Eight European nations have already banned shechita (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Belgium, Slovenia, and Estonia), and Israel has stored quiet.
Ought to Israel concern itself in any respect with the welfare of Diaspora Jewry?
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Because the French statesman Gen. Charles de Gaulle identified, nations haven’t any mates, solely pursuits.
Certainly, Israel has concrete pursuits vis-à-vis Greece: a strategic army alliance, cooperation within the power sphere, an affordable and available vacation spot for beach-and-scenery-loving vacationers; help for Israel in European Union votes; and plenty of others.
Unsurprisingly, the animal rights foyer received out over the pro-Jewish foyer, which doesn’t truly exist. The few native Jews who observe kashrut must develop into vegetarians, to migrate, or import kosher meat, which has not but been forbidden to them.
If the hurt completed is minimal, and if Israel has good causes to not jeopardize its diplomatic relations with a pleasant nation, why ought to this ruling set off alarm bells?
An assault on Jewish life within the identify of liberal values
As a way to grasp the severity of what the Greek laws represents, we now have to know the way it matches into an ongoing incremental course of that may, in the end, make organized Jewish life unimaginable.
Though classical liberalism, with its concentrate on social justice and particular person rights, benefited Jews up to now, the “progressive” activists now attacking Jewish particularism are harming the Jews out of a restricted grasp of what it means to be “enlightened.” The harm they inflict goes past problems with shechita and brit milah (the covenant of circumcision); they’re additionally assailing Jewish burial (out of environmental considerations) and Jewish colleges (on prices of ethnic discrimination and gender segregation).
Final summer season, Belgium banned shechita, and discussions are actually underway about laws that may prohibit brit milah there, on the premise of youngsters’s rights claims. Opinion polls present help for such a ban throughout Europe. Till now, solely Slovenia has legislated such a prohibition, however authorized efforts to take action proceed in Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands and, as famous, Belgium. The anti-circumcision motion may be very energetic and never anticipated to abate anytime quickly.
In the end, if the Jewish individuals doesn’t take countermeasures, brit milah bans will possible be enacted. And, as with shechita, if one prohibition is efficiently legislated, others will comply with.
Normally, societies characterised by rising secularism show robust anti-religious sentiment. The Council of Europe has declared that every one member states ought to “require non secular leaders to take an unequivocal stand in favor of advancing human rights […] over some other non secular precept.”
Hypocrisy, inner contradictions and cultural preconceptions
Even when we assume, for the second, that the intentions of the “progressives” are under no circumstances tainted by antisemitism (a extremely doubtful assumption), it’s clear that they do harbor Eurocentric cultural assumptions.
We are able to level out, as an example, that looking, which leads to the merciless homicide of tons of of hundreds of animals every year, has not been banned by any European nation – but shechita, which permits a couple of hundred Greek Jews to perpetuate their custom, has been outlawed.
Missing sensitivity to, or empathy for, non-European cultures, these “progressives” are unable to know why Jews insist on ritual slaughter with out gorgeous, or that the toddler’s foreskin be eliminated when he’s exactly eight days previous.
Missing an understanding of the place of Halacha (Jewish regulation) in Jewish life, they’re unable to heed the neighborhood leaders who warn that “bans on brit milah will power the Jews to go away Europe,” and that the sensible consequence of such laws can be “cultural genocide.”
These Jews most dedicated to their identification will abandon the continent, whereas others will keep away from calling consideration to their Jewishness; the organized communities will, basically, stop to perform.
That is all of the extra surreal once we think about that just some weeks in the past, on the dedication of a museum memorializing the illustrious Thessalonian Jewish neighborhood, which was fully destroyed within the Holocaust, the Greek politician and European Fee Vice President Margaritis Schinas promised that Europe would spare no effort to advertise the resurgence of full Jewish life on the continent.
Calling upon the Israeli authorities to intervene
Though Israel has an ethical obligation, primarily based on its Declaration of Independence and Article 6 of the Nation-State Legislation, which has constitutional power, to make sure the security of Jews within the Diaspora, it has not addressed the brand new Greek laws.
The Jewish state has proven itself keen and capable of rescue Jews in fast life-threatening hazard – an necessary obligation reserved for emergency conditions. The present hazard is extra religious and cultural than bodily, that means that Israel may, theoretically, flip a blind eye, because it has up to now.
However in mild of the developments at present underway in Europe, and that are beginning to unfold to North America, Israel would do nicely to contemplate mounting an clever and efficient intervention.
The late Shimon Peres despatched Angela Merkel and the top of the European Union private letters that persuaded them to reverse selections to ban brit milah, and American politicians satisfied Iceland and Norway to abolish restrictions on Jewish life.
Israel, given its good relations with Greece, ought to make the most of the suitable communication channels to request that the Greek authorities intervene and reverse the ruling.
The author is a senior fellow on the Jewish Folks Coverage Institute. He coordinates its exercise on countering antisemitism and selling the continuity of Jewish communal life in Europe.