Knives for kosher slaughter.(News21-USA/Flickr)

Roughly a year after Holland’s lower house passed a bill that required all animals killed for meat to be stunned, in violation of Jewish and Muslim law—leading Dutch Jews and Dutch Muslims to band together to oppose the legislation—the government has cut a deal that will permit ritual slaughter so long as the animal is stunned after 40 seconds if it is not yet dead.

It’s a good if ironic compromise: ironic because, as David P. Goldman has pointed out, the laws of kashrut are designed to be humane—indeed are the origin of the concept of humans eating animals humanely.

The whole to-do put me in mind of a book I’m reading right now, Gadi Taub’s The Settlers. The book’s main subject is, well, the settlers, but he has a nice disquisition on why Israel’s status as an ethnically defined democracy is not paradoxical, and indeed arguably makes for greater freedom for its citizens (most of them, anyway, which is of course what the book is about) than countries that banish religion from the public sphere, as Holland had attempted to do. The ultimate example of such a country is France, and Taub notes, “If you acquire French citizenship, you become French and are expected to assimilate into French culture and identity.” You can’t even have dual citizenship. “Such a common identity in Israel,” he argues, “would similarly forbid the existence of a separate Palestinian national identity and would impose a uniform public sphere, which by virtue of democracy would be decidedly Jewish. Israel would then have to abolish, for example, its state-sponsored Arab-speaking schools and force the language of the majority on the education of the minority.”

The point being, pluralism is good. And so is kosher chicken.

Agreement Will Allow Ritual Slaughter in the Netherlands [JTA]
Related: Kosher by Design [Talbet Magazine]
Earlier: Holland Bans Kosher, Halal Slaughter