Netanyahu Asks European Leaders to Block Shechitah Ban

YERUSHALAYIM -
A shochet checks his knife in a kosher slaughterhouse in Csengele, Hungary, Jan. 15. (AP Photo/Laszlo Balogh)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has written to a number of European leaders, asking that they allow shechitah to continue in their countries.

Netanyahu reached out after Diaspora Affairs Minister Omer Yankelevich asked for his help following an EU court ruling that upheld a Belgian ban on kosher slaughter.

The letter went out to the leaders of Poland, Finland, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, France, the office of the EU presidency and the president of the European Council. Some of the countries on this list have already begun passing laws to ban shechitah on the grounds that it comprises cruelty to animals.

Netanyahu expressed his concern at the EU court’s ruling and told the European leaders that it restricts freedom of religion.

“This decision threatens Jews’ freedom of religion across Europe. Jewish leaders in Europe and heads of Jewish institutions have expressed shock at this ruling and its harmful ramifications for the continuance of Jewish life in the European Union,” he wrote.

Chairman of the Jewish Agency Yitzchak Herzog also sent a message to European leaders in which he explained that he wanted to “call their attention” to the sense of discomfort and rejection that was “spreading among a number of Jewish communities that feel that Jewish tradition and the fulfillment of the commandments are being challenged by certain parts of the European public and its lawmakers.

“We are talking about a pillar of the Jewish religious commandments, and there is no room for compromise,” Herzog wrote.