Beyond the Cusp

June 27, 2011

The Two Faces of the Netherlands

This week had the climax of one of the longest running controversies in recent history ending with the Dutch Court’s decision that Geert Wilders was not guilty of hate speech and his commentary, though possibly distasteful to many and even insulting and offensive to select groups, was none the less permissible in the forum of free political debate. This decision has been countered with the debate in the Dutch Parliament over whether ritual religious slaughter is inhumane to the animals as it does not stun them before slaughtering. Where this debate was originally depicted as being against the Muslim practice of Halal slaughtering, it has come to light that the vast majority of Muslims have no compulsion against stunning the animals first except in a rare ultra-religious minority while this law would render the only Shechita (Kosher) facility illegal forcing religious Jews either to have to buy their meat products outside the country or refrain from eating any meat or fowl as there would be no source for Kosher meat.

With these two opposing stories, it leaves one to wonder in which direction the Netherlands is turning. Should the Dutch Parliament pass the law next week against religious ritual slaughter, it will most definitely place another hot potato right back into the Dutch courts for final arbitration. This time, the actual existence of the Jewish community of the Netherlands will stand in the balance of that determination. But, let us first celebrate the decision to uphold freedom of speech, more importantly, political speech, by the Dutch courts. They were able to recognize that the law that was intended to protect people from harm, intimidation and abuse by making taunting, hateful speech directed in a personal manner was being twisted and manipulated in order to prevent speech to protect actions more egregious than the speech originally targeted. With the original charges and affiliated death threats against Geert Wilders, as well as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the late Theo van Gogh and others, that the Netherlands may have collectively lost their minds. The latest Dutch election had started to renew my faith in the Netherlands, but this verdict vindicating Geert Wilders and other small events may be signs that Europe just may be beginning to come to their senses. Perhaps there may be hope, but that depends on other factors too.

Those other factors bring us to the vote coming this Tuesday in the Dutch Parliament as to whether or not to ban religious ritual slaughter. Not all that long ago, Shechita was referred to as the most humane and painless manner in which to slaughter an animal while keeping it safe for consumption. Now, Shechita is facing being outlawed in the Netherlands, and a similar motion was recently tabled for the time being by the European Union and New Zealand found themselves needing to reverse their decision to ban religious ritual slaughter and this debate is happening in a number of other jurisdictions. What is so deceitful about the call in the Netherlands to outlaw religious ritual slaughter are two-fold. First, it will affect only one butchering house in all of the country, the sole producer of Kosher meats and fowl for religious Jews. Second, the extents where misdirection and outright deceit and personal attacks have been used by those proposing this measure have been sufficient to taint their efforts and possibly their reputations. The two “scientific reports” upon which their argument was based were intimated to have come from the reputable agricultural University of Wageningen but were instead produced by Wageningen UR, an NGO which took a name similar to the University for obvious purposes. Since this has come to light, the author of the study admitted that his study cannot be considered true factual scientific research. Since then, Professor Joe Regenstein of Cornell University and Professor Temple Grandin of Colorado State University (possibly the finest large animal veterinary school in the world) have raised a number of critical questions about the validity of the study in question. Karen Soeters, the head of the Scientific Research Institute of the Party for the Animals, suggested that Professor Regenstein was biased and also belittled any evidence submitted refuting her party’s original claims and premises. These points do tend to throw a suspicious light upon the true reasons behind continuing to push this legislation that will only be effective in closing the sole Jewish religious ritual slaughterhouse in the Netherlands. This tends to remind me of the upcoming ballot referendum in San Francisco to criminalize circumcision.

Beyond the Cusp

June 17, 2011

World Sending Mixed Messages to Jews

On one side, we do not have to search the news too deeply to find a cornucopia of proclamations demanding measures to isolate Israel or other measures all designed to remove Israel from among the nations of the world. The excuses do not vary much with most boiling down to the refusal of allowing Jews owning land for a country of their own or any other reasons. Forbidding Jews from property rights is far from a new idea. Such decrees were made by the Babylonians, the Seleucid Empire (Syrian Greeks), the Romans, virtually every country in Europe took a turn at such exclusions throughout the Middle Ages into the modern times, throughout the Arab and Muslim Worlds in the Middle Eastern and North African lands in turns by whim of each ruler, the Russians under both the Czars and the Communists, and in recent history by the Nazis in occupied Europe and North Africa. The calls today being shouted from every corner of the world are simply a continuation of a recurring theme against the Jews as a people, when they were a nation, and oft due simply to religious persecution. –The three main groups of sufficient size calling for the destruction or simple dissolution of Israel as a Jewish State are the Muslim World, Progressives occupying the extreme left of the political spectrum and the Pale-Conservatives who are to the extreme right of the political spectrum. The extreme leftists have taken the path of allying their efforts with the Muslim anti-Israel and anti-Zionist people. When inspected a little more deeply, much of the hatred from all of these groups boils down to being driven by the ever-present anti-Semitism.

On the other end of the messages are those people who are applying their talents and efforts to outlaw many traditions and Covenant Practices demanded by Torah. One such example currently in the news is the Dutch Parliament discussion to enact ordinance that would outlaw Shechita, the ritual method of slaughter required to allow meats to be considered Kosher. The attempt is done through duplicitous means by requiring animals be stunned before slaughter which is not allowed under the rules of Shechita. Driving this argument is Marianne Thieme, leader of the small Party for the Animals in the Dutch Parliament. Another equally underhanded attack on Jewish rituals and religious life comes from San Francisco in the form of a referendum placing a ban on circumcision worded as Male Genital Mutilation. Such a ban is an old measure used throughout history against the Jewish people first recorded as being an edict by the Seleucid Empire (Syrian Greeks) under the rule of King Antiochus. Once again, in modern times the Communists in Russia outlawed circumcision that forced Jews to carry out the commandment at great risk in secret, while others ended up asking to undergo circumcisions as adults once Communism fell and they made Aliyah to Israel. The original argument made by the people behind the anti-circumcision referendum was they were protecting male children from brutality perpetrated against their will in the form of unnecessary genital mutilation. They listed a number of studies which proclaimed the potential consequences and complications caused by circumcision while downplaying the medical advantages which have led to the majority of male children to be circumcised in the hospital before release. They denied any possible tie to anti-Semitism or anti-Semitic motivations behind their efforts; it was purely for the children. Since this became known, some further investigations have uncovered a cartoon style set of pamphlets produced by the sponsors of this referendum. The comic’s hero was “Foreskin Man” whose villain he had to save young male children from was “Monster Mohel” who had to be prevented from performing the Brit Mila ceremony (aka Briss), the Jewish rite of circumcision performed when a male child reaches eight days after birth. Below is a picture from the pamphlet which pretty much removes any denial of anti-Semitic origins of their efforts.

What can be concluded from these two seemingly opposite views? Obviously, outside Israel country after country, city after city, at any level of governance, there exists a drive to remove the right of Jews to their rituals, customs, and mitzvahs commanded by Torah. Jews are being legislated out of society on such a broad level that the only seeming solution for Jews who wish to continue to practice Judaism would be to move to Israel. Meanwhile, much of the same peoples and forces are behind efforts to delegitimize and destroy Israel and forcing Israeli Jews to return to living in exile as part of the Diaspora. Critically looking at this set of circumstances, there is but one logical and necessary solution for the Jewish People. Since it is being made obvious that there are sufficient numbers throughout the world, in some countries they make up a vast majority while in others they are simply a sizeable minority, who will stop at nothing to remove all vestiges of Jewish practices, traditions, and religious observance from their society. Seemingly, these people wish to allow Jews to remain in their presence as long as they are not particularly Jewish. The message is simply, if you wish to be a practicing Jew on any measurable level, then get yourself to Israel as you are no longer welcome anywhere else. But this brings out the other side of the coin, the desire to eradicate Israel, and for many also the Jews living within. Israel is being constantly castigated for existing and having the audacity to take measures in order to assure Israel’s continued existence. The simple conclusion is that the world is going towards pushing as many Jews as possible to go to Israel and no longer “pollute” their lands while also doing everything in their power to bring to fruition the destruction of Israel and her Jews. We Jews have seen such conditions before, usually right before terrible consequences befell the Jewish people, the Jewish nation. We saw it in Egypt, then later Babylonia, followed by the Seleucid Empire, the Roman Empire, the expansion of Islam in the later years of the first millennium, and on through to the pogroms of Europe and Russia and the dhimmitude classification within the world of Islam, the Holocaust of the Nazis (Shoah), and all of the growing perils that are becoming more obvious as the acceptance of Jew-hatred once again is losing its stigmas and becoming acceptable in “polite society” and even the halls of governance. The sole piece of advice Jews should heed is to make Aliyah and work to protect our Promised Land and become good stewards of the lands the L-rd our G-d promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and to us as their seed as long as we live the Covenant we have sworn to by our acceptance of Torah. Israel and Torah are the only viable future for the Jewish faith, the Jewish people, and the Jewish nation, and this might be the final chance we will have to live Torah in the Land of the L-rd thus making us worthy of living in His lands. No matter what our efforts, the Diaspora will wither and die in the near future, there will not be any other option for the Jews than Israel.

Beyond the Cusp

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