Belgium Bans Kosher Slaughter

On the first day of this year, an effective ban on kosher and halal slaughter of animals went into effect in the Belgium’s Dutch-speaking Flanders region; a similar law will take effect in French-speaking Wallonia in September. The law affects not only Belgian Jews but also Jews in countries like Sweden who import their meat from Belgium. The editors of the Jerusalem Post write:

This law, like many others proposed and passed in Europe, was [supposedly written to guarantee the] humane treatment of animals, but a generous dose of anti-Muslim sentiment helped steward it into the law books. The government in Belgium recently fell apart as a result of a dispute over its refugee policy, so issues related to minorities are a hot topic in Brussels and Antwerp. As often happens when xenophobia spreads on the Continent, even when it’s not originally meant to target Jews, they suffer the consequences. . . .

There is a long tradition of European anti-Semites using animal rights to ban kosher slaughter. In Switzerland, which uses a system of referendums to decide on individual policies, the first such [referendum] was on banning sh’ḥitah, which was prohibited [throughout the country] in 1893. Norway banned slaughter without stunning in 1929, [effectively banning kosher slaughter, since halakhah forbids stunning], and Sweden followed in 1937. And, of course, Nazi Germany instituted such a ban, which spread to its Axis allies Italy and Hungary; all three [bans] were overturned. . . .

[Belgian legislators] claim to be taking a moral stand, when in fact, they’ve done the exact opposite—the immoral and undemocratic act of violating their citizens’ basic freedom of conscience.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, European Islam, European Jewry, Freedom of Religion, Kashrut, Religion & Holidays

By Recognizing Israeli Sovereignty over the Golan, the U.S. Has Freed Israel from “Land for Peace”

March 25 2019

In the 52 years since Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria, there have been multiple efforts to negotiate their return in exchange for Damascus ending its continuous war against the Jewish state. Shmuel Rosner argues that, with his announcement on Thursday acknowledging the legitimacy of Jerusalem’s claim to the Golan, Donald Trump has finally decoupled territorial concessions from peacemaking:

[With] the takeover of much of Syria by Iran and its proxies, . . . Israel had no choice but to give up on the idea of withdrawing from the Golan Heights. But this reality involves a complete overhaul of the way the international community thinks not just about the Golan Heights but also about all of the lands Israel occupied in 1967. . . .

Withdrawal worked for Israel once, in 1979, when it signed a peace agreement with Egypt and left the Sinai Peninsula, which had also been occupied in 1967. But that also set a problematic precedent. President Anwar Sadat of Egypt insisted that Israel hand back the entire peninsula to the last inch. Israel decided that the reward was worth the price, as a major Arab country agreed to break with other Arab states and accept Israel’s legitimacy.

But there was a hidden, unanticipated cost: Israel’s adversaries, in future negotiations, would demand the same kind of compensation. The 1967 line—what Israel controlled before the war—became the starting point for all Arab countries, including Syria. It became a sacred formula, worshiped by the international community.

What President Trump is doing extends far beyond the ability of Israel to control the Golan Heights, to settle it, and to invest in it. The American president is setting the clock back to before the peace deal with Egypt, to a time when Israel could argue that the reward for peace is peace—not land. Syria, of course, is unlikely to accept this. At least not in the short term. But maybe someday, a Syrian leader will come along who doesn’t entertain the thought that Israel might agree to return to the pre-1967 line and who will accept a different formula for achieving peace.

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More about: Donald Trump, Golan Heights, Israel & Zionis, Peace Process, Sinai Peninsula, Syria