Israeli Knesset Committee Seeks End to European Bans on Kosher Slaughter

Knesset Committee on Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs chair says attempts to outlaw 'Shecita' contain 'anti-Semitic' elements.

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A Knesset committee announced Tuesday that it would call on European parliaments and the European Union to put a stop to attempts to outlaw kosher slaughter.

The announcement was made following a meeting by the Knesset Committee on Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, who discussed the wave of European legislation seeking to ban Jewish ritual slaughter of animals, or "Shechita".

A butcher in Geneva.Credit: Reuters

"The pretext [for this legislation] is preventing cruelty to animals or animal rights – but there is sometimes an element of anti-Semitism and there is a hidden message that Jews are cruel to animals," said Committee Chair MK Danny Danon (Likud).

Tuesday's debate was initiated by MK Jacob Edery (Kadima), who came across the issue during a recent visit to Holland.

According to a statement released by the Knesset committee, Holland's Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, said some 2,500 heads of beef are slaughtered annually in Holland for Jewish consumption, and that the price of kosher meat is 200% more that non-kosher meat.

The statement also said that "Italy's Chief Rabbi, Prof. Riccardo Di Segni, said the principle opponents of Shechita in Europe are the Green parties and those that are anti-immigration, particularly of Muslims. Rabbi Di Segni stressed that the requirement is to stun the animals prior to slaughtering, and while most Moslems are actually prepared to do this, Jewish religious law forbids this, so that the new laws specifically target Jews."

According to the statement, Moshe Friedman, Spokesman of the Conference of European Rabbis, reported that in May 2009 the European Parliament voted with a large majority against the proposal to ban Shechita, and this vote was approved by the Council of the European Union in December 2010. The European Union reportedly rejected a proposal to label kosher meat as "meat from slaughter without stunning, but Friedman warned similar legislative proposals are likely. The Knesset committee statement added that Freidman said Shechita and trade in kosher meat were banned in Switzerland around a century ago and that Norway passed a similar law 4 years ago.

Danon requested the Knesset Research and Information Center carry out a study on the issue and the committee intends to reconvene next month.