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Dutch Jews Worry About Religious Freedom After Slaughter Ban

Dutch Chief Rabbi Benjamin Jacobs: The ban on kosher slaughter is a fight against religion. Will they ban circumcision next?
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 7/7/2011, 3:54 AM / Last Update: 7/7/2011, 12:14 PM

Flash 90

The recent vote by Dutch legislators to ban kosher slaughter has left local Jews concerned, according to Dutch Chief Rabbi Benjamin Jacobs.

Speaking to Arutz Sheva’s Hebrew-language news service on Wednesday, Rabbi Jacobs said that those who initiated the kosher slaughter ban misled lawmakers when they claimed that Jewish slaughter hurts animals.

“The non-Jews themselves do not give an animal anesthetic,” he said. “They shoot it in the head with a metal bullet which sometimes causes the animal much grief, because it cannot move but it is still alive and suffering. Jewish slaughter does not cause suffering. Unfortunately, Dutch members of parliament do not know what kosher slaughter is and they think we give the animal an anesthetic, but this is not true. The gentiles are the ones who cause animals great pain, not Jews.”

Rabbi Jacobs is arguing that the initiators of the bill based it on research for which they paid money in order to get the desired results.

“We have already begun a legal procedure against the university which initiated the study,” he said. “We’re trying to figure out who paid them for the research. Furthermore, the study was based on Muslim slaughter and not Jewish slaughter.”

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs worked ceasefully to help Holland's Jewish community try to prevent the ban and even Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks of England flew to Holland to add his expertise.

However, last week, the Dutch parliament voted by a majority of 116 against 30 to ban kosher slaughter in the country. While the bill does not affect the import of kosher meat, importing meat will be a major financial burden for observant Jews because of the higher cost.

The bill includes a loophole, but one which would be difficult to employ. It states that ritual slaughtering by Jews, as well as by Muslims, can be permitted if it can be proved that the method is less painful than stunning.

The bill must be approved by the Senate and the Government Cabinet before becoming law, and Rabbi Jacobs noted that it will also require other approvals.

“We certainly hope that the Dutch upper house will not accept the law,” he said. “There are also all sorts of other legal matters involved.”

Rabbi Jacobs asserted that if the law is approved it will have serious consequences for the lives of Jews, both in Holland and in other parts of Europe.

“Although we can import kosher meat from elsewhere, the meaning of the law is actually to stop our religious freedom,” he said. “I fear that their next battle against us would be to ban circumcision, since if there is no freedom of religion, tomorrow they can easily tell us we deform a child at the age of eight days without asking his opinion. This is a war against religion.”

He added that the law severely hurts the feelings of Holocaust survivors still living in Holland.

“There are some people in Holland who are suffering a great deal. I spoke with a 94-year-old woman who said that this struggle reminds her of very dark periods. I hope the law will not be accepted, because if it is passed it would have an effect on all countries in Europe. The Netherlands are considered a symbol.”