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Holland Rejects Proposed Ban on Kosher Slaughter

The Dutch Parliament's upper house has rejected a proposal to ban kosher slaughter, saying it violates freedom of religion.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 12/15/2011, 2:13 AM

A proposal bill to ban Jewish kosher slaughter of animals in Holland was rejected late Tuesday by the upper house of the Parliament on the ground that it violates freedom of religion, the European Jewish Press reported.

The bill, which was presented by the small Animal Rights Party earlier this year, called for a total ban of slaughter without prior stunning of the animal.

In June, the Dutch parliament voted by a majority of 116 against 30 in favor of the legislation, but EJP noted that since that time several political parties have changed their stance on the matter, including the Socialist and Liberal parties which constitute the largest groups in the Senate.

The proposal for the bill claimed that there is evidence that the practice of kosher slaughtering causes animals unnecessary pain and suffering. The truth, however, is that Jewish slaughter does not cause suffering.

The bill theoretically would have affected Holland’s one million Muslims as well, but Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, who has been following the issue closely, told Arutz Sheva in June that a large majority of Dutch Muslims do not care whether animals are stunned and then slaughtered according to the halal laws of Islam.

EJP reported that Dutch Deputy Minister for Agriculture and Environment Henk Bleker presented a compromise proposal, which calls for agreements with slaughterhouses and the Islamic and Jewish communities over permissible slaughter practices in order to improve the welfare of the slaughtered animals.

Ronnie Eisenmann, chairman of the Jewish Community of Amsterdam, told EJP Jews are relieved “that the Senate wants us to look at improving animal welfare but that it didn’t support the proposed bill.”

He added, “We share the concern for animal welfare and in that sense we have respect for the efforts of Marianne Thieme [the MP who introduced the legislation, ed.]. Our invitation to her to discuss the possibilities remains. A categorical rejection of the Jewish ritual slaughter is contrary to freedom of religion, as she herself acknowledges.”

World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder also welcomed the Senate’s rejection of a ban on kosher slaughter and welcomed the compromise proposal.

“This is good news, and we hope that an acceptable arrangement can be found that safeguards the right of the Jewish community to practice kosher slaughter,” Lauder said in a statement quoted by EJP.

He added, “We are grateful that kosher slaughter of animals, which has been continuously practiced by Jews for thousands of years and which is – contrary to the views of some activists – not a cruel practice, is now unlikely to be prohibited in the Netherlands. This is a victory of reason and religious freedom over political zeal.”