Forces of darkness

It is tempting to think that the Dutch shechitah ban is, as Lord Sacks put it, "a dark day in Dutch history" but of no real concern to us. We are, after all, a very different society from the Netherlands. But that would be a grave mistake. Because the opponents of shechitah have the wind beneath their sails and for them the Dutch ban is simply another victory. For one thing, the EU labelling directive - an indirect but no less real attack on shechitah - remains a live issue.

But be in no doubt what happened in the Netherlands. Since the vote on Tuesday there have been many comparisons with the Nazis; no wonder, because those driving the ban on shechita were driven not by their sophistic claims of concern for animals but by a familiar bigoted and historic hatred of Judaism. The extreme left and the extreme right were able to join forces in common cause: to launch an attack specifically targeted at the Jews. The Dutch were especially proficient at deporting Jews during the war. Holland's contemporary forces of darkness have now struck. But we must not be complacent about our own shechitah laws. If it can happen in Holland, it can happen here.

Last updated: 8:40am, July 1 2011