Israel’s chief Ashkenazi rabbi warned Dutch politician Geert Wilders that attempts to ban ritual slaughter will eventually force Jews to leave the Netherlands.
Rabbi Yona Metzger on Tuesday wrote a letter to Wilders saying he was “shocked and upset” to learn Wilders’ rightist Party for Freedom adopted a ban on ritual slaughter in its election platform. Metzger asked Wilders to drop the issue from the platform.
The Netherlands will hold general elections on Sept.12.
Last year, Wilders’ anti-Muslim party – the country’s third largest – and other parties passed a law to ban ritual slaughter, but the Dutch Senate scrapped it in June. Instead of the ban, the Senate ratified a compromise between religious freedoms and animal welfare considerations. The ban sought to outlaw slaughter of conscious animals, rendering the procedure non-kosher and non-halal.
“By denying Jews to live according to the Torah you will eventually force them to leave the Netherlands,” Metzger wrote in the letter, obtained by JTA.
Metzger “strongly urged” Wilders – a staunch advocate of Israel and of “Judeo-Christian values,” as Wilders defined it – to “publicly distance“ himself from a lawmaker from Wilders’ own party, which he founded in 2005.
Metzger wrote that he was “shocked” to hear statements by Dion Graus, the lawmaker who holds the animal welfare portfolio of the Party for Freedom. Graus “repeatedly kept on accusing Jews of ritual torture of animals,” Metzger wrote, adding this was “the classical anti-Semitic way our rites have been targeted and demonized.”
Metzger thanked Wilders for his support of Israel but added: “One cannot be at the same time a friend of Israel and the Jewish people and on the other hand support an anti-Jewish law and be friends with Mr. Dion Graus.”
Earlier this month, the president of the Jewish Community of Amsterdam asked Wim Kortenoeven - another Dutch lawmaker - to warn his contacts in the United States of the perceived danger posed by Graus.
Kortenoeven left the Party for Freedom in July after a dispute with Wilders over ritual slaughter, among other matters. Kortenoeven – who has 20 years of experience lobbying for Israel – was the only lawmaker from Wilders’ party who voted against the ban.
In the letter, Metzger wrote that the Party for Freedom was the only large party that voted for a ban in the Dutch Senate. In reality, senators from five parties, including the Socialist Party, voted for the ban.