Sunday, November 28, 2010

Shechita in New Zealand

The New Zealand Minister of Agriculture, David Carter (not to be confused with the rugby player All Black Dan Carter - who is now the highest scoring rugby player in the history of Test Matches) had banned ritual Jewish slaughter in New Zealand. This was done against the advice of his own advisory team, and against the advice of his legal team. He ruled that only meat which had been pre-stunned would be acceptable. He claimed that this was done solely for animal welfare purposes. Of course pre-stunning animals is not acceptable for kosher shechita, so in effect he was banning shechita in NZ. Futhermore, because of risk of diseases etc it is forbidden to import chicken into New Zealand, so he was claiming that animal welfare took priority over kosher chicken soup.

The Jewish community objected, and had a temporary reprieve until the case was heard in the high court, which was supposed to take place tomorrow (Monday). On Friday, unexpectedly, the minister backed down, realising that he was going to lose the case. He has permitted slaugter of chickens, and shechita of lambs will remain permitted until a later date when it will be discussed again.

Today (Sunday) it turns out that not only was he acting against all legal advice, but that he was breaking governmental rules by acting based on personal financial gain, rather than for the best interests of New Zealand.

Jonathan Shenken, a member of the Auckland Jewish Community, has been following the money trail, and discovered that Carter is a major shareholder in two companies which export to Saudi Arabia. It was 'suggested' to him that trade would be more lucrative if he would require pre-stunning also for kosher meat, because the Halal market has been questioning why it is permitted for Jews and forbidden for Muslims.

According to the article in the New Zealand Herald:

An allegation of conflict of interest has been made because of that - he holds shares in a company which exports meat and met with senior managers who wanted a ban on shechita to protect their interests.

Carter was pulled back into line after lawyers told him he was allowed to consider only animal welfare issues. He had been advised trade with Muslim countries might suffer if it emerged kosher meat was allowed to be produced here while restrictions were placed on halal slaughter.

All I can say is that I hope he loses his job for his underhand behaviour, and that my father was right, because he said all along it was based on pressure from the Muslim market! Note to self: Dad is always right!

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