Second-class citizens in Europe – again

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European High Court, Luxembourg. (File Photo).

We thought there was no way the court would slap a community already struggling under the twin weight of the pandemic and across the board rises in anti-Semitism. Or that they would rule against their own Attorney General.

As the director of public affairs at the European Jewish Association, I had our press release on the European Court ruling on Kosher slaughter in Belgium all ready yesterday morning.

Our media team had it translated into French, Italian and German. I called the press office of the court and had them send me the decision and statement the second it was announced. We were primed and ready.

The problem was I had the wrong press release ready. We were wrong.

We had anticipated that the court would follow the opinion of the Attorney General who, back in September, said that bans on kosher slaughter were an impediment to the fundamental right of freedom of religion, enshrined in the EU’s own charter of fundamental rights.

We thought there was no way the court would slap a community already struggling under the twin weight of the pandemic and massively rising anti-Semitism. Or that they would go against their own attorney general.

We were wrong.

The European Court of Justice can dress this up in all the legalese language it wants. A clear decision was made this week: Jewish rights, Jewish practice, Jewish belief now enjoy second class European status; lower than than animal rights, lower than hunting.

I can assure you it pains me to write these words. I can also tell you that I am in no way sensationalizing the issue. This is what the court decided. Of course, they won’t say it in my words, but as a Jew, I can assure you: that’s what it tells me.

As a people of faith, our traditions are not archaic remnants, but a living, breathing manifestation of our beliefs. Some of us may not choose to live by all the rules, but they are our rules. They make us who we are as a people. They have sustained us, given us our identity for millennia, guaranteed our survival.

This is not a matter of adjusting to the latest “en vogue” trend, or “getting with the times”. It is about how we choose to live as commanded by G-d, and how we have lived generation after generation, for thousands of years.

Yet just like that, with the stroke of a pen, at 9:42 a.m. when the court’s email hit my inbox, this entire glorious, proud and steadfast people were relegated to second class European status.

Second class – behind “first class” men and women on horses chasing foxes and rabbits in order to tear them to pieces with hounds. Lower than people who lead cattle into the mass industrial complexes to their “humane” slaughter by a bolt to the head before the final cut. A class lower than people who keep millions of chicken in cruelly crowded conditions, unable to move, to maximize efficiency and profit. Second class – behind the “first class” elite that, elegantly dressed in expensive restaurants, casually watches lobsters writhe in horrible pain, as they are boiled alive.

In the short space afforded to me here, I won’t go into the bogus science surrounding slaughter, which claims that slaughter without stunning is inherently cruel. I’m not even going to waste my breath on how some speak on the subject with such “authority” while ignoring the sanctity of thought and religion that goes into the kosher slaughter process. How I don’t’ know a single shochet who isn’t gentle, kind, whose first and only thought is making the death of the animal as swift and painless as possible.

Instead, I want to talk about the rank hypocrisy of Europe towards Jews. The well-meaning pats on the back when our synagogues are attacked, our people spat on, intimidated, cursed, chased, beaten, murdered on European streets; and mocked, slandered and threatened on the Internet and elsewhere.

“Europe isn’t Europe without Jews,” the hypocrites say. They commission reports, they publish them. They line up after a synagogue is firebombed. “We love you,” they say, “we are with you.”

Not for a split second does it occur to them how two-faced this is. How morally reprehensible it is for us to be told that we are important and that we matter, whilst
they arrogantly legislate our way of life out of existence in Europe.

The dam was broken today. Yesterday morning the Jew was once again relegated to second class status in Europe. And the leaders said nothing.

(Alex Benjamin – Israel Hayom).

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