Australian Jewish leaders decry backing for shechitah ban


SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — Australian Jewish leaders have reacted angrily to the growing support for a ban on Jewish ritual slaughter.

Rabbi Moshe Gutnick, one of the nation’s foremost authorities on kashrut, chastised proponents of a ban on shechitah, which was triggered by a May 30 investigative documentary into animal slaughter.

“When there is an attempt to ban kosher slaughter, it is for either one of two reasons,” Gutnick told The Australian newspaper. “The first reason is out of ignorance, or the second reason is simply anti-Semitism.”

The public outcry — backed by animal welfare groups, Greens, independent lawmakers and some Labor backbenchers — prompted the government to suspend the $320 million-a-year live cattle exports to Indonesia earlier this month.

On Sunday, Melbourne’s The Sunday Age newspaper carried a front-page article titled “Outrage grows on ritual killing” as well as an editorial, which concluded that “There are any number of religious and cultural practices, ranging from sharia law to genital mutilation, that are rejected in Australia. Slaughter without stunning should be one of them.”

In response, Danny Lamm, president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, issued a detailed rebuttal Monday, dismissing 10 myths about shechitah.

“Jewish law does not permit pre-stunning and requires that the animal must not be injured or mistreated in any way before it is slaughtered,” he wrote.

Last year, New Zealand tried to follow Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden in banning shechitah, but the government backed down after the Jewish community launched legal action.

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