The head of the European Jewish Congress (EJC) sent a letter to Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Wednesday asking him to block a parliamentary vote scheduled for next week that would ban Shechita in the country.
Below is the letter sent by Dr. Moshe Kantor, to the Prime Minister of Holland and to prominent Dutch politicians, expressing the deepest concern of the Jewish community for proposed legislation that would effectively ban kosher slaughter in Holland. As the letter indicates, this is in direct opposition to Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The letter also indicates that there is a lot of misinformation surrounding kosher slaughter that is being spread ahead of the vote. If this law is passed in its current form then it will deal a very heavy blow to Jewish communal life in Holland and a domino effect threat of similar legislation having an equally disastrous effect in other parts of Europe.
Mr. Mark Rutte
Prime Minister of The Netherlands
On behalf of the European Jewish Congress, the representative body of 42 European Jewish communities, I am writing to you on a matter of increasing urgency. Next week the Dutch parliament will be voting on a new legislation restricting the right to perform religious slaughter, known as Shechita, by pre-stunning of the animals.
If this law is passed it will have a momentous effect on the centuries-old Jewish life in Holland.
The Jewish community in Holland has its roots in those Jews who fled persecution and discrimination to a land which has since become acclaimed for its freedom of religion and expression.
This ban will almost solely affect the Jewish community. 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.
The result will mean in practice an end to Jewish ritual slaughter, in direct opposition to Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, namely the right to freedom of religion.
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. 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.
Importantly, there is no scientific evidence that Shechita, Jewish ritual slaughter, causes any additional unnecessary pain to the animal than stunned slaughter. In fact, a study conducted at Wageningen University proved 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.
I would be glad to send you any additional information on this matter of the utmost concern and importance to the Jewish community.
Please accept your Excellency, the assurances of our highest consideration and esteem.
Dr. Moshe Kantor
European Jewish Congress
(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)