Polish Panel Aims to Resolve Dispute Over Kosher-slaughter Ban

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Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has ordered the establishment of a special committee tasked with resolving the dispute over the country's kosher-slaughter ban, according to the director general of the European Jewish Association, Rabbi Menachem Margolin.

Margolin, who will be a member of the committee, told Haaretz he was contacted about the panel by the Polish ambassador to the European Union, Mark Pravda.

"I told the Polish ambassador to the EU that the Jewish people cannot accept the fact that there is a country in Europe that declares the Jewish people and its behavior as something primitive, and therefore we are required to find a solution to this story," said Margolin.

The committee, which will begin meeting in a few days, will be headed by Polish Minister of Administration and Digitization Michal Jan Boni. Boni is also responsible for religious affairs in Poland.

Last Friday, the Polish parliament rejected a government-backed bill that would have allowed slaughterhouses to produce kosher meat, angering Jewish groups who say the decision violates their religious rights.

Lawmakers who opposed the bill said they did so because kosher slaughter (shechita) is cruel to livestock. The practice was halted last year by a constitutional court ruling on a petition brought by animal rights groups to ban kosher slaughter.

The bill's defeat was a setback for Tusk, who has sought to strengthen ties  with Israel.

The Polish government has also ordered its legal advisers to examine the legal aspects of the ban on kosher slaughter, Margolin said. This includes the claim that the ban is unconstitutional because the Polish constitution protects freedom of religion and religious rites of minorities.

Margolin told Haaretz he was informed by Boni that it is possible the ban on shechita will be canceled within a few days once the legal advisers weigh in on the issue.

Margolin compared Poland's shechita ban to the debate last year in Germany over a German court's decision to ban ritual circumcision.

"In Germany, despite the court decision against circumcision, Chancellor
Angela Merkel decided to act [by means of] legislation, and in the end solved the problem and allowed the performance of the religious custom," said

IllustrationCredit: Reuters

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