Polish Government Doubt Over Coalition, Shechitah, Future

YERUSHALAYIM -

Poland’s ruling right-wing coalition looked to be hanging by a thread on Monday, as a government spokesman said he could imagine the largest party in the grouping, Law and Justice (PiS), governing without one of its current partners.

PiS leaders held an emergency meeting on Monday about the future of the United Right coalition that has ruled Poland since 2015, after simmering tensions spilled into open conflict when the junior members refused to support an animal-rights bill.

Poland’s agriculture minister, Jan Krzysztof Ardanowski, told POLITICO Europe on Tuesday that he is “packed and ready to leave” his job, after he rebelled and voted against his party’s animal-rights protection bill, which bans fur farming and ritual slaughter

After the meeting PiS spokeswoman Anita Czerwinska tweeted that decisions had been taken and the party would announce the details in due course.

The ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) Party wants to curb slaughter without stunning in a package of bills aimed at improving animal welfare and, according to critics, widening the party’s appeal for a 2023 election.

Hamodia spoke to Rabbi Nuchem Berger, Rav of Badatz Kehilot, head of the team of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate and Rav of the London Board of Shechita, Mehadrin.

“Poland currently has five operational abattoirs for shechitah, and many more than that for Halal ritual slaughter. These are operated in full capacity approximately 10 months a year, five days a week. Around 1700 cattle are processed daily for top kashrus organizations, among them Israel’s Eidah Hachareidis and Kehilot, with 10% of the cattle sold in the EU.

“South America, the other large shechitah center is an option, but these hechsherim will not use the facilities located there, due to the process of puncturing the stomach of the animal.”

Rabbi Berger added that the location his hechsher uses in Poland adheres to the highest halachic standards in the world, and that there would be no simple replacement if the ban goes through.

“Its being touted as an animal-rights issue, but there is certainly antisemitism involved. There are various proofs to support this. The youth vote is not with the PiS, and they hope to raise their popularity by pushing animal rights.

“Poland’s economy would be dealt a serious blow if shechitah were to cease, because Poland’s main industry is agriculture … the shechitah industry supports a great part of the economy, providing employment for hundreds of thousands.

“The unique geographical position of Poland, in the center of Europe makes it convenient, and labor costs are lower than in either Romania or the Ukriane. The cattle are also good quality, and have improved drastically over the last 10 years. Other locations would be much more expensive and restrictive than Poland.

“Added to that, Romania and Hungary are currently not authorized for export to Israel. One cannot ignore the millions that have been invested in this shechitah infrastructure that would go to waste should the ban become law.

The caveat that ritual shechitah would still be legal for the domestic market under the proposals is there to dilute the message of antisemitism that surely lies behind this ban.”