Greek Court Bans Kosher and Halal Slaughter

October 28, 2021

The Hellenic Council of State banned kosher and halal slaughter on Tuesday. Kosher and halal preparations of animals are central to Jewish and Muslim religious practices.
Both practices require animals to be killed without being anesthetized. The Panhellenic Animal Welfare and Environmental Federation requested that the court annul an exemption in a law that allowed religious slaughtering practices to take place without anesthetic.
The courts ruled that the religious preparation of animal products did not outweigh those animals’ welfare, and decided that the exemption was a violation of the law’s requirement to slaughter animals with anesthesia. The court has left it up to the government to regulate the relationship between animal rights and religious freedom, and they will preside over the country’s slaughterhouse practices.
Many Jewish people are speaking out against the court’s decision, calling it an infringement on their religious freedom. European Jewish Association (EJA) chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin said that “Jewish freedom of religion is under direct attack across Europe from the very institutions that have vowed to protect our communities.”

Jewish groups outraged over Greek court’s decision

The EJA believes that the court’s decision is following a precedent set last December by the Court of Justice of the European Union, which gave EU nations the ability to ban kosher slaughter in support of animal welfare while also allowing for religious freedom for affected religious groups.
The decision allows members of the EU to make their own decisions about how to follow animal welfare guidelines while allowing people to practice their religions. But the EJA believes that “it is now clear” that member states are leaning heavily in favor of animal welfare and neglecting religious groups.

“As early as last December we warned about the dangerous consequences of the European Court of Justice ruling, and now we are seeing the result,” Margolin said. “It started in Belgium, moved to Poland and Cyprus and it is now Greece’s turn. These direct attacks come from many of those governments and institutions that have vowed to defend their Jewish communities.”

“What we are witnessing is first-rate hypocrisy,” he said. “When it comes to antisemitism, governments and institutions rightly stand behind us. But when our beliefs and customs are attacked right and left by laws, they are nowhere to be seen.”

Margolin said that the EJA plans to air their grievances at the highest level of the Greek government, hoping to get engagement and dialogue about how they can practice their religion comfortably in Greece. The EJA leader considers the issue of high importance, as food preparation and slaughter practices are central parts of both Jewish and Muslim religions.
“How can Jews live in Europe if you continue to legislate against us?” said Margolin.

Greek Court Bans Kosher and Halal Slaughter

Additional Articles

It’s sad that Holocaust denial needs to be criminalized.

Chief Rabbi Jacobs:
Last Thursday was a special day. I was in Leeuwarden, a city in the north of The Netherlands, for the unveiling of a monument with 544 names of Jews who were murdered, 80% of what used to be a flourishing Jewish Community. It was not only an impressive ceremony, but a full day filling program. First a reception in the former Jewish School, then a tour of the former Jewish quarter where in front of the various houses and shops large photos of the former Jewish residents were placed: all murdered! And then: the unveiling wasn’t supposed to start till 4pm and it was only 2pm? After the tour of the Jewish neighbourhood, we were directed to a nearby hall. Just before the occupation, in 1939, the wedding reception of Barend Boers and Mimi Dwinger, had taken place in this hall. More than a hundred guests were present. And in that same hall, we set now, awaiting the unveiling of the monument. And then, quite unexpectedly, it started. We were in the middle of a play. The chuppah took place around us, we were the guests, and the lives of the bride and groom were acted. But it was not all festive. The Nazis occupied The Netherlands. Jews were arrested. The young couple decided to escape. Their flight from the Netherlands, their trek across the Pyrenees, we saw it all happen. The various people whose houses we had just passed by, performed and talked about their lives and their deaths in Sobibor, Auschwitz or elsewhere. I actually would have preferred not to experience this performance because it hit me hard. It was a tough confrontation.
And then, after the confrontational play, we left the hall in silence and walked to the unveiling of the monument. And there, at that ceremony, 6 students pretended to be former residents of the Jewish Community of Leeuwarden: my name is x and in 1943 I was murdered in Sobibor. The mayor of Leeuwarden talked about his Jewish grandmother and the secret surrounding her Jewishness. When the mayor’s aunt passed away, of natural causes, not so long ago, a briefcase was found and her Jewishness, her carefully hidden identity, was revealed. Because my ancestors originated from Leeuwarden, I had this personal feeling: how nice that my ancestors finally, after more then 75 years, got a gravestone, a matsewa! But a gravestone without a grave. A memorial prayer was recited followed by an intensive silence.
How could a large Jewish Congregation be massacred, gassed, exterminated? It was not just the fault of the small percentage of collaborators. The problem lay with the large silent mob that showed herd behaviour and chose the path that yielded them the most at the time: Fl.7.50 money per head for every betrayed Jew. And in better times even Fl. 40 pp!
Because of that herd mentality, which drove society in the completely wrong direction during the occupation, there was something like a collective guilt among the average Dutchman after the war. A few months ago, when 18 Orthodox Jewish girls were expelled from a KLM flight, I spoke to a former Minister and told him that thanks to my network I was able to arrange for them not to have to stay at Amsterdam Airport on Shabbat. And, I went on, whether it was right or wrong for the girls to be kicked off the plane, I don’t know, because they might have misbehaved themselves. But I was corrected fairly brutally by the former statesman with the words: As a Dutch society we must always stand up for the Jew, because during the Holocaust we, the Dutch, failed miserably. I fully agree with that failure, but to go so far that it is no longer allowed to check whether straight is crooked and crooked straight is a bit too far for me.
I agree that it is justified that also in the Netherlands it is being considered nowadays to criminalize denial of the Holocaust. But the fact that this needs consideration, is sad, because apparently it is no longer felt how radically, inhumane and criminally the Nazi regime acted, supported by the majority of the Dutch population. Result: 544 names of murdered Jews. The monument is impressive, but the history unacceptable.

COVID Diary- Reflections from Our Advisory Board Member Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs

Every Day during the Corona crisis our Advisory Board Member Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs (NL) writes a diary, on request of the Jewish Cultural Quarter in Amsterdam, which is published on the website of the NIW, the only Jewish Dutch Magazine. Rabbi Jacobs is the head of Inter Governmental Relationships at the Rabbinical Centre of Europe. We will be regularly publishing a selection of his informative, sometimes light hearted, but always wise pieces.
For our Dutch readers you can follow the diary every day at NIW home page: https://niw.nl
Every day in my e-mail box I receive statements of support like this: “I would like to wish you a lot of strength and wisdom because of the hatred for Jews that is raging throughout Europe. It all started in the 3rd century when the Church Fathers changed the policy by excluding the Jews. Lies they made up back then are still going around. My heart weeps, and I pray for you and all the Jews, that the Lord will protect you all. ”
Today should have been an ordinary day. From 9:00 am – 11:00 am I had my annual guest lecture at a Theological University, then a visit to a seriously ill woman in hospital, then home to answer emails, followed by an online meeting about kosher slaughter with a European Commissioner, a pastoral meeting at my house, ticket booking for grandson’s bar mitzvah in the US and then some chores to finish the day. I would end it with a brisk walk with a good friend and then, as a kind of ritual closing of the day writing my diary. But it went differently than planned. I usually have good control over myself emotionally. But today I didn’t. It started with the emailed statement of support that hit home hard the reality of rampant anti-Semitism, with the result that when I was asked about the situation in Israel during my guest lecture, I expressed myself too emotionally: After I delivered it, I received the following message from an Assistant Professor: “Thank you for your impressive lecture. But we were shocked by your remark that if you weren’t Chief Rabbi, you probably would already have moved to Israel. The image you painted of a captain prevented from leaving a sinking ship was as shocking as it was telling in that regard. Thank you for the open, personal and vulnerable tone of the conversation, which also touched me personally. Strength and wisdom in championing the importance of a safe place for the Jewish people in our country,” I don’t know if I should have expressed myself in that way, because in the end I have no intention of allowing myself to be expelled from my native country, which I have been a part of for at least ten generations. But the recent hatred was so visceral, so all pervading, that it exhausted my usual high levels of enthusiasm.
The European Union Commissionner was friendly and politically correct. She will stand up for kosher slaughter, but I did not get the impression that the antisemitism, which forms the basis of the attempted ban by Poland, was felt by her. This did not add to my mood I must say. And so again, in my view, I made a mistake and mentioned that in my daughter’s street in London loudspeakers were heard calling on the rape of Jewish women and girls as part of protests. It is a pity that one even needs to mention and underline the obvious to make the point. But let us go back to animal welfare for a moment on which kosher slaughter is under scrutiny. If there is one religion that attaches great importance to animal welfare it is my own. Why not tackle the real and demonstrable animal suffering: the transporting across hundreds or thousands of kilometres of animals? In any case, why on earth are we discussing animal welfare while antisemitic slogans are being shouted at across Europe during anti-Israel demonstrations? Is this a priority while the vile spectre of jew-hatred is rising again? It feels to me like the politicians are fiddling while Rome burns!
As if to compound this impending sense of Jews being cast adrift, the Prime Minister here in Holland and 5 of his ministers had a falling out about Israel. The five believe they should ask forgiveness from the Palestinians for allowing Jews to move to Israel after the Holocaust. So yes, my sanity tells me that moving to Israel would be wise. But a captain is never the first to leave asinking ship. And my heart belongs in Holland. I am certain that there are an increasing numbers of Jews from all over Europe who are actively weighing up their options. That their hearts belong in Europe, but common sense in the face of repeated attacks on them pulls them towards Israel. The fact that we even have to weigh up such a choice is indicative of a deep malaise in society and politics here, where Jews are having to defend things that shouldn’t even need defending – our very freedom of religion – whilst the elephant in the room – increasing antisemitism and particularly its new variant antizionism, run amok. I go to bed and am grateful for the many expressions of support and hope for better times and a better frame of mind for myself. I hope.

Red Lines Follow-Up: Meeting with Iceland’s Ambassador to the EU

Eja chairman Rabbi Margolin met this morning with Iceland’s new ambassador to the EU, Benelux countries and San Marino, HIs Excellency Mr Gunnar Palsson. In a friendly get to know you discussion, His Excellency offered to report back to his government on our Jewish Red Lines, and expressed his support and desire for greater co-operation and ties between the Icelandic Government and the small but significant Icelandic Jewish Community. The EJA very much looks forward to continuing this dialogue and co-operation with His Excellency. 

Opinion Piece by Rabbi Margolin: The Palestinians’ all or nothing approach will get them nothing

There is a thin line between aspiration and delusion.
All of us seek to encourage aspiration, but we also regard it as a duty to tell others that they are being deluded. And yet nobody in the international community is willing to have this conversation with the Palestinian Leadership. What is this delusion? It is the “all or nothing” Palestinian demands for peace.

Israelis want peace. But there is zero chance of successful negotiations with a bar set too high for Israel to accept. The bar is a return to pre- 67 borders and the ‘right of return’.
It is time to be blunt. Nobody knows better than Israel what its security needs are. Israel has made it clear that 67 borders are not defendable and would pose an existential threat to the country and its citizens. In short, it’s not going to happen.
Israel may be a young state but it has a long memory. Those who ask it to compromise its borders and security are many of the same voices who left her on her own during wars when her needs were greatest. It will not compromise security for promises and words.
On the ‘right to return’ the bluntness must continue. The Palestinians are not only demanding a smaller Israeli State, and a Palestinian state free of Jews, but for the absorption of millions of Palestinians into Israel.
In short, Israel would simply cease to be a Jewish State – the world’s only one. It’s not going to happen.
Let’s keep it even more simple: A future Palestinian State can have the luxury of malleable borders, Israel cannot.
This is the reality. The Palestinians demands are not credible or achievable. And yet the international community continues to pay lip-service to their delusion.
This is a dereliction of duty. We need to rip up the current playbook that the international community is sticking to. It is a playbook that has not advanced the prospects of peace by a single millimetre. It enables Palestinian stasis. It removes any motivation for them to move forwards. It keeps them in their comfort zone of perpetual grievance.
The Trump plan on the other hand represents the first real attempt by any negotiators to understand and put Israeli security as the starting position and build from there. Previous attempts have always made this an afterthought.
The plan also offers Palestinians a real pathway to statehood, underpinned with a 50 billion investment in infrastructure and state-building – around a third, in today’s money – of the entire Marshall plan budget that was given to 16 countries.
The Palestinians rejected it.
Why? The official line is because of annexation, and because they lost trust in Trump.
Let’s take annexation first. In the past, and most recently in Gaza, but also including the return of Sinai and other territory, Israel has shown its willingness to trade land for Peace as long as it can safeguard its security. And there is no reason to believe that this would not be the case again. Annexation does not represent a final settling of borders. It can represent an opportunity for Palestinians to get back round the table, even if they are historically averse to doing so.
Which brings us to the issue of trust. The Peace process to date is a litany of failure to budge on the Palestinian side, even after significant and often painful moves by Israel, such as the withdrawal from territories that we just touched upon.
Their reaction to this plan is more of the same. The refusal to Trump is the same refusal given to Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Obama. The same refusal of 48, 67, 73, in the 80’s, 90’s, and OO’s. The terms of reference only change.
Which takes us back to where we started. Aspiration and delusion. A Palestinian state in an aspiration. 67 lines and the right to return is delusion. Annexation is not a final settling of borders, but can be part of negotiations.
It is time to get serious. To get real. To disavow delusion and face reality.
If we fail to do this, we will never get the Palestinians back around the negotiating table, allowing them to perpetuate ad-infinitum the suffering of the people that they represent.
And It’s time for the international community to finally choose between the two and get things moving again.
The article was published in The Times of Israel

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