Photo Credit: Miriam Alster / Flash 90
Labor party Diaspora Minister Nachman Shai.

Israeli Minister of Diaspora Affairs Nachman Shai dispatched a missive to Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croix warning that a court ruling upholding a ban on kosher slaughter in the country is “an alarming precedent” that “deeply harms religious freedom in Europe.”

In his letter sent Tuesday, Shai noted that “the Belgian court’s decision to uphold the ban on kosher slaughter deeply undermines the values ​​of freedom of religion, equality and liberty advocated by the European Union.”

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“The Government of Israel supports the right of Jews to lead a Jewish way of life freely and with full equality of rights, wherever they choose to live in the world,” he noted.

He offered to work together with the Belgian government and Jewish organizations in Europe to find a solution for the benefit of the Jewish community in Belgium, and European Jewry in general.

Several regions in Belgium have implemented a law banning the slaughter of animals without first stunning them. Animal rights activists maintain that this is a more humane method of slaughter, but it contravenes the Jewish laws of kashrut.

In December 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union upheld the ban on kosher slaughter in Belgium.

Some 42,000 Jews live in Belgium, about 0.4% of the total population.

Some European countries have passed laws demanding the stunning of animals before they are slaughtered, but made exceptions in cases of religious slaughter. In other countries, Jews import their kosher meat.

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.