They Said It Couldn’t Happen Here. It Just Did!

I participated recently in a discussion with certain Prime Ministers of smaller countries that now form part of the EU. In an impassioned plea, the point was made that there is movement afoot to label all shechita meat, and if that gets approval the next step will be an all out ban. It won’t stop there. Circumcision will be next on the agenda. We appealed to them to be a voice of opposition to this growing anti-Jewish rhetoric that is finding new, less transparent ways of expressing itself.

When the Estonian Prime Minister, Mr Andrus Ansip asked why is this was surfacing now, I explained that it is something that rears its ugly head every now and then, usually in proportion to world sentiment about Jews, which in turn is often linked to the situation in the Middle East.

While I believed this to be a unique if not untypical situation in Western Europe, it now emerges that parts of the USA are facing a similar crisis. Forget shechita, they’re going straight for the jugular.

Just this past Wednesday, S. Franciscos Board of Elections approved a petition to place the issue of circumcision on the ballot. By definition, they have approved the process of circumcision to go to vote and be accepted or rejected by the electorate. If activists have their way in municipal elections this November, when voters will be asked to vote on the measure, circumcision of a boy under the age of 18 years of age for religious reasons would be classified as a misdemeanour and punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. And this is a country that is supposed to be far more tolerant toward Jews than Europe can ever hope to be.

Legal experts have weighed in on the case, with many asserting the ban, if passed, would infringe upon parents First Amendment rights guaranteeing freedom of religion. The local Jewish Community Relations Council and Anti-Defamation League have also joined with other religious groups and doctors in combating the proposed ban.

Let’s be very clear: Most of those who want shechita meat labelled are as much concerned about animal welfare as I lose sleep over the plight of the Red Indians on the Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation reserve in the flood plain south of Winnipeg, Canada. And those advocating for a ban on circumcision care as much about the well-being of infants as I do about the welfare of the Vietnamese golden- headed langur.

What is it Shakespeare said about a rose by any other name? The same holds true for Anti Semitism.