Archive for April, 2011

Threat of Anti-Jewish Legislation in Holland

 

by Geert ter Horst
 
For those in whose imagination Holland is still the land of tolerance, of “live and let live”, and who consider the Dutch as an easy-going nation that manages to live peacebly with a diversity of churches, religions, and world-views, it may come as a surprise, but, alas, it is the bitter truth: The Dutch parliament is on the verge of repeating the first anti-Jewish measure that was taken by the Nazi-German oppressor after its occupation of the country in 1940: The legal prohibition of Shechitah.

Floating on the waves of popular fears for the Islamization of the country fueled by Geert Wilders and his thuggish bunch in the so-called “Freedom Party” (PVV), the animal rights movement — represented in parliament by the tiny Party for the Animals (PvdD), headed by Marianne Thieme — now sees a long sought for opportunity to pass legislation that will prohibit all “un-stunned” slaughter practices. Thieme has prepared a new law which is intended to make Jewish and Muslim ritual slaughter practices illigitimate.

The PVV and the PvdD have formed an alliance for the occasion and have succeeded in convincing nearly all the other secular political parties, such as the Social Democrats (PvdA), the Liberal Democrats (D’66), the Socialist Party (SP) and the Green Left (Groen Links) that they are pursuing a good and noble cause, and that the hope and glory of Holland is now in the promulgation of animals rights, and in the abrogation of the nearly 400 year old historical rights of the Jewish people.

This may turn out to be only the initial phase of times of more troubles for the Dutch Jews, because of possible further anti-religious legislation.

If the new law passes, then, for the time being, Kosher meat can be imported from other countries, e.g. Belgium and France. However, one should not ignore the possibility of a domino effect resulting in  similar legislation in a number of other EU countries. The PVV has already made clear that it wants an additional second step: a prohibition against importing ritually slaughtered meats. If successful, this would condemn the orthodox Jews of Holland to a vegetarian diet.

There is also a rumbling going on about circumcision, and we hear some powerful voices favouring its criminalization. Notably, the Royal Dutch Society for the Promotion of Medicine has already accepted the position that circumcision for all other than strictly medical reasons should be prohibited. Similar voices can be heard in Wilders’ PVV.

With Wilders’ Freedom Party a movement has come near to the centre of political power, which views the adoption of a radical secularist agenda as its most powerful weapon in combating Islam, and which seems fully prepared to sacrifice the ancient religious rights of Jews and other groups in the process of pursuing its goals.

This is a very threatening development for the future of religious freedom in Holland. The traditional Christian political parties are no longer able to stop it. Their influence has considerably dimished over the last decades, and now the turning-point in the balance of power seems to have come. We are facing political forces from the right and the left uniting on an agenda of secularism, and moving against traditional positions of religious tolerance.

The level of hypocrisy involved in all this is nearly unconceivable. Recently, the Dutch parliament has pressured the cabinet to adopt a more active policy against the rising tide of Antisemitism. Now this parliament is itself making serious efforts to pass an essentially antisemitic law. These self-contradictory movements only make clear how totally irrelevant the Dutch Jews are from the perspective of the average law-maker. They can be dealt with as its suits his momentary interests. If, on the one hand, there exists some unrest about growing Antisemitism, the average representative will play the “good guy” role and ask for a more aggressive stance of the government. If, on the other hand, Shechitah is put in a bad light by populist leaders and animal rightists, this same representative will again play the “good guy” and ask for a prohibition of ritual slaughter. In one word, the average law-maker in the Dutch parliament has only one principle, which is to show just as much opportunism as is oppurtune for him.

Fundamental principles, consistency, and historical rights, are seemingly no longer anybody’s concern. The popular vote, and the immediate popular consent, are the only things that count for our politicians. And that’s the main reason why this development is so inherently serious and threatening, not only for the Jewish population, but for all who cherish traditional religious freedom.

This Dutch development in the direction of religious persecution should be a warning sign for us of similar future developments in the European Union. For what is at stake here, view: http://www.chabad.info/index.php?url=article_en&id=22848