In Banning Kosher Slaughter, European Countries Not Only Trample Religious Freedom, but Also Make a Mockery of the Humane Treatment of Animals

Jan. 11 2021

Last month the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) upheld a Belgian law effectively proscribing kosher and halal slaughter, which had been challenged on religious-liberty grounds. Rafi Eis explains what differentiates the Jewish conception of the moral treatment of animals from that underlying the Belgian law—and similar regulations in other European countries. He takes as his point of departure the prohibition against partaking of a limb torn from a living animal, which, according to rabbinic tradition, God gave to Noah when first permitting him and his descendants to eat meat:

Were God merely concerned with animal pain, the Bible would have just prohibited the ripping off of animal limbs while the animal was alive. Instead, the Bible also prohibits consuming these limbs, even if they get amputated by accident. This prohibition is not about animal pain; rather, it forces man to reckon with the value of animal life. Once humans are allowed to eat meat, they must also have additional training to respect the life of the animal. The act of snuffing out animal life can lead to human cruelty, and this must be prevented.

Kosher slaughter similarly has a dual requirement. Not only must the animal be slaughtered in precise fashion; if it is killed in any other way, it may not be eaten. Jewish law, in fact, requires the butcher to see the loss of life. This enables the slaughterer to appreciate fully what he is doing. He is taking a life. If he ignores the act that, he will first become indifferent to the death that he causes and eventually cruel. Stunning the animal before killing it, [as the Belgian law requires and kashrut forbids], allows the butcher to disregard the weightiness of his act.

[Animals’] purpose is not to be human food, but rather to “be fertile and increase on earth” (Genesis 9:17). . . Man may kill animals to support human life, like for food, shelter, and therapeutic medical experimentation. This permission, however, can never lead to cruelty. The animal must be slaughtered with care and compassion, while the slaughterer is fully aware of the seriousness of the act that he is performing.

For this reason, Jewish law prohibits hunting for sport, which degrades and harms animals. That the CJEU prohibits sh’ḥitah, but has little problem with hunting for sport, highlights its moral hypocrisy. The EU is concerned with minimizing pain, but in the process allows the human character to become indifferent to the loss of animal life.

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Read more at First Things

More about: Animals, European Union, Judaism, Kashrut

 

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter