Pressure from animal rights groups has led two of Belgium’s three regions to consider banning shechita (ritual slaughter) in 2019, in what some Belgian Jewish leaders are calling “the worst crisis since WWII.”
“It is an unprecedented crisis,” Consistorie president Philippe Markiewicz said, adding that he considered it the worst since the Second World War. The Consistorie is the umbrella organization representing Belgian Jewry.
According to French-language daily La Libre, Markiewicz expressed amazement at comments made by Geert Bourgeous, the Flemish government’s minister-president, during a debate on the issue of ritual slaughter.
“When he talked about it, he mentioned reconciliation between the political sphere and immigrants’ path to integration,” Markiewicz said. “The Jews are like the immigrants just arrived in Belgium? But the Consistorie was established almost 210 years ago under Napoleon. Can you really imagine that the Jews are not integrated?”
Israel’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday it is “closely following” an announcement last month by Flemish cabinet minister Ben Weyts regarding the restrictions on kosher slaughter to be imposed in 2019.
On March 30, Weyts, who advocated for a complete ban on kosher slaughter in May 2016, said that “the decision in principle has been taken and everyone should respect it.”
Menachem Margolin, the head of the European Jewish Association lobby group, said the proposal to ban kosher slaughter is not motivated by concern for the welfare of animals.
“Let’s stop pretending that banning kosher slaughter has anything to do with animal welfare,” Margolin said, adding that is “dubious, unsettling and running contrary to [scientific] evidence.”