Israel's foie gras ban would spark anti-shechita backlash, says rabbi

The head of the Paris Rabbinical Court has called on Israel to reject a proposed bill to ban the importation and trading of foie gras, claiming that such a move could lead to European countries outlawing shechita in retaliation.

In a letter to Minister of Agriculture Yair Shamir, Rabbi Yirmiyahu Menachem Cohen warned that “the ears of many European nations are very responsive to ‘the greens’ whose main concern is to stop Jewish slaughter. The proposers of this law are definitely providing our enemies with a double-edged sword.”

Mr Shamir and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch have reacted to pressure from Rabbi Cohen and others by stating they will only support the bill if the prohibition on importing foie gras is dropped. In their suggested amendment, the bill would ban only the trading of the delicacy. In a joint statement, the ministers said that this alteration will avoid “economic damage to Israeli exports and imposed sanctions following the violation of international trade agreements.”

Serge Cwagenbaum, Secretary-General of the European Jewish Congress, backed Rabbi Cohen’s view, admitting that the bill “could be used by our enemies fighting to ban shechita”.

The Secretary-General emphasised the serious nature of any backlash to an Israeli ban from European countries, saying “If it [shechita] was banned, this would be a catastrophe. There is no way Jews could live in a country where they have no religious rights; it’s one of our basic rights.”

In contrast, Yossi Wolfson of animal rights organisation Let the Animals Live has called Rabbi Cohen’s letter “absurd”, claiming: “By that logic we should just repeal the Animal Welfare Law, lest the gentiles use the fact that we favour animal welfare to ban kosher slaughter.”

The bill is currently under discussion in the Knesset.

Last updated: 4:14pm, June 17 2013