But is it Kosher?
I wrote a piece for Going Postal that compared the integration and assimilation of Muslims to that of The Jews. It was prefaced by an Imam who said that the treatment of Muslims was like that of the Jews under the Nazis and a report that suggested Muslims were now the target of angst in countries supplanting the role of the Jews as victims. (It seems that Labour is trying to reverse that trend).
The subject of Halal meat raises another comparison regarding the ritual (religious) slaughter of animals. No matter how meat gets to our table we all kill animals. It concerns me that for well over 100 years of the modern era there has been kosher slaughter and it caused no problem. No-one complained on a suspicion that they were forced to eat kosher food or that it was made available in the supermarket without labelling. It was fashionable to eat at Blooms in the East End and salt-beef sandwiches were enjoyed by Jew and Gentile alike. The issue of slaughter never arose.
Kosher food doesn’t enter the food train in the way and volume that halal has. The general public didn’t have an issue with kosher meat because it was invisible. But, I do know of a single. modern day exception. The customers of Costco don’t seem to care that the huge £1.25 beef hot-dog they sell hundreds of a day is kosher. Its labelled Chicago Best and made by Gilberts Kosher food, a long-standing UK producer of kosher products. American style hot-dogs are almost exclusively beef.
I just happened to have one in my fridge (and they are excellent):-
In particular I draw your attention to the label of origin:-
It’s kosher FIRST and because it’s kosher it can also be tagged as halal. Here is something that is halal but was not halal slaughtered. Do I think Costco customers should be told it’s kosher and halal? Yes. But NOT knowing it was kosher didn’t harm anyone. By the way, Costco Watford does have a Kosher section but not a Halal one. (Their salt-beef is to die for!)
Why the recent fuss about halal? I am 100% certain it’s to do with anti-Islam feeling. We are worried and repulsed about the bad things like grooming gangs and terrorism. We are also concerned how the character and nature of our towns and cities start to change with customs and practises alien to the way it was. Consciousness of Muslims and Islam is high.
“Islamophobia”, is a generalised word to describe a disdain for either or both Muslims and Islam. I can’t know how it arises in each person and how deeply it is felt. What I am quite sure about is that anti-halal sentiment owes more to push back against Islam and Muslims than real concern for how halal slaughter takes place, although maybe we should be concerned as I will later explain.
Since kosher and halal slaughter involve slitting an animal’s throat then why has it taken over 100 years or so for people to suddenly find they object to ritual slaughter? It is to do with Muslims and Islam and nothing to do with Jews and Judaism.
But, and it’s important, there is a major difference between kosher and halal slaughter:-
Kosher:- In Judaism, only one who has been specially trained and has learned and been tested on all the laws of shechita may slaughter Kosher animals.
Halal:- However, dhabihah can be performed by any “sane adult Muslim… by following the rules prescribed by Shariah“. All Islamic authorities, though, state that dhabiha can also be performed by Peoples of the Book-(Jews and Nazarenes).[
So, you have to be trained and approved to slaughter kosher but you don’t need special training for halal slaughter.
The government has a website concerning kosher and halal slaughter Requirements to slaughter for kosher meat
I emphasise that kosher slaughter requires you to be licensed. Halal slaughter does not.
In this guide to Kosher slaughter A Guide to Shechita you will find this:-
People have mistakenly stated that prayers are said to Yahweh as kosher slaughter takes place. They have conflated it with biblical sacrifice. They are wrong.
Another difference is the number of slaughterhouses. I couldn’t find the numbers despite searching many Government sites, Jewish and Muslim websites and Food Standards Agencies, so I am going to hazard a guess that there may be three kosher slaughterhouses in the UK and maybe twenty halal.
You can estimate this from population:-
- 300,000 Jews
- 5,000,000 Muslims
But I know that a lot of Jews don’t care so kosher slaughter isn’t servicing 300,000 Jews but maybe 60,000. Muslims tend to be more devout and sticking to halal. That is how I make my estimate.
If you Google “halal slaughter” and “kosher slaughter” you will find correspondingly more cases of cruelty associated with halal. There have been a few cases of kosher slaughter not meeting standards. But, in fairness, there are also cases of animal cruelty in non-kosher and non-halal slaughterhouses. Also, my guess is that the market for halal meat in some towns makes it lucrative to set up a slaughterhouse and may I suggest that in some cases they are not set up with proper standards. Kosher slaughterhouses will have been in existence for maybe 100+ years. Halal slaughterhouses are a more recent phenomena. That suggests that the staff are less experienced and motivated by volume and profit.
I did an unscientific test with Google. I search the phrases “halal slaughter cruelty” and “kosher slaughter cruelty”. I then take the top articles:-
Halal food cabinets appear in many supermarkets and reports tell us that halal meat has been served in restaurants and take-away’s without customers being aware. As far as I know no-one died but I 100% support the principle that you have a right to know how your meat was slaughtered. I don’t think the meat tastes any different whether it was slaughtered by a Muslim, Jew or Christian but it does seem a very reasonable thing to want to exercise choice. After all, why have a separate cabinet if there is no difference.
There is one area I have been vehemently against halal and that is when a school decides it will only serve halal meat to the students. Why should Islam constrain the diet of non-Muslims? It’s an erosion of traditional British school meals. Faggots, ham, pork sausages and bacon cannot be served because of the cross-contamination affecting halal food.
I went to a primary school in Hackney and the Kosher Meals Service laid on kosher meals at a nearby hall.
My grammar school had a large number of Jewish students and the KMS delivered kosher meals daily so that one side of the dining hall was “Kosher” and the other side “The usual stuff”. The funny thing is that we all crossed-over sides depending what was on the menu.
Therefore, if Muslims wish to make sure their children have a halal meal then start a Muslim funded Muslim Meals Service and deliver or cook it. It is the right of every school-kid to have a meal irrespective of their religious beliefs but not to destroy the rights of other school-kids
- Kosher slaughter is done by someone qualified. No prayer is said.
- Halal slaughter only requires that you are a Muslim who says a prayer.
- Because of the volume of halal slaughter there are more cases where the process has been tainted by cruelty.
- Anyone who consumes a meat product has a right to know how it was slaughtered.
- Schools must not impose halal on school kids to deny them traditional British meat products.
- Anti-halal is based on anti-Islam sentiment and kosher slaughter is caught in the backlash.
(I would have illustrated my article but due to the emotive subject matter I decided against it. There are no good photos of a slaughterhouse)
© Lugosi 2018