Stunning religious practice in Europe

December 28, 2020

If the European Union wants to welcome Jews and Muslims, it needs to make their legitimate religious practices welcome as well.
Last week, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), the EU’s highest court, dealt a serious blow to ritual Jewish and Muslim methods of animal slaughter. The court upheld a Belgian law that requires that animals must be stunned before they are killed. Neither Jewish nor Muslim law allows for stunning in the slaughter process.
Proponents of the CJEU ruling and supporters of the Belgian law assert that the stun-first approach is more humane. Critics argue that properly executed slaughter is less painful and less traumatic for the animals. Either way, the ruling is a serious setback for religious freedom in Europe. And it isn’t clear whether the ruling would also prohibit the importation of slaughtered meat that has not observed the stun-first requirement.
Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, urged reconsideration. “Europe needs to reflect on the type of continent it wants to be. If values like freedom of religion and true diversity are integral, then the current system of law does not reflect that and needs to be urgently reviewed,” he said.
According to the CJEU, its ruling actually protects religious practices and doesn’t prohibit any religious observance. It argued that the ruling permitted religious practices since it “allow[s] a fair balance to be struck between the importance attached to animal welfare and the freedom of Jewish and Muslim believers to manifest their religion.”
That superficial analysis by the CJEU is remarkably naive and misinformed, since it improperly assumes that religious slaughter can be performed on a stunned animal. It cannot. And, besides, Jews and Muslims don’t want to “manifest” their religion — they want the freedom to practice their religions.
Two distinct elements in European society are promoting the ban on ritual slaughter. Opponents on the left are concerned about animal welfare, and see ritual slaughter as inhumane. Opponents on the far right are ultranationalists, who see Jewish and Muslim practices as alien imports to Christian Europe. Strange bedfellows, indeed. But through their issue alliance, opposition to ritual slaughter has taken on a life of its own, without regard to the sensibilities of Jews and Muslims.
According to Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the head of the Brussels-based European Jewish Association, had Belgium’s parliament “engaged properly with Jewish community officials before banning the practice, some satisfactory solutions could have been found, as has been the case in the Netherlands and elsewhere, because the method of slaughter is not crueler or [more] painful to animals than other methods.” But no such effort was made.
Not every Jew in Europe eats kosher meat. But the availability of kosher food is one of the markers of a thriving Jewish life. In a pluralistic society, every effort must be made to enable such religious observances. If the European Union wants to welcome Jews and Muslims, it needs to make their legitimate religious practices welcome as well.
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The Prime Minister rightly points out that we put Jerusalem at the heart of our upcoming conference. It is the capital and the beating heart of the Jewish people and a city that is dedicated to safeguarding freedom of religion for all.

We thank the Prime Minister for his warm words of encouragement and support for our work, and look forward to many more years of activities that, as he points out, “contributes greatly to the welfare and continuity of the Jewish people.”

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“You All Say ‘Never Again’, Make It So”, Urges Rabbi Menachem Margolin

AHEAD OF MUNICH AUCTION TOMORROW, EUROPEAN JEWISH CHIEF CALLS ON GERMAN POLITICAL LEADERS TO BAN SALE OF NAZI MEMORABILIA
AND PUT BUYERS ON WATCH LIST
“You all say ‘Never Again’, make it so”, urges Rabbi Menachem Margolin .
At 10am today morning (CET) a major Munich based auction house Hermann Historica is conducting an online sale of personal items such as cutlery sets, jewellery and signed letters and photographs belonging to the leadership of the Nazi Party – Himmler, Goring and Hitler himself among them.
European Jewish Association (EJA) Chairman Rabbi Menachem has written to the leadership of all of Germany’s mainstream political parties to put in place legislation that will ban the public sale of such items and - in the meantime - compel sellers to divulge the names of buyers so that they can be kept on government watch lists in the interests of public safety.
In his letter to all the political leaders, the EJA Chief suggested that the authorities would want to know who was buying the personal items of Osama Bin Laden, Anders Breivik or Stephan Ernst for public safety reasons, and those glorifying, sentimentalising or adulating the Nazis are every bit as dangerous.
Rabbi Margolin wrote,
“Almost every week we at the European Jewish Association are having to respond to attacks on community buildings and more worryingly still, physical or verbal attacks on Jews themselves. Alarmingly, it is Germany that leads Europe in the sheer volume of reported anti-Semitic incidents.
“Selling such items should be no different to selling the personal items belonging to Osama Bin Laden, or Anders Breivik. The argument of historical interest is pure semantics. As political representatives concerned with the wellbeing and safety of your citizens, we cannot help wonder if you would not want to know who was buying Bin Laden’s fruit bowl or Stephan Ernst’s photographs and why they would even want them.
“In waiting for a ban to be put in place, we urge the German authorities to compel auction houses to divulge the names of those who are buying such material, in order to know whose hands they have fallen into. The names should then be put on a government ‘watch’ list, for public safety.
“Six Million Jewish lives were lost during the Nazi regime. Today an increasing number of Jewish lives are being lost and more are threatened because of the “oldest hatred”.
“Politicians are wont to say ‘never again’. We urge you to make it so.”

Cyprus police bills Jewish congregation €5000 for Chanukah protection

European rabbis say the move is a 'new low'
A Jewish community in Cyprus reacted with surprise after they were billed more than €5,000 for the police protection provided at their Chanukah celebrations.
An estimated 500 people took part in the December 5 event in Larnaca, but the community later received a bill for €5,386.10 (£4,838.25), which the European Jewish Association called a “new low”.
In a letter to Cypriot Defence Minister Savvas Angelides, EJA chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin said: “I am well used to dealing and responding to challenging situations.
“But this decision to charge the Jewish population for their own security marks a new low, and one that I sincerely hope was a clerical mistake or administrative oversight on behalf of the police.”
Rabbi Margolin said the bill should be written off immediately.
The Jewish community must assured “immediately” that they would not be charged for security and protection in the future, he wrote.
His letter added: “there were many Chanukah events all over Europe in which the local police offered protected — as they do at any public event — and this is the first time we hear that the police asking to be paid for doing their job.”
The JC contacted the Cyprus High Commission in London for comment.
Minister angelides letter

 
POLICE SECURITY INVOICE[2]

 

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