Danish envoy defends ban on ritual slaughter

Denmark’s ambassador to Israel rejected as “very insulting” accusations by Israeli officials that the country’s ban on animal slaughter without stunning amounted to anti-Semitism.

Jesper Vahr made his remarks to Ynet Feb. 17 in response to a quote by Israel’s deputy minister of religious services, Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan, following Denmark’s decision to outlaw ritual slaughter, or shechita.

“If this quote by the deputy religious affairs minister is directed at Denmark — and from what I read it appears to be — I not only reject it but also hold it to be very insulting to a country whose citizens during World War II stood up for their Jewish countrymen and helped Jews in Nazi-occupied Denmark escape to Sweden, the result of which was that 99 percent of Jews in Denmark survived World War II,” Vahr said.

He added that the new regulations “will not introduce any change compared to present practices.”

Dahan had said that “European anti-Semitism is showing its true colors across Europe, and is even intensifying in the government institutions.”

Danish Agriculture Minister Dan Jorgensen told a local news agency last week that the new regulations would outlaw all kosher slaughter in the country. His characterization was disputed, however, by Danish Jewish community head Finn Schwarz, who said Danish Jews already agreed in 1998 to the certification as kosher of meat from cattle that were stunned with nonpenetrative captive bolt pistols.

The last ritual slaughter performed in Denmark reportedly took place more than 10 years ago. The Danish Jewish community, which numbers about 6,000, imports its kosher meat.

Rabbi Yair Melchior, the head of the Jewish community in Copenhagen, said calling the kosher slaughter ban anti-Semitic was inaccurate and would not help in the effort to repeal the law, according to Ynet. — jta