The Brussels Regional Parliament denounces the ban on Kosher Shechita by Jean-Claude Van Damme | The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com | David Israel | 20 Sivan 5782 – June 19, 2022
Photo credit: Screenshot from Facebook
The Brussels regional parliament voted on Friday against banning the slaughter of Jewish shechita and halal Muslims. The vote, 42 against 38, followed the recommendation of a parliamentary commission which, on June 9, rejected the ban proposed by the Brussels Minister of Animal Welfare Bernard Clerfayt.
In 1970, after decades of conflict between French-speaking and Flemish Belgians, a new constitution transformed the country into a federal system, with a central parliament and three separate state parliaments: Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels. Regional and community parliaments and governments have jurisdiction over transport, public works, water policy, cultural issues, education, public health, environment, housing, zoning and economic policy and industrial. Legislative powers in Belgium are divided between the national, regional and community levels.
Early last week, Jean-Claude Van Damme, who has lent his fame and influence to the animal rights organization GAIA, announced that he was outraged by the result of the vote in the committee of the Brussels Parliament in favor the slaughter of unstunned animals. In a video broadcast by GAIA, the Hollywood star called on the Brussels parliament to approve a ban on the slaughter of Jews and Muslims on Friday and to “end the cruel suffering of animals”.
Kosher slaughter is illegal in Wallonia and Flanders, and local Jews and Muslims have to pay for imported meat. President of the European Convention of Rabbis, Pinchas Goldschmid, said in a statement: “We fully agree with the decision of the Parliament of Brussels, declaring that Shechita and Halal are legal. The bans on slaughter without stunning enacted in the Belgian regions of Flanders and Wallonia in 2020 banned Shechita and Halal, blatantly trampling on the religious freedoms of Jewish and Muslim communities, hundreds of thousands of Belgian citizens.
Rabbi Goldschmid suggested that “these unsolicited bans have a dark historical precedent; rather than ushering in a future of increased animal welfare, these alarming legislative bans are instead a harsh and destructive step backwards. The law should never be used as an unsolicited weapon against religious communities.
He applauded “the vote of the Brussels Regional Parliament on Friday, declaring that these religious methods of slaughter are not illegal, thus restoring these religious rights in the country. We pay tribute to Chief Rabbi Guigui and Rabbi Bruno Fiszon for their efforts.
GAIA has threatened a “state of emergency for thousands of animals”, and its president, Michel Vandenbosch, has said that scientific evidence of the suffering of unstunned animals, court rulings in Belgium and the EU, and the bans in Wallonia and Flanders provide a “fair balance between religious freedom and animal welfare interests”.
But of course that is not the case. An animal is considered “traif” if it has suffered an injury that would result in its death within a year, in which case it cannot be slaughtered kosher. The electric shock he receives would certainly kill him within a year, and so it doesn’t matter how sharp the knife of kosher slaughter is.
On Thursday, GAIA suggested that “Jean-Claude Van Damme might be able to push the Brussels parliament to take the most ethically sound, progressive and justified decision in the interests of the weaker and more vulnerable, animals”.