A Future Israeli Chief Rabbi’s Vigorous Defense of Kosher Slaughter before the Irish Parliament

Last year, an EU court upheld a Belgian law banning the kosher and halal slaughter of animals. Such regulations, note Baruch Sterman and Judy Taubes Sterman, have a long history in Europe, going back to a Swiss ban from 1893 that remains in effect. In 1934, the Irish senate considered forbidding sh’itah—as the practice is known in Hebrew—leading the country’s chief rabbi, Isaac Halevy Herzog, to address the body and urge it to reconsider. A sympathizer with Irish nationalism, a friend of the Sinn Féin leader Éamon de Valera, and a participant in the drafting of the Irish constitution, Herzog was also a renowned halakhist who would go on to be Israel’s first chief rabbi. The Stermans describe Herzog’s case:

Herzog’s presentation [was] a masterful display of [his] unique capacity, evident throughout his career, to combine various disciplines, secular and Jewish, scientific, political, and philosophic, to make his case. . . . According to Herzog, the clear purpose of [kosher slaughter’s] detailed precepts is to prevent, or reduce significantly, any possible suffering or pain for the animal. “The charges of inhumaneness leveled against sh’ḥitah are either due to the lack of knowledge of physiology, to imperfect information, or to blind anti-Semitic prejudice,” he declared.

As support for this assertion, he submitted into evidence the opinions of no fewer than 457 “continental scientists and veterinary surgeons, mostly Gentile Christians.”

His . . . remarks highlighted a position Herzog would passionately champion again and again throughout his life. Not only did he maintain that Jewish law is inherently just and moral, but Herzog’s unwavering conviction that the Torah and its laws were given by a benevolent and compassionate God meant that, comparatively, it is indeed the most righteous and the most ethical of any legal system that has ever existed from ancient times to the present.

The Stermans quote Herzog’s “chilling” and “prescient” closing:

Lastly may I say how painful it is to the Jew to see and hear his religion charged with cruelty to animals. To those anti-sh’ḥitah humanists, whoever they may be, who charge Judaism with cruelty to dumb creatures, but who are themselves so ominously dumb in the face of the suffering, the cruelty and the agony inflicted upon Jews in Christian lands, I would say that centuries before the Aryans had any idea of humaneness towards human beings, let alone animals, . . . Israel’s Divine law commanded us to help the animal that has fallen down to rise up.

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Read more at Commentary

More about: Animals, Ireland, Israeli Chief Rabbinate, Judaism, Kashrut

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy