Isaac Herzog tell European leaders moves to ban kosher slaughter and circumcision are an attack on the ‘foundations of Jewish faith.’
By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel
Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog sent a letter to European heads of state imploring them to protest the ban on Kosher slaughter after the European Union’s highest court last month backed a Belgian ban on the practice.
Herzog said the legislation prohibiting Kosher slaughter comes alongside efforts in certain European nations to outlaw circumcision – the religiously mandated practice that is one of the central tenets of Judaism.
“I emphasized to European leaders that forbidding these acts would be tantamount to outlawing Judaism as a whole, casting a shadow of discredit and suspicion on millennia-old traditions, which constitute the very basis of Jewish ritual,” Herzog said.
Herzog knows about Judaism and diplomacy. He is the former leader of Israel’s Labor Party and a member of one of the country’s leading families: his grandfather Rabbi Yitzhak Isaac Halevi Herzog was Israel’s first Chief Rabbi and his father, Chaim Herzog, was an IDF major general who served as Israel’s ambassador to the UN and was the nation’s sixth president.
He said that Jews across Europe are worried about their future and “many Jewish communities today in Europe feel their freedom to lead a life of religious observance according to their ancient traditions is being challenged by certain segments of the European public and its legislators.”
“There is also marked concern that other European nations will follow suit and adopt similar legislation, preventing Jews across Europe to live a Jewish religious life, as they have done on the continent for thousands of years,” Herzog said, noting several countries are trying to ban circumcision.
Kosher food and circumcision “are the basic pillars of Judaism, and there is no room for compromise on living a Jewish life, nor on freedom of religion.”
Herzog said that before making aliyah to Israel, his grandfather succeeded in blocking a similar initiative to ban Kosher slaughter in Ireland.
“I know what it meant to him and to his community, and how they must have felt in those pre-War years in Europe,” he said, adding he was mobilizing Jewish leaders and communities throughout Europe and the world to prevent such laws, “which harm the Jewish people and the religious freedom of minorities.”
The kosher slaughter ban doesn’t just affect Jews. In 2013 protestors in Poland demanded the government there reinstate ritual slaughter of animals for export to Israel and Muslim countries, which is a major source of business for Polish farmers, after the practice was banned the previous year under pressure from animal rights groups.