Jewgle has previously posted some items discussing the shechitah ban in New Zealand. Word came out, just before the court case, that the NZ Government has had a change of heart. This announcement from the New Zealand Jewish Council:
“We are pleased to announce that we have reached agreement with the Minister of Agriculture which will enable the shechita of poultry to continue in New Zealand. Court orders putting that agreement into effect were made at the High Court in Wellington this afternoon.
Negotiations are ongoing in relation to lamb. However until those negotiations are concluded (or the matter is determined in Court) the interim orders which were previously granted (enabling the shechita of lamb) will continue.
The trial which was due to commence in the High Court on Monday has therefore been adjourned.”
Some early publicity however looks into an alleged conflict of interest by the Minister concerned. Surprise surprise, it would seem that the lure of a muslim market for beef, driven by trading partners that have no place for the existence of Jewish religious freedom, sat as a motivation behind the Ministers advice and decision.
Already there are strong calls for the resignation of the NZ Minister. The Minister should come clean, and should be stripped of his post.
It will be interesting to see what publicity emerges in the next few days. Most of it is likely to be directed towards the poor decision making and lack of cultural awareness that Mr Carter has displayed. However I wonder how many people will look at the real issue that sits behind this?
The real problem is that the meat industry in NZ perceived (real or otherwise) that the provision of shechitah in accordance with halacha would adversely impact their relationships and trade with Muslim countries for halal meat production. Nobody knows what happens behind the scenes, or whether Muslim purchasers of NZ meat have pressured NZ into imposing the restriction (even to just test the reaction). It is possible that anti-Jewish interests stood behind this all along, and that the NZ Government Minister was just a naive, self interested political pawn.
What happens when the Governments of the free world start to call for bans to religious freedom? Shechitah? Brit Milah? Burial without cremation? Imposing recognition of Jewish identity in contravention to halacha?
It has long been recognised that religion and politics are not a good mix. If Jewish communities find themselves unable to be Jewish, then they will no longer remain. History teaches they will flee, while they have the chance. In this situation the New Zealand Jewish community appears to have won this particular debate on the basis of merit. However Jews around the world should see this episode for what it is worth. The religious freedoms of NZ Jewry appear to have been expended for the sake of what is ultimately a trade benefit. If this is a precedent, and trade interests can have implications that restrict Jewish liberty, then it is time for Jewish communities to be more assertive about their religious freedom.
We are living in the 21st century. Yet historical denial, hatred of Jewish people, and subjugation of the Jewish tradition seem to be alive and well within societies that have yet to learn that Jewish values are fundamental to the timeless and global values of basic justice. Nor have these societies been able to consciously realise that free Jewish communities tend to bring prosperity and great contributions to their host nations.
Western Nations will find themselves trading more and more with regimes that have values that clash with their own. They will find more and more that they have to exchange transactions with countries who do not value the political structure of democracy or human rights (the real definition of the concept). It may be more than religious freedom that is at stake if the influence of the purchaser can dictate the soveriegn policy of another nation. As the latin phrase, Caveat Emptor suggests, the buyer should be aware. The big lesson from our Kiwi cousins is however, that the seller should also be aware.