Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Monday 8 August 2011

A Bloody-Minded Ban: How Norway Knocked Back Nansen On Shechita

During the mid-1920s a campaign against Shechita, begun in the 1890s, the decade in which Switzerland banned the practice, gathered momentum in Norway, Britain's Jewish Chronicle noting in its 15 June 1926 issue that the innumerable items of opinion on the subject carried by the Norwegian press reflected either 'a hyper-humanitarian point of vantage' or 'thinly camouflaged anti-Semitism'. (Indeed, one of the leaders of the campaign was the antisemitic police chief of Aker, Jonas Søhr, under whom Knut Rød, the Oslo police chief who in 1942 rounded up Norwegian Jews and deported them to their doom, first served.)

Outrageously, amid this hysteria, defence of Shechita by Jewish authorities failed to get printed.  So in desperation Jewish organisations in and outside Norway turned for help to an iconic public figure and national hero, who proved more than willing to oblige.

Thus the fight to retain Shechita was taken up by the great Norwegian nationalist (he'd advocated Norway's independence from Sweden, achieved in 1905), explorer, zoologist and Nobel laureate Professor Fridtjof Nansen (1861-1930), who in 1921 had accepted the post of League of Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

His letter to the relevant committee of the Storting (Norway's Parliament) is worth quoting in full:
"In the course of my work, for a number of years, against starvation in Russia, I have received very great support from various Jewish organisations.  They have always been helpful to cooperate with and have shown great self-sacrifice.  I therefeore consider it my duty to take up their cause, now, when I have received several appeals from Jewish organisations - both at home and abroad - on account of the agitation that has been raised against their method of slaughtering, Shechita, which certain people now seek to get prohibited by law.  I therefore take the liberty of writing to the esteemed Agricultural Committee, which I understand is to deal with the matter.
I am even more constrained to do so, as I have been informed that in the press agitation that has been raised against Shechita, it has been impossible for Jewish circles to gain admittance to the columns of our newspapers for the defence of the Jewish attitude. [My emphasis]
I understand that the objections against Shechita are mainly being built upon the contention that this method of slaughtering is inhumane or is said to cause the animals unnecessary suffering.  I am, however, unable to endorse this opinion.  I have had a great deal of experience in taking the life of animals by severing the arteries of the neck in the same manner as occurs in Shechita, and I am convinced that in this way the animals almost immediately lose consciousness and are then no longer sensitive to pain.  However, it is a fact that the motor nerve centres are not immediately crippled by the severing of the carotid arteries and it is therefore still possible for muscular movements to take place in the animals, which to the non-expert may convey the impression that they are still able to feel.  This, however, is unthinkable, as consciousness has ceased. [My emphasis]
Furthermore, such prominent authorities as, for example, Professor A. Krogh and Professor O. Thomsen (Copenhagen), Dr. [Professor Sir Leonard] Hill, of London, and many others, have made statements on this matter, and it has thus been practically proved that when Shechita is carried out in a careful manner it does not cause the animals unnecessary suffering.
In addition to the above, I would beg to call attention to the fact that the slaughtering of animals in this manner is for the right-thinking Jew a matter of necessity, if he is to fulfil the Law of Moses.  In other words, it belongs to the practice of his religion, and as in this country we stand for free religious observance for all, this would appear to me to be a reason for seriously considering whether an Act for the prohibition of Shechita can be consistent with our upholding such freedom.  [My emphasis]
It seems to me that such  prohibition by Law would militate against the principles that otherwise form the foundation of our conception of life." (Source: Jewish Chronicle, 2 June 1926)
But the great Nansen's words fell on prejudiced ears, such as that of the parliamentarian who declared 'If they don't like it, let them go live somewhere else," and in June 1929, by 88 votes to 21, the Storting accepted the Ministry of Agriculture's bill to outlaw Jewish ritual slaughter.  The prohibition became law from 1 January 1930.

Norway's example was followed in 1933 by the Nazis, in one of their first pieces of legislation on taking power.

That same year a Jewish Chronicle columnist was travelling by road through a mountainous area of Norway renowned for awesome stark scenery when he spotted in the distance a vast herd of reindeer.  Never having seen reindeer before, he walked towards what resembled a "moving forest" of antlers, and then realised that the poor creatures were unwittingly awaiting their turn to be butchered.  For it proved to be the time of year when reindeer in their thousands were driven from the north of Norway to be turned into meat.  Skins and carcases and offal littered what was otherwise a picturesque scene,  and butchery proceeded apace.

Another tourist had also walked up from the road to get a better view of the great herd, and was also shocked by  the gruesome spectacle, which had so shattered the illusion of unspoiled scenic beauty.  Explaining that he was a medical man with specialist knowledge of animal physiology, this man remarked:
"It is like an abbatoir.  My work takes me to slaughtering-houses, and I know only too well what scenes of horror they are. If ordinary, average people ever saw animals being killed for their meat, they would never touch meat foods."
Nevertheless, he continued, so long as human beings ate the flesh of animals, they had an obligation to slaughter animals as humanely as possible, and there was no doubt that Shechita was the the most humane method in existence, as well as commendably hygienic:
"By the Jewish method the animal loses consciousness in three to five seconds.  That is one point.  In the second place, the pain is reduced to a minimum because the slaughtering knife, according to Jewish practice, must be perfectly sharp.  In the third place, by the Jewish method the carcase loses the largest possible amount of blood, and blood in a carcase has a deleterious effect on the flesh...
The only point of just criticism about the Jewish method of slaughter is that directed to the casting of the beast.  Before the slaughterer can get to the animal's throat, it must be brought to lie on its side. Primitive methods of doing this by means of ropes have not proved satisfactory.  But the casting pens now in use do get over this difficulty..."
 Well-meaning but ignorant people, he noted, advocated stunning animals before slaughter.  However:
"Stunning by means of a blow on the head is horribly cruel.  Close observation has proved to me that one blow hardly ever achieves the wished-for result.  The animal usually receives several blows.  The idea that the blow shatters the brain is contrary to fact.  Often several blows do not do this, since the animal's brain is closely encased in bone.  But even if the brain is damaged, it does not follow that the animal becomes unconscious.
In any event stunning inflicts unspeakable suffering on the poor beast.  Yet many people advocate stunning before slaughter.  Bear in mind that in every case you have to slaughter the animal.  Then, compare the pain inflicted by the Jewish method with the horror of stunning.  Judged by any standards, the Jewish method stands easily first.  
Then, consider some other methods of stunning the animal.  One is to drive a sharp nail into the animal's forehead.  Another is to stab it with a sharp dagger.  They are all abominably cruel, and the people who advocate these methods rather than Shechita write themselves down as an unthinking mass."
Source: Jewish Chronicle (1 September 1933)
The ban on Shechita saw the Jews of Norway importing kashered meat from Sweden (which itself banned Shechita in 1937).  

The Norwegians continue to ban Shechita, though have imposed no such ban on Halal.

Clearly, the "free religious observance for all" that Nansen saw as a defining characteristic of his country does not quite apply to all.

But, in that perverse way of theirs, the leftist Norwegian authorities' commitment to "free religious observance for [almost] all" ensures that, as Professor Phyllis Chesler has written, abused female Muslims cannot rely on the state agencies to protect them:
'Meanwhile, the steady penetration of Islamic gender and religious apartheid continues apace in the West, especially in Europe, including in Norway.
The left-leaning multi-culturalists and "progressives" in Norway have refused to help endangered Muslim girls and women in their midst; the Norwegian government has refused to limit forced marriages to illiterate home country cousins, nor have they effectively intervened in matters of domestic violence when the perpetrator was Muslim as was his victims.'
As was evident at the United Nations Human Rights Council recently, abuse and violence of such women and girls is seen as a matter of religion, not of human rights!

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