradition every year in Holland, our records indicate that Jewish slaughter rarely exceeds a couple of thousand animals annually,” the EJC leader also said.
“So this law would only infringe on and single out the rights of a very small minority and have little effect on the vast majority of religious slaughter in The Netherlands.”
According to Kantor, “a lot of misinformation surrounding kosher slaughter is being spread ahead of the vote.” “There is no scientific evidence that the Jewish ritual slaughter causes any additional unnecessary pain to the animal than stunned slaughter,” he said, referring to a study conducted by the Wageningen University “that proves the opposite, that Shechita is more animal friendly than many other types of slaughter.”
“Unlike in other religious traditions, the Jewish slaughterer must undergo an extremely rigorous training that entails an expert slaughter with a minimum of pain caused to the animal. Good treatment of animals is an ancient guiding principle in Jewish law and tradition and everything surrounding this principle is adhered to during the slaughter.”
Shechita is permissible under European law.