September 14, 2009

The Europeans Target Schechita Again

European Jews seem to be perpetually condemned to a tenuous acceptance of schechita as being a humane form of animal slaughter. Although they recently won a major victory in the European Union Parliament, the legislative body did not preclude further debate in each of the EU’s parliaments. Indeed, animal rights activists who are bent on banning both schechita and halal, have their sights set on taking on kosher slaughter in many parliaments. Although the prognosis for the future of Europe’s Jews appeared bleak only a decade ago, the opposite seems to be true these days with strong emerging kosher communities in Germany, Russia, Belarus, and the Ukraine. Although anti-Semitism has forced many French Jews to emigrate to Israel, the country remains the largest Jewish community in Europe. There are small but thriving kosher markets in the UK, Belgium, Holland, and Austria.
It is remarkable that the continent that is so soaked with Jewish blood should continue to be the biggest obstacle to a timeless custom that has been proven to be one of the most humane forms of animal slaughter. Although animal rights activists still argue that a shot from a stun gun is less painful than a single cut from a sharp knife, most scientific research tends to agree with the ancient rites. The larger question is why this issue resurfaces again and again. Why can’t a religious minority enjoy the peace of mind that one of its most sacred customs should not come under repeated attack? How gratifying it would have been for the European Union Parliament to adopt a unanimous vote that says: Kosher slaughter is humane. Period. End of Story! But then again, this is Europe.