Danish Ambassador to Israel Jesper Vahr on Sunday hit back at Israeli officials' accusations of anti-Semitism by Denmark over the decision to ban forms of kosher slaughter, calling them "very insulting."
Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Eli Ben-Dahan had condemned the change in Danish law, saying that "European anti-Semitism is showing its true colors across Europe, and is even intensifying in the government institutions."
Ben-Dahan called on Vahr "to prevent the implementation of the decision to ban kosher slaughter", and urged Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to summon him for clarification on the issue.
“If this quote by the Deputy Religious Affairs Minister is directed at Denmark – and from what I read it appears to be – I not only reject it but also hold it to be very insulting to a country whose citizens during World War II stood up for their Jewish countrymen and helped Jews in Nazi-occupied Denmark escape to Sweden, the result of which was that 99 per cent of Jews in Denmark survived World War II," Vahr told Ynet.
"I have noticed that the President of the Jewish Community is quoted ... as saying that kosher slaughter is still legal in Denmark," he said. "That is correct: the new regulation will not ban the slaughter of animals after stunning with non-penetrative captive bolt pistols. For the Jewish community in Denmark the new regulation will not introduce any change compared to present practices."
Denmark's 6,000-strong Jewish community stopped slaughtering its own kosher meat about a decade ago, and relies on imported meat.
Vahr also noted that he spoke Sunday with Minister of Religious Services and Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett "to clarify the matter."
Bennett had on Thursday slammed the Danish law change, telling European Jewish officials that, "We will stand by the Jewish community and look into ways to help them as soon as possible."
'These statements do little to help'Rabbi Yair Melchior, who heads Copenhagen's Jewish community, rejected the claims of anti-Semitism, but did note that the decision sent a "problematic" message to religious minorities in the country. However, he stressed, "nobody is claiming its stems from anti-Semitism."
Rabbi Melchior, the grandson of Rabbi Benjamin Melchior, Denmark's former chief rabbi, claimed statements connecting the move to anti-Semitism do more harm than good.
"We need support, but not such attacks on the government. These statements do little to help," he said, claiming it could push the Danes into a corner, and thus kill the chances of the law being repealed.
He also said that any connection made between a ban on kosher slaughter and tougher regulations on circumcision was misplaced.
"It creates the message that we as Jews stand for harming the rights of children and animals in the name of tradition. But the opposite is the truth. As Chief Rabbi Lau said – kosher slaughter prevent the animal's suffering."
Such talk, he claims, "can achieve the opposite of its goal."