Animal lobby v the Jews: shechitah 'test case'

By Dan Goldberg, November 18, 2010

The "test case" against New Zealand's ban on the kosher slaughter of animals will be heard in the High Court in Wellington later this month.

New Zealand Jewish Council president Stephen Goodman told the JC on Wednesday that the case, which was not expected to be heard until next year, will be closely watched around the Jewish world when it opens on November 29.

"We believe that this is, or will be interpreted as, a worldwide test case," he said. "The animal rights lobby will be applying pressure on governments around the world. We have heard rumours of the issue being raised in France, Ireland and even Australia.

"The threat to shechitah is a threat to Jewish continuity in New Zealand.
It is unintentional antisemitism."

Mr Goodman issued a plea to Jewish communities to help cover the cost, which he estimated at $NZ160,000 (£77,000). Less than half has been raised, he said.

In May, Agriculture Minister David Carter rejected a recommendation that shechitah be exempt from the new animal welfare code, which mandates that all commercially slaughtered animals must first be stunned, thus rendering shechitah illegal. The community filed legal action in August after negotiations with Carter broke down.

"We have a very good case and a high probability of winning," Mr Goodman said.

Last month, Kiwi Jewish leaders issued an email, warning of the consequences of failure.

"We need the support of every Jew in New Zealand," they wrote.

The trial pits the Jewish community against the Conservative government of John Key, whose mother, Ruth Lazar, was a Jewish refugee who escaped Austria on the eve of the Holocaust.

Last updated: 3:41pm, November 18 2010