By Mitzpeh staff
The words “Nazi” and “fascist” get thrown around a lot these days.
Most people in the civilized world connect these words and the Holocaust — arguably the most atrocious act in human history. Most people also have a basic understanding of how Nazism works; it involves ferocious violence at the core of deep-seeded racism and wrongly views the Jewish community as inferior and lesser than the rest of the world.
But it has now become common practice to associate Nazism with the banning of an action or a group of people instead of the murder of millions.
So, when the European Jewish Congress calls Belgium’s decision to ban kosher slaughter “the greatest assault on Jewish religious rights since Nazi occupation,” it sounds a little hyperbolic. Instead, it should be called what it actually is: ignorant.
Labeling the ban, which will begin in 2019, as ignorant doesn’t minimize its harmful effects. There aren’t many other ways to describe it. Aside from the fact that Flanders — one of the regions that voted for the ban in July — is home to half of Belgium’s Jewish population, the legislation is backing religious freedom into a corner and blurring what should be a hard line between Church and State.
Belgium didn’t unanimously vote to ban kosher slaughter because it wanted to intentionally alienate a large portion of its population. It was passed because the Parliaments of the Walloon and Flemish regions have a certain idea of what is humane.
But alienation is exactly what the Jewish community in Belgium is feeling right now. Belgian Jews feel as if they have to choose their faith over their citizenship, which is a choice that no government should force upon its people. It’s exceedingly insensitive to Belgium’s citizens, and the result, whether intentional or accidental, makes Jewish Belgians feel abandoned by their country. Similarly, the ban will affect Muslims who will no longer be able to slaughter animals according to halal guidelines.
Therefore, it is ironic that the main driving force behind this legislation is what is considered to be humane. Humanity is about compassion and benevolence – two emotions to consider when discussing the word. However, there isn’t any compassion or benevolence in a legislation that bans a cornerstone of a religion. There is little that is humane about it.
This ban probably has nothing to do with “Nazism.” It’s possible the parliaments simply weren’t thinking about what the effects would be on the Jewish community. But “ignorance,” which is the better word to describe this action, can be just as impactful as any political movement. Regardless, the intentions behind the ban really don’t matter because Belgium failed its people.