Over the coming months we will see attempts to ban halal slaughter in Europe. But they won’t be worded in such a way to target only halal, they’ll probably go after something nebulous like “ritual slaughter” or “religious slaughter without stunning”. If that happens (as is ongoing in New Zealand) it will more likely than not deprive European Jews of kosher meat and make very little difference to the lives of farm animals.
This essay will be general but will draw specific examples from the UK.
As much as Muslims like to talk about halal, it is not a religious requirement in the same way as kosher has been to Jews for thousands of years. There is conclusive historical and archeological evidence across Israel and anywhere else Jews lived, that the rules of “Shechita” have been followed in an unaltered form for millennia. The mere fact that kosher food is perfectly acceptable to Muslims while halal is not acceptable to Jews shows the Muslim requirement has a certain inherent flexibility born of political expediency. The Jewish laws do not yield for convenience or to achieve other goals. Halal has also been flexible enough to include “light stunning” which has been enough to sidestep a ban in New Zealand. A very large proportion of the lamb consumed in the middle east is actually New Zealand lamb and in the UK this halal lamb is nearly always sold unmarked in big supermarkets.
The global counter Jihad movement is going to face a tough choice over this issue. On the one side is the long respected freedom to practice religion where that freedom doesn’t harm others. On the other will be those who feel the rights of animals need to be elevated to the level or even above the level of humans.
Here are some points to remember:
- Modern farming methods relating to animals, especially when one is considering mass produced meat at cheaper prices, are not pleasant. It is firmly in the interests of very big aggro-businesses to obfuscate and conceal exactly what goes on to produce the mass produced chicken that can be sold at the very cheap prices we currently enjoy.
- In order to treat animals as if they were pets, prior to their slaughter for consumption, requires an investment in those animals that is only worthwhile if consumers will pay a hefty extra price for their meat. Some consumers will and people do choose free range or organic meat trusting that the various certification schemes do keep the farmers honest. In the end, however, unless you know the farmer or have some connection to the food production yourself, you’re trusting someone else to vouch that your meat is produced in a way you can accept.
- That is a similar act of trust that Jews place in the Kashrut Authorities who certify their kosher food has been produced in accordance with Jewish principles of animal welfare and cleanliness.
- There are a multitude of groups and movements working for better treatement of animals at many points of the spectrum from mildly reproachful to physical dangerous. Just because, on the issue of halal, you may agree with them, does not necessarily mean a movement to educate people about Islam needs to take up their causes.
- There have been real acts of terrorism, violence and even murder committed in the name of animal rights.
This is the big question: if the global counter Jihad movement wants to oppose the spread of Islam and Sharia into the lives of non Muslims, is it necessary to get involved in the details of animal treatment or is it enough to realise the drive for halal food and its encroachment into public life is the real problem?
Jewish respect for animals
I would put forward that Judaism, as a religion, has done more for the good treatment of animals than any before or since. The militant atheists will argue that all religion is evil but, without being particularly observant myself, I know enough about Jewish philosophy to know they are wrong. I know Islam too and that is where the problem comes in. For example, Judaism has always prohibited hunting for fun which is certainly not something Islam copied. Indeed, the only sports acceptable to the most observant or extreme Muslims all derive from hunting: archery and horsemanship are specifically mandated for good Muslims in the stories about Muhammad! By contrast, Judaism specifically prohibits cruelty (causing pain for pleasure) and it’s clear from many things done in the name of Islam, this is not observed in Islam.
Why do kosher and halal rules appear similar?
What Muhammad stole from the Jews who resided in the Arabian peninsula in the 7th century (aside from their wives, daughters, property and lives) were scattered snatches of their stories and oral law. These were mangled and mis-represented to form the Koran. That Muhammad (and don’t get me started on whether he was a single real person or an amalgamated construct) knew to place the Arabs as illegitimate descendants of the slave girl in the Hebrew bible story of Abraham was a stroke of pure genius. In all probability, the Jews had already worked this out as a separation of the semitic people into Jews and others (who would always be more numerous).
Almost every aspect of Islam has it’s roots in Judaism but every time you study the detail, superficial surface similarities hide a complete inversion of right and wrong, and a complete perversion of the reasons for the activity in question. Halal represents an attempt to take over and dominate the food of the infidel. By contrast, kosher is an introverted wish by Jews to honour their creator by following His laws (and some other internal philosophical reasons more observant Jews than myself can explain to you).
If we do not discriminate and recognise that Islam as a belief system has a dark, supremacist element that is unique to it, we are liable to destroy important parts of the foundations that have made our civilisation the greatest and kindest that has ever been. No civilisation has ever considered the rights of animals to the extent that we do now and this is not an accident. Islam has rarely been kind to people, let alone animals.
What is the purpose of Halal in the Non-Muslim world?
There is another issue here about the real purpose of halal outside of Muslim countries. As a general rule Jews and other groups with special dietary rules have not asked for their food to be served in public places outside their home countries. Jews outside of Israel adapt themselves to the food available in public institutions such as hospitals and schools often by eating vegetarian options. Even in neighbourhoods where Jews form a very high proportion of the population, there are hardly any demands to change the catering in public institutions.
By contrast, halal has made serious inroads into institutional mass catering in the UK. There are now numerous examples where non-Muslims looking for meat are given no other choice but to eat halal food in public institutions such as schools and hospitals. This has never happened with kosher food and nobody has ever seriously forced, for example, a vegan option on an un-willing population.
It’s all about control
There is a significant point of view that says halal food is all about a bid to take over and control the food supply. Animals must have an Arabic prayer said as they are killed and this must be performed by a Muslim. In effect halal mandates that Muslims perform most of the tasks involved in the production of the food.
What would strict labelling mean?
One of the ways that people are calling for some introduction of control on the spread of halal meat is by calling for strict labelling of meat that is not stunned before slaughter. There is a particular issue with halal today because there is a large amount of halal meat in the normal food chain that is not labeled as such. This is not such an issue with kosher meat except in one respect. Fully kosher meat is always much more expensive than non kosher and this reflects the small nature of its market and the care with which it has to be produced. Halal is generally cheaper than non halal. Some parts of kosher slaughtered animals do end up in the non-kosher meat supply, however, because this does help keep kosher meat affordable.
So strict labelling would be a problem for Jews if it meant that producers of meat pies and sausages were reluctant to accept some meat because it would force them to label their end product as containing some parts from non stunned animals.
When was the last time a major nation banned kosher slaughter in Europe?
Today there are some bans on kosher slaughter already in Europe, especially in Scandinavian countries. The last major European nation to completely ban kosher slaughter was, of course, Nazi Germany. The following passage from Melanie Phillips excellent book “The World Turned Upside Down” develops this even further into what some may find a surprising reverance for animal life among Nazis.
Such ecological fixations were further developed in German Nazism. According to Ernst Lehmann, a leading Nazi biologist, “separating humanity from nature, from the whole of life, leads to humankind’s own destruction and to the death of nations.”[i] The Nazis thus fixated on organic food, personal health and animal welfare. Heinrich Himmler was a certified animal rights activist and an aggressive promoter of “natural healing”; Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy, championed homeopathy and herbal remedies; Hitler wanted to turn the entire nation vegetarian as a response to the unhealthiness promoted by capitalism.[ii]
There was top-level Nazi support for ecological ideas at both ministerial and administrative levels. Alwin Seifert, for example, was a motorway architect who specialized in “embedding motorways organically into the landscape.” Following Rudolf Steiner, he argued against land reclamation and drainage; said that “classical scientific farming” was a nineteenth-century practice unsuited to the new era and that artificial fertilizers, fodder and insecticides were poisonous; and called for an agricultural revolution towards “a more peasant-like, natural, simple” method of farming “independent of capital.” Himmler established experimental organic farms including one at Dachau that grew herbs for SS medicines; a complete list of homeopathic doctors in Germany was compiled for him; and antivivisection laws were passed on his insistence. As Anna Bramwell observes, “SS training included a respect for animal life of near Buddhist proportions.”[iii]
They did not show such respect, of course, for the human race. Neither does the ecological movement, for which, echoing Malthus, the planet’s biggest problem is the people living on it. Even though our contemporary era has been forged in a determination that fascism must never rise again, certain völkish ideas that were central to fascism—about the organic harmony of the earth, the elevation of animal “rights” and the denigration of humans as enemies of nature—are today presented as the acme of progressive thinking.[i] Staudenmaier, “Fascist Ecology.” [ii] Goldberg, Liberal Fascism, pp, 385–87. [iii] Bramwell, Ecology in the 20th Century, p. 204.
What does this mean for the Counter Jihad?
We need to decide if fighting a battle for what some believe is better treatment of animals has any place in resisting the spread of Islam and Sharia. Just as with the issue of immigration we ask is the counter Jihad about immigration in general or only about Islamic immigration with a goal of eventual domination?
It’s my belief that people interested in taking up the cause of animal rights should do this distinctly from the cause of resisting Islam and Sharia. However, for the counter Jihad, halal slaughter is not an issue of animal treatment. It is an issue of an attempt to take over and dominate the food of infidels and impose on them, against their will, submission to the laws of Islam. That is unacceptable and should be resisted without infringing the legitimate rights of real religious practice.